Comms chips

G.hn Chips Away at Product Promises

Chips are starting to emerge for the G.hn standard, but don't expect any products to come equipped with the speedy coax/powerline/phoneline home networking platform until at least the middle of next year.

Ahead still is a wave of compliance and interoperability testing to ensure that chips such as the Sigma Designs Inc. (Nasdaq: SIGM) CG5110 -- announced today -- conform with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standard and play nice with chips from competitors. Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) and Lantiq Semiconductor are expected to debut G.hn-based chipsets of their own in short order. (See Marvell Buys Into G.hn , G.hn Gets Approved, and ITU Advances G.hn.)

Interoperability testing should begin in the first quarter of next year, about the time Sigma expects to ship samples, says Michael Weissman, Sigma's VP of corporate marketing. He's also a board member of HomeGrid Forum , which, along with the Broadband Forum , will be tasked with G.hn certification testing. (See Broadband Forum Gives Nod to G.hn and G.hn No Slam Dunk With Service Providers.)

"I think you'll see [G.hn] products in the second half of next year," he predicts.

Early on, he expects the technology to reside in home networking bridges, residential gateways, set-tops, and personal computers, followed by a range of over-the-top video streaming boxes, Blu-ray players, and, eventually, TVs and home A/V systems.

Without committing to an exact figure, Weissman estimates G.hn chips will cost $10 or less, but more than Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) chips.

"Will it be $1 or more than MoCA? It might," he says, arguing that the cost difference would be made up by eliminating (or at least reducing) installation truck rolls.

Recently, MoCA has countered that argument by saying the pro-install model will continue for a while regardless of which home networking technology or technique is in play. (See Relax, Enjoy a Cup of MoCA and Home Networking's War of Words Rages On.)

MoCA has been dominating the US service provider landscape (the technology counts 30 million nodes in the field) and is now starting to shift focus to the higher-capacity 2.0 version while establishing closer ties with HomePlug Powerline Alliance . (See MoCA Is Go for 2.0 and MoCA, HomePlug Get It On.)

The big question is how well G.hn can do in the US, where AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is considered a prime candidate for the technology. Overseas, G.hn could do well if two HomeGrid board members, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), decide to adopt it in a big way.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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