Comms chips

Did HomePlug Give Intel the Boot?

1:00 PM -- Many months ago a rumor surfaced that the HomePlug Powerline Alliance kicked Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) out after it was growing clear that the chip giant was starting to throw its considerable weight behind G.hn, the budding International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standard that tends to get viewed as a big competitor to other home networking technologies that use powerlines. (See G.hn Chips Away at Product Promises .)

The source on that rumor was pretty good, but I sat on it for a while, and then sorta forgot about it.

Well, it crept back into my head when I had a chance to speak to HomePlug President Rob Ranck at last week's International CES in Las Vegas. So I couldn't resist bringing up what I had heard to see if he might be able to shed some light on the situation. He did. Sort of.

"Sometimes rumors are true," Ranck said, and pretty much left it at that. Not an admission, but not a denial, either. But feel free to read between the lines. I failed to check if the Intel logo was imprinted on the instep of Ranck's right foot, so the physical evidence remains elusive.

And Intel's been sort of coy about its interest in G.hn. In fact, the HomeGrid Forum , the marketing arm for G.hn, doesn't include Intel on its membership list. We've asked HomeGrid if Intel is indeed now a member and it just hasn't updated the list yet.

However, Matthew Theall, a technology strategist at Intel, currently serves as president of HomeGrid, so feel free to read between the lines again.

Oh, and if you want to read some actual lines, here's a G.hn whitepaper coauthored by Intel and HomeGrid.

Update: Intel responds
For starters, my eyes must've missed it earlier, but Intel is indeed listed as a Promoter member of HomeGrid, so Intel's involvement with the org is on the up-and-up.

Also, an Intel official offers a different story about its recent history with HomePlug, where it happened to serve in a presidential role for three years. Intel says any implication that it got kicked out is an "incorrect statement." Here's the rest of Intel's statement, sent via e-mail Thursday afternoon:

Intel chose to back HomeGrid and resigned from the HomePlug Board because it was clear to us that the fragmentation in the market wasn't going to be resolved, as the wired networking battle was between three powerline technologies -- HomePlug, UPA, HD-PLC -- and two COAX technologies -- MOCA and HPNA over COAX.

Intel evaluated G.hn and felt this was the best way to break through the wired networking stalemate: by developing/promoting a next-generation technology -- in other words, leap ahead of the existing technology quagmire -- [and] work with the service providers/telcos to develop a technology that they could support.

Which may, of course, help explain why the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) is now eager to develop a standard that manages Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) , Ethernet, broadband over powerline, and Wi-Fi. (See IEEE to Blend MoCA, Powerline & Wi-Fi .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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