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System Integration for the Connected Home

Networking

Powerline is a Home Networking Winner

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Victor Dominguez of Spain's D2, one of the leaders in Powerline
Broadband over Powerline (BPL) has been around long enough that many simply dont consider it any more. Yet, BPL is back-- emerging steadily over the past several years for in-home networking, access/utility company applications, reports In-Stat.

With no new cabling needed, broadband powerline networking is emerging as a winner in the race for multimedia home networking worldwide.

"Management and conservation of energy has become the overriding driver for smart grid, utility applications, where both broadband and low-speed powerline communications will play a roll.  As a result, we expect solutions using HomePlug Command and Control solutions to emerge in a big way, although we envision many combination solutions evolving including powerline and low-speed wireless technologies" says Joyce Putscher, In-Stat analyst.

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

  1. Surpassing the inflection point in 2006, worldwide broadband powerline equipment based on HomePlug, CEPCA and UPA powerline reached 5.4 million.
  2. Global growth for broadband powerline networking equipment will approach 100% in 2007.
  3. Although broadband has gained most of the attention, the HomePlug Command & Control (HPCC) low-speed specification has recently been approved with meaningful shipments expected in 2008. 
  4. Worldwide market acceptance is expected to be strong over the next five years, driven by many regional mandates for energy management and savings.

(From their research, "Powerline Home Networking 2007 Update: Gaining Power in the Global Market")

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New I.T. Association Promotes Certification

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Leading corporations, associations and education and training providers will form the Information Technology Certification Council (ITCC) to promote the advantages and benefits of IT certification.

Founding members of the ITCC include HP, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, and Sun; the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and the Linux Professional Institute (LPI); test development and delivery providers Pearson VUE and Prometric; and education provider Kaplan.

"The industry has come together to drive the value of certification," says Bill Horzempa, ITCC chair and director of the Worldwide HP Certified Professional Program at HP. 

The ITCC intends to confront many issues facing the IT certification industry, including exam security; perceptions versus realities of IT certification value and return on investment; and training to testing ratios.

Cisco is noticeably absent, but the founders rank as some of the companies that earn the most from getting their channel customers to certify.

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WiMax Hasn't Won Yet--Says HSPA

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High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) wireless technology is here today in some markets and getting faster, and may end up being more popular than WiMax and other emerging broadband wireless technologies.

Of course, that's the view of the GSM Association (GSMA), which represents HSPA carriers globally.

The reason HSPA could prove more popular than other alternatives is that it is built upon GSM networks, which reach 2.5 billion users today. GSM handsets can cost as little as US$20 apiece.

There are 128 HSPA commercially available networks in 61 countries, reaching at least 5 million users.

The GSMA represents more than 700 GSM mobile phone operators in 218 countries and territories. GSM provides the underpinnings of HSPA, which many refer to as a 3.5G wireless technology. HSPA is a software upgrade from W-CDMA networks, which were built atop GSM.

GSMA is not attacking WiMax technology, but GSMA is saying "there's not a huge difference in performance" between what WiMax and HSPA will eventually offer.

Across the commercially available HSPA networks globally, 1Mbit/sec. is about the average speed, although an Austrian carrier has nearly doubled that number. And the peak rate, for some, is 7.2Mbit/sec.

Juniper Research also forecasts that HSPA would dominate mobile broadband network deployments over the next five years, and make up 70% of the total mobile broadband subscriber base until 2012. In that year, more than 1 billion people will subscribe to a mobile broadband service, out of 3 billion in all.

WiMax will perhaps reach 9% of the market total in 2012.

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HANA Teams with CABA

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The High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance (HANA) has teamed up with the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) to promote the planned 2.0 version of its technology for distributing high-definition video throughout the home.

HANA and CABA plan to promote a whole-home solution for moving HD content throughout the home.

HANA is an alliance of content owners, service providers, CE and IT manufacturers, and software developers. CABA is a North American association that promotes technologies for automating homes and other types of buildings. Its goals include the encouragement of industry-wide interoperability standards.

HANA technology was designed initially as a single-cable way of interconnecting components in a home A/V system and coordinating the operation of those components.

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DLNA Expands Certification Program

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The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) launches a certification program for Version 1.5 of its home-network interoperability guidelines and expects the first certified v1.5 devices to be available Q1 2008.

The v1.5 guidelines:

  • Enable transfer of audio, video and digital images back and forth between compliant home devices and mobile devices (cellphones, PMPs and car A/V systems)
  • Enable DLNA-certified networked printers to print out images displayed on TVs and cellphones
  • Add “push” devices to provide more convenient control of networked devices in the home. Networked remote controls and cellphones, for example, would be able to discover devices on the network, discover the content on the devices and push content from one device to another for viewing or listening. (Previously the guidelines allowed only for devices that pulled content from other devices for local viewing or listening.)

The launch of the extended certification program is about five months later than the organization originally intended when it approved the expanded guidelines.

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Nortek Companies Embrace Digi5 Home-Grown Cat5 Audio Technology

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A new Cat5-based audio hopes to become an industry standard. The technology, Digi5, is a product of five companies within Nortek’s Linear Home Technology Group: Elan (and sub-brand Aton), Linear, Niles, SpeakerCraft and Xantech. .

Digi5 is not a product, but a platform. Each Linear company is developing its own products based on the technology, and will tap its own channels to bring product to market. All products across brands, however, will be interoperable.

There are three basic product formats: a rack master hub, source input plate and three types of keypads.

The big difference between Digi5 and some of the other Cat5 technologies is the digital architecture of Digi5.

Digi5 offers more power—30 watts per channel RMS at 8 Ohms—than conventional keypad amplifiers for two reasons, says the group.

  1. Digi5 uses digital amps, which boast 85% efficiency, as opposed to Class A/B analog amps that are on average only 45 percent efficient, and
  2. Digi5 uses four wires for power and ground to achieve more power than either analog or digital amplified keypad systems that only use two wires for power and ground.

When installed on an equal length of Cat5, Digi5 provides nearly four times the power of a conventional Class A/B product with more total SPL, tighter sounding bass and more headroom before clipping,” argues the company..

The group plans to license Digi5 to third parties to try to make the technology the dominant platform for Cat5 multiroom audio.

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ATEN Germ-Free KVM Switches

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ATEN Technology unveils the first LCD KVM switches to feature an anti-microbial nano-coating designed to kill bacteria left on the devices by human hands.

The average desk is known to harbor 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat--and some of the most germ-contaminated items include the keyboard and mouse.

Yet network administrators rarely have time to clean their desktops that could lead to the spread of bacteria in the data center. The presence of microbes contributes to the spread of pneumonia, the flu, pink eye and strep throat, and other contagions.

"We have designed these groundbreaking and nanocoated enterprise KVM switches to serve the needs of network administrators who operate in 'clean room' environments such as hospitals, laboratories, manufacturing facilities and others," says Sampson Yang, CEO of ATEN Technology. "Beyond these specific environments, product protective anti-microbial nano-coating can benefit data centers and multi-user environments, as well as server rooms within libraries, schools or government facilities where protection is critical."

All of ATEN's products will eventually offer the protective anti-microbial nanocoating…but the first will be the KVM switches like the KL9108M (Hideaway LCD IP-based KVM that can control up to 8 / 16 computers and can be accessed from any computer via a web browser.)

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