Not only is Intellon Corp. banking on cable to pursue powerline networking technology, but some operators are banking on Intellon to make it happen.

Comcast Corp., already a member of the HomePlug Alliance, remained bullish on the technology, joining a group of investors that infused $23.5 million into Intellon, a maker of chipsets for powerline devices.

Intellon will use the new funds to fuel efforts behind its "PowerAV" silicon for HomePlug AV, a standard that will be capable of handling multiple high-definition streams.

Comcast's involvement in the financing round also provides a glimpse into Intellon's cable strategy.

As a first step, cable operators could use powerline technology to ease in-home cable modem service installations, noted Intellon CEO Charlie Harris. If a cable drop is not already near a customer's primary PC, for instance, the operator could install the modem near the traditional set-top and use existing powerlines instead of installing more coax.

Further out, Harris expects vendors to support powerline technology in cable modem gateways–devices that contain both cable modem and networking capabilities–by the second half of 2004.

Thanks to the powers of HomePlug AV, Intellon also hopes to play a role in cable media centers that ship high quality video and audio to multiple devices in the home. Powerline, Harris said, can complement, rather than compete with, efforts such as MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance), a coax-based networking scheme backed by Comcast, EchoStar Communications and Entropic Communications, another chip builder, among others.

"We think home networks of the future will be mixed media networks, and [will use] what best works in the house," Harris said. "This is not about us winning against MoCA or vice versa. We offer the additional flexibility."