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January 29, 2013

As IEEE P1901.2 Standard Nears Approval, HomePlug Plans Certification Process



The Portland Oregon-based HomePlug (News - Alert) Alliance today congratulated the IEEE P1901.2 Working Group on its letter ballot approval of the draft standard for Low-Frequency Narrow-Band Powerline Communications for Smart Grid Applications (P1901.2).

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The new IEEE P1901.2 standard is designed to specify secure powerline communications (PLC) at data rates up to 500 kilobits per second (kbps) and at transmission frequencies of less than 500 kilohertz (kHz) for applications such as:

  • Grid to utility meter
  • Electric vehicle (EV) to charging station
  • Home area networking and lighting
  • Solar-panel communications

Two powerful market forces are converging to drive the implementation of effective home networking: high-bandwidth consumer applications and the urgent need to develop the smart grid. Both require an effective home network with high quality of service for consumer applications (HDTV, IPTV (News - Alert), gaming) and high reliability for smart grid applications.

While local area networks in commercial buildings and campuses are ubiquitous – and have mature standards in place (IEEE (News - Alert) 802.3X and IEEE 802.11X) – home networking has been characterized as a mix of competing interests and standards that have held back the widespread implementation of a robust home networking topology. That picture is now getting much clearer.

Founded in 2000, the HomePlug Alliance is an industry group that supports standards and provides certification for powerline networking. A new division of Homeplug – Netricity PLC – will serve as the certification and marketing agent for the upcoming 1901.2 standard.

Additionally, HomePlug will promote the adoption of Netricity PLC to foster an ecosystem served by multiple technology vendors. Customers such as utilities and energy companies benefit from having a variety of interoperable products from which to choose.


Image via Shutterstock

“Our goal with Netricity PLC is to provide customers such as utility and energy companies [with] the foundation of a global standard [and] with a competitive ecosystem of certified products from many vendors,” said Rob Ranck, president of the HomePlug Alliance. “Netricity PLC extends the member contributions of the HomePlug Alliance to cover all key markets for powerline communications.”

A key manufacturer of networking equipment sees the value in the new standard. “We are thrilled at the achievement of this milestone in the IEEE P1901.2 approval process,” said Gary Stuebing, manager, Engineering, Worldwide Standardization of Smart Grid Networks, Cisco (News - Alert) Systems, Inc., in San Jose, California. “Cisco is eager to integrate the standard in development of new products for the burgeoning smart energy/smart metering market.”

As is the case with other IEEE communications standards, the letter ballot approval of the draft standard serves to encourage companies to move forward with product plans. HomePlug is launching a special team within its Certification Working Group to develop the Netricity PLC testing programs to ensure product interoperability. Companies interested in developing and promoting the adoption of this new standard are invited to consider joining the HomePlug Alliance. 

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Edited by Braden Becker
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