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Will nVoy become the one home networking standard to rule them all?

Yardena Arar | June 24, 2013
Have you heard the saying "The best thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from?" It popped into my mind when I learned of the new nVoy brand and certification program for products based on the IEEE 1905.1 standard. If you're not familiar with it, IEEE 1905.1 defines hybrid networks that combine Wi-Fi, ethernet-over-powerline, MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance), and conventional wired ethernet topologies.

Have you heard the saying "The best thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from?" It popped into my mind when I learned of the new nVoy brand and certification program for products based on the IEEE 1905.1 standard. If you're not familiar with it, IEEE 1905.1 defines hybrid networks that combine Wi-Fi, ethernet-over-powerline, MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance), and conventional wired ethernet topologies.

Each of those technologies is defined by a standard of its own, of course. And then there's the ITU's G.hn, a wholly separate standard from a different international body that defines hybrid home networks that use powerline, coax, and phone line, but not wireless (although it can coexist with Wi-Fi).

So why does the world need a standard that defines a collection of standards? For that matter, why does the world need the Wi-Fi Alliance's 802.11ac certification program? If IEEE 1905.1 and IEEE 802.11ac are standards, why do we need marketing consortiums to certify that products based on those standards will be interoperable? Isn't that the very definition of the word "standard"?

nVoy logo
nVoy is a new certification program for hybrid home networks.

After all, I already operate a hybrid network at home: Some of my devices connect via Wi-Fi, some use HomePlug AV powerline, and my entertainment center runs on MoCA. Everything is connected to my gigabit ethernet Wi-Fi router. And my hybrid network was running fine long before someone thought to come up with a fancy logo for it.

In search of answers to these questions, I interviewed HomePlug Alliance vice president and Broadcom senior technical director Stephen Palm and consumer communications services analyst Mike Jude of market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Help with setup and troubleshooting
So, what does nVoy certification bring to the networking party? The major benefits are simplified setup and diagnostic tools that can help troubleshoot problems. A new nVoy component can get its configuration info from existing ones at the push of a button, freeing consumers from having to tediously input info such as SSIDs and passwords, Palm explained. The diagnostics (information on link rates, network topology, and so on) can be accessed locally by customers and remotely by service providers.

Service providers especially stand to benefit from widespread deployment of nVoy and its successors (as the IEEE 1905 working group develops them). As more and more people use networks for streaming media and are therefore more likely to notice performance problems, service providers will want a way to see what's going on when a customer complains, without incurring the expense of dispatching a truck and a technician. "Keeping that network running is absolutely essential to selling services that use it," Jude says.

 

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