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AT&T backs up HomeGrid promises and joins the board

After a lot of fuss, claims and counterclaims, the HomeGrid Forum delivered partially on one of its core promises, with AT&T not actually coming out a

By PETER WHITE

Published: 2 June, 2011

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After a lot of fuss, claims and counterclaims, the HomeGrid Forum delivered partially on one of its core promises, with AT&T not actually coming out and saying it would install G.hn, but joining the HomeGrid Forum as a promoter member. This stirs up the fight for the dominant technology to carry video around the digital home.

HomeGrid has publicly stated that AT&T was in the bag, and that Best Buy will drop HomePlug products as soon as G.hn products are out – both assertions have been questioned or ridiculed by rivals. But AT&T must want to at least see what this technology has to offer and it has now been appointed to the HomeGrid Forum board of directors in the form of Tom Starr, lead member of the Technical Staff at AT&T.

Matt Theall, President of HomeGrid Forum, said, β€œAT&T U-verse is a strong product offering, and with an always-evolving market, G.hn offers the potential to support and help continue expanding their services. We are happy to have AT&T as a voice within our organization and look forward to their valuable contributions.”

AT&T is seen as the only backer that can make G.hn credible. Right now AT&T uses HPNA, in its U-Verse implementation, a technology which was selected because it could go over both coaxial cable and twisted pair, and AT&T thought its own twisted pair telephony heritage would benefit from the possibility, although all installations are carried out with Coax. The chip maker behind HPNA was Coppergate, which has since been acquired by Sigma Designs, and which has now shipped 20 million chips globally. G.hn is seen as the follow on product for HPNA although it has a power line element, as well as going over any cabling.

AT&T is the latest in a line of high-profile organizations to collaborate on G.hn. Other board members include Marvell, Best Buy, BT, Intel, Lantiq, Sigma Designs, and Telefonica.

As a lead member of the technical staff at AT&T Labs, Starr is responsible for the development and standardization of new local access technologies for AT&T's network. He holds several dozen industry patents and is the chair of ITU-T working groups, and is chairman of the Broadband Forum.

Any way rivals cut it, if AT&T finally goes ahead with G.hn it will have a lifeline and other operators may follow, in which case that would split the world with MoCA, HomePlug and WiFi on one side, HomeGrid on the other and 60 GHz and pure WiFi wireless options also coming into play. However our own feeling is that AT&T wants this to be a fair fight and felt that G.hn was getting marginalized. AT&T will want to see products on the table and check likely pricing before it finally puts orders out there for interconnecting devices within its 3 million IPTV homes.

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