The first global standard offering an in-home, high-speed network capable of delivering room-to-room HDTV has been agreed by ITU.
The standard, published under the G.hn banner, promises high quality multimedia over power, coaxial, phone and other home wiring. It will give up to 20 times the throughput of existing wireless technologies and three times that of existing wired technologies.
The specifications will be used by chip manufacturers to build transceivers that can be incorporated into set-top boxes, residential gateways, home computers, home audio systems, DVD players, TVs or any other device that might be connected to a network now or in the future. Experts say that silicon companies will immediately start incorporating the specifications into transceivers, implying that G.hn-compliant products could be on the market as early as 2010.
Joyce Putscher, Principal Analyst at market research firm In-Stat, said, “Service operators have been looking for an international standard that encompasses multiple existing-wire mediums for video distribution. G.hn meets that requirement and it seems clear that with significant industry backing from service providers, semiconductor and equipment vendors, and the fast rate at which the process is moving to achieve a standard, we will see first equipment by 2010.”
“There’s a clear market need for a unified networking approach,” said Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. “With G.hn, every wire in every home around the world can become part of a home entertainment network. This will enable seamless communication between computers, HDTVs and telephones over existing wires. I expect that this exciting new technology will also foster innovations such as energy efficient smart appliances, home automation and telemedicine devices.”
Work on G.hn was started at the instigation of service providers looking to extend broadband and video services in the home. As well as its offer of greater speed, it may be bundled as complementary to Wi-Fi where G.hn offers greater coverage, extending, for example, to areas of a house where Wi-Fi does not reach.
The standard has achieved remarkable industry backing even before its publication. An industry group — the HomeGrid Forum
— has been formed specifically to back G.hn. The goal of HomeGrid Forum is to market G.hn worldwide and to create a compliance and interoperability programme to ensure that products based on the standard will operate in any home around the world.
Other industry analysts backing the standard include Michael Wolf, Research Director at ABI Research. “If G.hn sees integration into carrier devices by 2010, we expect that some 42 million G.hn-compliant nodes will ship in 2013 in devices such as set-top boxes, residential gateways and other service provider CPE hardware,” Wolf said.
“A single, unified technology for multimedia networks over power lines, coaxial cable, and phone lines has the potential to enable a simple, easy-to-use means of networking devices in the home,” said Kurt Scherf, analyst with market analyst firm Parks Associates. “We believe ITU’s work is an important step towards eliminating fragmentation in the industry and in achieving the vision of a networked home.”
Recommendation ITU-T G.9960 focuses on the physical or PHY layer, giving the data bit rate and quality of service necessary for triple-play residential services as well as business-type services delivered over xDSL, PON, or other access technology. In step with ITU guidelines on new standards development, several power saving modes have been incorporated. Ongoing work is focused on the media access control (MAC) layer.