Robust home network coverage is essential to realize the smart home dream of the future, including HD video streaming, according to Yuqing Niu, Chair of HomeGrid Forum in Asia.
Despite all the excitement around smart home, its deployment has yet to gain traction in China. The main reason for this is that people’s expectations and ideas of smart homes are built upon existing technologies.
Many people believe technologies like Wi-Fi and ZigBee can meet the connectivity demands of a smart home. However, Ms. Niu believes otherwise. Consider the amount of bandwidth required for high-definition (4K or even 8K) video or large amounts of streaming, which requires point-to-point service. Or, in other words, a reliable and robust connection. “It would be next to impossible to guarantee performance and reliability with wireless transmission currently available on the market now,” she said.
A robust network environment at home is critical to handle ubiquitous video distribution, wireless coverage, sensor management and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. High bandwidth is necessary to make smart services, such as virtual reality or video on demand, possible.
“This is where G.hn technology comes in. It sends digital content over any wire, including powerline, coaxial cable, copper pair or phone lines. G.hn compliments other transmission technologies like Wi-Fi and ZigBee, for example. More specifically, G.hn provides Wi-Fi backbone by robust, high bandwidth networking via wires, to ensure network coverage in every corner of the home. This technical know-how is already here, and in fact, the practice is currently implemented by many in the industry,” said Ms. Niu.
Wi-Fi transmission is sufficient to relay signals from low-to-medium bandwidth applications to smartphones and mobile devices at home. Certain controls may be enabled via low-power technologies like ZigBee or other narrow band IoT standards. G.hn, on the other hand, can meet the high-bandwidth demands of other applications.
“This is necessary in China since wireless signal is typically weak and coverage is poor inside homes due to concrete walls, and this cannot be resolved by evolving wireless technologies. Take 802.11ac Wi-Fi at 5GHz as an example. The wall penetration capability of the Wi-Fi signal actually weakens because of its shorter wavelength,” commented Ms. Niu.
Again, this is where G.hn come to the rescue. “Establishing connections in every room via power lines, coaxial cables, phone lines, etc., before turning it over to low-power wireless signals, is the best of both worlds,” stressed Ms. Niu.
The definition of a smart home can vary depending on the needs of the consumer. While some like the idea of remote-controlled air conditioning , others prefer the idea of having a chicken stew cooked before arriving home from work. A wide range of applications can be realized via G.hn as almost all home appliances are powered by wall sockets that can be connected to the Cloud. For example, a washing machine can be connected to its manufacturer or even a smart grid for more efficient power management.
HomeGrid Forum (HGF) is an industry alliance that started in 2008 and the first HGF certified product was deployed in 2013. HGF brings together silicon vendors, system manufacturers and service providers to promote G.hn. The global members of the HomeGrid Forum promote the use of G.hn over powerline, coax, copper pairs and plastic optical fiber – thus meeting the needs of every home network.