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Six home networking technologies to watch out for

Stephen Lawson | Jan. 8, 2013
Most of the tablets, TVs, ultrabooks and smartphones on display at International CES this week ultimately are bound for someone's home, where they'll have to talk to each other. Six major home networking technologies to make that happen will be on display at the show, some of them making significant strides to keep up with the demand for instant information and fun.

2. WiGig

For even higher speeds, the Wireless Gigabit Alliance is pushing WiGig, a system that taps into gobs of unlicensed, barely used spectrum up in the 60GHz range. Those frequencies don't travel too far, but WiGig is aimed at connecting to things nearby, point to point. For example, it can be used to dock a thin and light computer to a monitor and peripherals without the need for Ethernet ports and other connections. WiGig may also be used to send high-definition video streams to a TV for viewing or gaming, its backers say. Its top speed now is about 7G bps, and it may go much higher. Right before this year's show, the Wi-Fi Alliance said it would take over development and promotion of WiGig. That should help ensure the two systems work well together, though WiGig still won't be called Wi-Fi.

3. WirelessHD

WiGig isn't alone at 60GHz. WirelessHD is already built in to adapters for equipment such as projectors and home theaters. It has a theoretical top speed of 28G bps, according to its biggest proponent, chip vendor Silicon Image. At CES, Silicon Image will demonstrate a WirelessHD chip for smartphones and tablets. The UltraGig 6400 mobile 60GHz WirelessHD transmitter was announced last month and is already shipping to manufacturers in sample quantities. It can send and receive video at resolutions up to 1080p with multi-channel sound, for linking a portable device with a big-screen TV, according to Silicon Image. The company also included MHL, (Mobile High-Definition Link), a system for wired high-speed connections between mobile devices and home electronics.

4. HomePlug AV2

HomePlug is a set of technologies for transmitting data over the electrical wiring in a home. It serves as the backbone of a network that reaches TVs, tablets, gaming consoles and other devices via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Adapters that plug into conventional wall sockets make that connection. HomePlug's latest iteration, HomePlug AV2, offers "gigabit-class" speeds and can transmit high-definition video streams from a central set-top box to TVs around the home. according to the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. HomePlug AV2 was introduced about a year ago. Qualcomm Atheros announced a HomePlug AV2 chipset in October and said it was shipping to manufacturers in sample quantities. That chipset offers throughput of more than 500M bps, Qualcomm Atheros said. HomePlug technologies will be demonstrated in the TechZone at CES.

5. MOCA 2.0

The Mutimedia over Coax Alliance's technology for home networking runs over the coaxial cables that sprout from the walls of most homes in North America and are also used in parts of Europe and Asia. Coax is the backbone of cable TV, and MOCA positions its MOCA 2.0 technology as ideal for distributing video around homes. It claims 400M bps of actual throughput in MOCA 2.0's standard mode and 800M bps in Enhanced Performance Mode. MOCA 2.0 should be able to distribute UltraHD video from a one set-top box to others, said Rob Gelphman, vice president of marketing and member relations at MOCA. Despite the long rivalry between MOCA and HomePlug, Gelphman said each is best in different situations. HomePlug can go into more rooms because it uses electrical sockets, while MOCA's hallmark is reliability, he said. "Nobody is the singular silver bullet," Gelphman said.


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