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Airties points way to HD video on shared WiFi/powerline networks

When a company like Turkey’s Airties, one of the earliest home gateway firms to specialize in Wi-Fi for HD video, starts talking about Powerline, you


Published: 30 June, 2011


When a company like Turkey’s Airties, one of the earliest home gateway firms to specialize in Wi-Fi for HD video, starts talking about Powerline, you can be sure that it plans to move into the space and given that Airties is an out and out Broadcom shop, the implication is that it will be done with Broadcom chips, even if it’s not done with Broadcom’s help.

And the discussion we had this week with Metin Ismail Taskin, Chief Technology officer of Airties, pointed us right in this direction.

He spent about 15 minutes taking us through the obvious problems operators will have trying to roll out any kind of powerline across Europe, whether that is HomePlug, HomePlug AV or the powerline element of, simply because the way in which parts of Europe are wired up. It is true that Germany and his native Turkey and many other countries have buildings where there are multiple power grids per home, while concentrated conurbations like Paris and Brussels have an inordinate number of multi dwelling units where a single low voltage power grid is shared by multiple residencies.

He also talked about interference on power lines from other devices and said that the humble handset re-charger was one of the worst device profiles for this and they are on the rise, and pointed at attenuation on inferior grade cabling and some examples of 3 phase electricity being in use. There is also interference created by powerline on VDSL (which operates in similar spectrum to powerline) when powerline emits an RF signal which penetrates the DSL cabling.

It is true that European power is a hodgepodge and each local market needs perhaps a different approach.

But where Airties is going with all this is working on a single heterogeneous network, but perhaps wants to go a step beyond the IEEE P1905.1 standard which allows applications and upper layer protocols to be agnostic to the underlying home networking technologies, by the addition of intelligence into the network so that this can be done to a set policy. If P1905 allows for either channel - powerline or WiFi to be used - Airties is working on firmware to sit above this layer and control the process and intelligently aggregate bandwidth across them both. We think this would rather resemble a mesh networking system, which intelligently samples the available routes across both mediums and selected one, dynamically re-selecting periodically.

The end result would be very similar to the way Airties products work today in pure WiFi, sampling different channels in both 2.4 GH and 5 GHz and deciding on which channel is going to be right for the HD video it is sending around the home. Typically the same algorithms it uses for this could be used for a combined solution, sitting as an application running on an SoC CPU above both the WiFi and powerline MAC layers. Such a strategy would make it possible to move equipment to any country in Europe and be sure that HD video would make it around the home, opting for WiFi where the walls are thin and there is little RF interference and using powerline on appropriately configured power cables and when there is little power interference going on.

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