Home Global-ICTGlobal-ICT 2013 Opening up standards in home networking

Opening up standards in home networking

by david.nunes
John EganIssue:Global 2013
Article no.:15
Topic:Opening up standards in home networking
Author:John Egan
Title:President
Organisation:HomeGrid Forum
PDF size:235KB

About author

John Egan is President of the HomeGrid Forum. Mr. Egan is a lead strategist for G.hn standards work and global marketin

Article abstract

The HomeGrid Forum has created an environment where different networking technologies are able to internetwork, co-exist and ultimately converge. This is a model the industry should emulate in seeking to deliver home networking solutions that meet the needs of service providers, retailers and consumers. Bringing HomePNA into the G.hn fold and extending 1905.1 to include both technologies are significant steps in giving service providers the open standards and migration paths they seek and need.

Full Article

In addition to the ubiquitous powerlines, most homes include phone lines and coaxial cables. Over the past decade, with new advances in signal processing technology, wired home networking has advanced to use these existing wires extensively, eliminating the need for new cables while often providing better performance than wireless technologies.

HomePNA over phone wiring was standardized in ITU-T’s Recommendation G.9951 in 2001 and was immediately available in the market. In 2007, the ITU-T approved Recommendation G.9954 standardizing HomePNA over coax with enhanced phone line operation. Since then, service providers of all sizes have deployed HomePNA technology to distribute high bit-rate services, such as HD IPTV, throughout homes in four continents. HomePNA certified products include set-top boxes, residential gateways, Ethernet bridges, and fiber to coax ONTs.

Except for HomePNA, with its multi-wire type capability, other wired home networking technologies introduced during the last decade work over just one of the types of in-home wires – coax, phone line, or powerline. Further, when multiple, legacy wired networking technologies are used, they are essentially network ‘islands,’ which may or may not be bridged, but are certainly not jointly managed, or able to route traffic based on overall network demands and traffic. With the growing mix of wireless and wired hybrid networks in the home, the network islands issue is further compounded.

Earlier this year the HomePNA Alliance merged into the HomeGrid Forum (HGF) to create an expanded home networking industry alliance of over 70 members including some of the world’s largest service providers, system manufacturers, and silicon companies. The organization combines the breadth of deployment of HomePNA – with over 40 million nodes worldwide and 96 certified products – with the power and vision of the new G.hn technology.

With steps towards extending 1905.1 to include G.hn and HomePNA, and opening up the standard to allow additional network interface technologies, the way is now clear for service providers to evolve their home networking strategies based on truly open standards.

Creating a new technology over any and all wires

In 2006, the home networking industry set out to create an ‘any wire’ solution that would enable service providers to reduce their technology deployment costs, increase their services to more customers, and improve security, performance and network management.

An ITU-T standardization effort resulted to develop a single technology that would work over any wire in the home. This effort brought all interested parties together to develop a single home network technology that also provided a homogenous network for traffic management purposes. The ITU-T work group that developed this family of standards (called G.hn for ‘gigabit home networking’), built on the experiences and advances made with multi-wire HomePNA technology.

The ITU-T completed the core family of G.hn standards in 2010, with each standard focused on specific functionalities. Since 2010, work has continued to extend and enhance the technology, including the addition of a MIMO standard for G.hn in 2012. The following table displays this.

Table 1: G.hn family of standards (Recommendations ITU-T)

Standard Title Technology Defined
G.9960 Unified high-speed wireline-based home networking transceivers – System architecture and physical layer specification* Network Architecture & PHY
G.9961 Unified high-speed wire line based home networking transceivers – Data link layer specification DLL
G.9962 Unified high-speed wire-line based home networking transceivers – management specification Management & Control Planes
G.9963 Unified high-speed wireline-based home networking transceivers – Multiple input/multiple output specification PLC MIMO
G.9964 Unified high-speed wireline-based home networking transceivers – Power spectral density specification PSD Tools
G.9972 Coexistence mechanism for wireline home networking transceivers G.hn Coexistence with Legacy PLC
*note: plastic optical fiber support added in 2012 to G.hn to go along with networking over powerlines, any copper pairs, and coax cable.

Like HomePNA, G.hn technology can operate in baseband mode over coax and phone lines. G.hn baseband coax mode can operate concurrently with HomePNA network coexistence over these same wires, with the G.hn network acting as an overlay network. This is one G.hn value proposition for service providers with deployed HomePNA networks. As G.hn can also operate in RF mode over coax, it can be an overlay network with HomePNA as well, with the two networks fully coexisting. G.hn is not limited to only coexisting with HomePNA over coax. In fact, with a MoCA deployment, a G.hn network on coax can operate as an adjunct to MoCA, coexisting and with full concurrent operation.

Moreover, G.hn networks over phone lines, coax, powerlines or plastic fiber in the home can be adjunct networks to existing HomePNA networks over coax and/or phone lines, i.e. G.hn networks can run over a completely different physical infrastructure, providing interference-free coexistence. This adjunct network capability enables G.hn to be deployed in homes that already have any other networking technology, providing co-existence, a robust technology update and a vast improvement to service delivery.

Interoperability – the keystone of success

When the HomePNA Alliance merged into HomeGrid Forum, a firm commitment was made to the market to maintain the same high level of compliance and interoperability testing for all HomePNA products as prior to the merger. The recent HomePNA certification announcements, with continued market demand for HomePNA, demonstrate the HomeGrid Forum’s complete commitment to interoperable HomePNA products.

Since first silicon prototype availability in 2010, G.hn silicon has matured quickly, with two silicon chipsets now HGF certified. System products have had their own development and HGF certified systems are now available in the market. To foster rapid development and interoperability, the HomeGrid Forum has enforced strict compliance to G.hn standards through a two-year interoperability development phase consisting of plugfests and test events, while developing a complete G.hn Compliance and Interoperability (C&I) certification program.

G.hn & HomePNA: a model for internetworking, coexistence and convergence

The extended HomeGrid Forum has focused on an environment for both the G.hn and HomePNA networking technologies to internetwork, coexist and ultimately converge.

Ethernet packets can cross between G.hn and HomePNA networks using simple Ethernet Layer 2 bridges, making this a low-cost, easy to deploy networking solution for the home. When combined with the ability of G.hn and HomePNA networks to coexist on the same wire, the resulting service provider benefits are substantial, making a technology convergence strategy possible for combining G.hn with HomePNA.

A further approach is to add HomePNA functionality into G.hn chipsets, creating dual mode silicon. This effectively provides service providers with an easy migration from HomePNA to G.hn. New devices added to existing HomePNA networks could be dual-mode and reconfigure to G.hn mode when all HomePNA-only devices in the network are replaced. The same dual mode devices could be used for new all-G.hn network installs, too.

G.hn and other networking technologies: a coexistence and convergence model

G.hn can coexist with many technologies on the same wires, such as with MoCA, or with powerline networks based on the IEEE 1901 standard (if both the G.hn and 1901 devices support ISP). If the service provider or consumer wishes to add an adjunct network to an existing one, G.hn is fully capable and compatible with other technologies when G.hn operates over a different wire type.

1905.1 – eliminating network islands

G.hn inherently manages traffic across all connected G.hn domains regardless of wire type, eliminating the wired network islands issue when G.hn is the sole choice for wires in the home. However, wireless is also present in today’s homes and should not remain a network island. The industry recognized this issue and IEEE 1905.1, a standard for managing traffic over disparate networks, was developed. The HomeGrid Forum and HomePNA Alliance played leading roles in the development of IEEE 1905.1.

With an in-depth understanding of IEEE 1905.1, in late 2012 HomeGrid formed a task force to create an amendment to 1905.1 for G.hn and HomePNA technologies. HomeGrid Forum is currently working on having this extension incorporated into IEEE 1905.1.

Conclusion

The ITU-T and HomeGrid continue to extend and evolve the G.hn technology in order to provide the most powerful, open and interoperable option for home networking and one that continuously meets the markets’ needs. For HomeGrid Forum, maintaining an open dialogue with service providers is critical in understanding their needs and helping them to evolve their strategies and move from their existing network selections to open G.hn networks.

While HomePNA technology meets the current needs of many service providers, G.hn will meet their evolving needs. The example of how G.hn and HomePNA technologies work together to deliver coexistence, internetworking and a converging migration path for service providers serves as a best practice model for the industry to meet the needs of its customers and a vision of how other networks will work with or migrate to G.hn.

The HomeGrid’s strict C&I program for silicon and product certification is the key to ensuring confidence in all HomeGrid technologies.

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