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Hybrid IPTV? Why not deliver it on a hybrid network says Atheros

If you think about the digital home a lot, you may have once or twice asked yourself the question, “Why can’t we use one technology to gets video sign

By PETER WHITE

Published: 21 October, 2010

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If you think about the digital home a lot, you may have once or twice asked yourself the question, “Why can’t we use one technology to gets video signals around the home and another to get them across the room,” and if you have you could have come up with a number of combinations, and each one might lead to a dedicated chip.

You might use MoCA to get them around the home, but WiFi to get them across the room, WirelessHD could do the last hop. Or powerline could do the longer hops and the shorter ones could be MoCA, or HDMI or Ethernet. But one combination we have always thought was promising is using the new faster HomePlug with N based Wi-Fi, that way the powerlines are already in place and the WiFi requires no wires, so it’s an exceptionally low effort installation.

There are problems. There are no specialist chips currently which do this, and what happens if packets are lost? Where in the network can you go back to, to request resends – especially if it goes right across the network, you need to be able to treat both formats as a single network.

That seems to have been the spark that has led to Atheros, one off the world’s big two when it comes to WiFi chips, especially those with MIMO and low packet loss, to pitching a new industry standard for doing just this. Of course, it now has a reference design of its own and is pitching it at Pay TV network operators

This week it unveiled three consumer reference designs which it says points the way to a comprehensive multi-system home networking strategy using WiFi, HomePlug AV and Ethernet.

The company says it boosts overall network bandwidth, is really simple to set up and has done it on the back of the IEEE ratifying the 1901 powerline standard, based around HomePlug AV.

Atheros is actually launching four reference designs, one which acts as a router into all three formats and three adapters which use various combinations of its Xspan wireless LAN, AMP powerline and Ethos Ethernet technologies. The designs provide networking manufacturers with complete hardware and software solutions for a variety of affordable hybrid products, which consumers can mix-and-match to suit their home and the bandwidth requirements.

The Atheros’ efforts come with software which adds “behind the scenes” intelligence to simplify network setup and management for consumers, the company says. It is set up with push button pairing, something which is more and more becoming the standard consumer way of setting up networks.

The reference designs include a single-band, 2.4GHz 802.11n router with 2x2 MIMO antennas and HomePlug AV powerline networking, expected to sell for under $100. A HomePlug adapter with a built-in Wi-Fi range extender will sell for between $50 to $100, and a HomePlug adapter with outputs for wired Fast Ethernet links will sell for under $50.

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