A new version of the HomePlug powerline-based home networking standard, being developed under the auspices of the IEEE, is on the verge of being approved.

This new version aims to support significantly higher broadband speeds, theoretically as high as 100 Mbps, and was designed specifically to support envisioned Smart Grid applications.

Previous versions of HomePlug have been approved by the ITA and ITU.

IEEE 1901 has prepared a Draft Standard for the final approval stage, according to the HomePlug Powerline Alliance.

The proposed IEEE 1901 was until recently considering supporting as many as three separate MAC/PHY approaches, none of them compatible (though capable of coexisting).

Adding to the confusion is that only one of those MAC/PHY combinations was going to be compatible with, another proposed standard (being considered by the ITU) that means to bridge separate networking technologies for powerline, coax and phone lines. 

The proposed IEEE 1901 standard has dropped a placeholder for the potential third physical layer (PHY), and the final IEEE 1901 standard will include only two PHYs (FFT and Wavelet). This means that products based on the IEEE 1901 FFT standard will be fully interoperable with the existing installed base of millions of HomePlug AV products. For mixed FFT and Wavelet technology environments, the IEEE 1901 standard requires that all products coexist, the HomePlug Powerline Alliance reported.

HomePlug Powerline Alliance President Rob Ranck said, “We expect to see IEEE 1901-interoperable products carrying HomePlug certification logo in 2010.”

The IEEE 1901 standard is the only Powerline Communications standard that addresses the needs of the Smart Grid, and it was developed to meet the requirements developed with the input of energy companies and Smart Grid operators.

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