HomePlug AV2 Specifications Promises 5x Speed Increase

In general, we don't complain about upgrades or revisions. In almost every case, moving forward means bettering something for the consumer, and the HomePlug standard is one standard that we absolutely are thrilled to see moving forward. Version 1 never really caught on, largely due to high prices, lackluster reviews and a bunch of other options (Wi-Fi, for example) useful for transferring content.

HomePlug has just revealed their AV2 specification, which promises to support "Gigabit-class Powerline Networking" while greatly boosting the speed at which transmissions take place. The HomePlug Powerline Alliance seems rather proud about the new spec, which will be fully interoperable with current HomePlug AV and future HomePlug Green PHY and IEEE 1901 products.

The key spec updates are listed below, but the big one is here: it's expected to deliver a 5x increase in performance over current HomePlug AV solutions at the application layer to offer significant improvements in whole home coverage to guarantee reliable delivery of throughput intensive applications such as multiple streams of 1080p HD video (and emerging 3D and 4K HD) broadband Internet, Internet gaming and security camera video over existing electrical wiring.

We won't see the spec fully finalized until Q1 2011, with devices to pop up shortly thereafter, but at least we know things are well on their way.

"Powerline networking between modems and set-top boxes is being used today by many broadband service providers to reduce capital expenses and support costs associated with delivering new triple play and IPTV services,” said Kurt Scherf, vice president, principal analyst, Parks Associates. "More than 50 operator/service providers have deployed HomePlug AV powerline networking solutions as a means to expand services. These providers require a migration path to a much higher performance powerline technology to meet future bandwidth demands while maintaining interoperability with their current HomePlug AV installations and future IEEE1901 products."

Major powerline enhancements the TWG selected for inclusion in the developing HomePlug AV2 specification include:
    •   MIMO (Multiple-Inputs Multiple-Outputs) offers significant increases in link throughput and range without requiring additional spectrum or transmit power. MIMO allows the data signal to propagate from multiple outputs to multiple inputs implementing advanced transmission coding schemes which will increase capacity and enable more reliable and expanded home coverage. This is similar to the 802.11n and 802.16e which use MIMO solutions with wireless products to extend performance.
    •   Increased MAC (Medium Access Control) efficiencies that lower overhead and expand throughput
    •   Increased operating spectrum: the specification will expand operations into an additional spectrum, up to an order of magnitude beyond current powerline technology. This increased bandwidth will further improve performance.
    •   Extending coverage via repeating and routing technology in networks of three or more nodes