Archive for the ‘HomNet’ Category

ZigBee Smart Energy Certified Products

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

As the industry leader, only ZigBee offers an established, competitive marketplace providing the core technology for monitoring, controlling, and automating the delivery and use of energy and water. ZigBee Smart Energy is the affordable and easy way to improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

The following ZigBee Smart Energy Certified Products were tested to ensure they meet all of the Alliance’s strict specifications and perform as promised. These products represent solutions across the entire efficiency ecosystem – energy services portals, meters, displays, thermostats and load controllers. Each product may wear the ZigBee Certified logo and the green ZigBee Smart Energy icon so that they may be easily identified in the marketplace.

Alektrona offers embedded communications engineering design services. Our specialization is in systems that leverage IP network and wireless ZigBee\ISM band connectivity. As a core member of the ZigBee Gateway group, Alektrona is an active participant in the design and specifications within the Alliance. Our team focuses on engineering high reliability solutions emphasizing system level design with a business level approach. Alektrona Engineering Expertise Includes: ” ZigBee networking and Gateway product design ” ISM band wireless ” Embedded Systems and Microcontroller Hardware ” Firmware and software design ” Sensor and control networks. ” NMS, SCADA and BMS integration ” Internet appliance design ” End to end embedded product design and manufacturing Please contact us at: solutions@alektrona.com 401-228-2962
Z-Aperture ZA07-200-ESP
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Alektrona’s Z-Aperture™ ZA07-200-ESP is the first broadband Energy Service Portal and Internet Gateway to receive ZigBee Smart Energy Golden Unit certification.
Aztech Associates, Inc.
In-Home Display
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Aztech’s In-Home Display communicates directly with smart meters.
Computime International Limited
CTW200
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CTW200 is a thermostat which monitors, controls and displays energy consumption and rate information for ZigBee-enabled residences.
CTW300
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CTW300 is an In Home Display with a large dot matrix screen for users to monitor energy rate and consumption information in residences supporting the ZigBee Smart Energy profile.
Comverge is a leading provider of clean energy solutions that improve grid reliability and supply electric capacity on a more cost effective basis than conventional alternatives by reducing base load and peak load energy consumption
DCU
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Comverge DCU offers a wide range of functionality – from individual addressing to adaptive algorithms
PowerPortal
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Comverge PowerPortal® IHD is an easy to use, AMI ready display that allows consumers to closely track their electricity consumption and receive messages or alerts from their utility provider.
SuperStat Pro
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Comverge’s SuperStat™ Pro is a state-of-the-art “smart” thermostat.
Control4
EC-100
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The EC-100 is an easy to use energy controller that empowers consumers and utilities to better manage energy use and costs.
Cooper Power Systems, Inc., with revenues of approximately $1 billion, is a division of Cooper Industries, Ltd. (NYSE: CBE). Cooper Power Systems is a global manufacturer of world-class power delivery and reliability solutions for the electrical and industrial markets. Cooper Power Systems manufactures distribution transformers, distribution switchgear, reclosers, capacitors, protective relays, voltage regulators, automated switches, cable accessories, surge arrestors, transformer components and dielectric fluids, fuses and tools and it provides engineering services for the electrical and industrial markets. Through its Energy Automations Solutions group, it is also a leading provider of software, communications and integration solutions that enable customers to increase productivity, improve system reliability, and reduce costs. For more information visit www.cooperpower.com or www.cooperpowereas.com.
UtilityPro ZigBee
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Cooper Power Systems – The ZigBee®-enabled UtilityPRO™ is a Honeywell touchscreen programmable thermostat designed for utility-sponsored demand response programs and is equipped with a Cooper demand response module.
Digi International is the leader in device networking for business. Drop-in Networking solutions include ZigBee/802.15.4 embedded modules, stand-alone adapters, extenders and environmental sensors, plus wireless mesh gateways that collect and transport data from the ZigBee network to an IP network via cellular, Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Reliably network-enable devices and sensors where no wired networking infrastructure exists, where network access is prohibited, or when laying cable is impractical or cost-prohibitive.
ConnectPort X2 ESP
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Digi’s ConnectPort X2 ESP enables energy service providers to deploy HAN devices that are completely managed by the Digi gateway over a broadband or cellular connection, allowing Smart Grid services to be deployed in areas not covered by Smart Metering networks.
Smart Energy Range Extender
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Digi’s XBee Range Extender is a certified ZigBee Smart Energy device.
ecobee�s mission is to help homeowners conserve energy, save money and reduce their environmental impact. Our green automation platform sits at the convergence of energy conservation, green technology, the networked home and consumer electronics. Our products automate energy conservation, making it easier to save on energy costs without sacrificing comfort. ecobee targets the large markets of heating, cooling and ventilation, utility demand response and green automation.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat
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ecobee’s green automation platform sits at the convergence of energy conservation, green technology, the networked home and consumer electronics.
Energate Connecting Conservation with Comfort Energate lets you take your smart grid strategy beyond smart meters, to where demand is rooted — in the home. Energate’s home energy management solutions let consumers and utilities manage energy use and reduce peak demand without sacrificing comfort and convenience. Building upon over 25 years of HVAC industry experience, Energate smart thermostats offer industry-leading equipment interface technology and comfort control algorithms.
Pioneer Z100
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Energate Pioneer Z100 – Energate has expanded its Pioneer series of smart thermostats to support the Smart Energy Profile.
Pioneer Z107
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Energate Pioneer Z107 – Energate has expanded its Pioneer series of smart thermostats to support the Smart Energy Profile. Incorporating next generation technology beyond the features found on today’s most sophisticated thermostats, Energate’s Pioneer Series of smart thermostats provide unparalleled performance with an exceptional user interface to meet your current and future needs.
Founded in 2005, Energy Aware Technology is a Canadian company focused on demand side management products that increase awareness of resource consumption and help people save money. Energy Aware’s first product, the PowerTab, is an in-home energy display designed for deployment with smart metering infrastructure.
PowerTab / PowerPortal
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Energy Aware’s PowerTab is an in-home display that uses the Zigbee Smart Energy profile to allow consumers to closely track electricity consumption and costs. The PowerTab’s attractive design and user-friendly interface encourage energy conservation and facilitate increased data flow to end users. The PowerTab’s features include a 100 mW radio, a magnetic backing, and three colour LEDs to indicate tariff rates.
Itron Inc. is a leading technology provider to the global energy and water industries. Itron Inc. consists of Itron in North America and Actaris outside of North America. Our company is the world’s leading provider of metering, data collection and utility software solutions, with nearly 8,000 utilities worldwide relying on our technology to optimize the delivery and use of energy and water. Our products include electricity, gas and water meters, data collection and communication systems, including automated meter reading (AMR) and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI); meter data management and related software applications; as well as project management, installation, and consulting services. To know more, start here: www.itron.com.
Open Way Gas Module
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Itron – OpenWay Gas Module accurately measures natural gas consumption and supports two-way communication with the Itron
OpenWay
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Itron® OpenWay™ is an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution built around OpenWay
In Chinese, Jetlun means literally “save energy”. Jetlun is building the last mile to the Smart Grid and providing an integrated energy network management solution for residential and commercial markets using standard-based network technologies that maximizes the use of a building’s existing wires and wireless networks for total coverage and connectivity. The Jetlun Intelligent Management solution (“JIM”) is a family of energy network management products that provides granular energy usage information– by whole-home, by phase, by circuit, and by appliance– enabling a homeowner or property manager to pinpoint areas that are consuming the most power.
JIM Gateway Pro RD75606
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The JetLun Gateway SE (model RD75606) is the world’s first integrated ZigBee and HomePlug® enabled gateway that collects.
JIM Gateway Pro RD75607
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The JetLun Gateway (model RD75607) is the world’s first integrated ZigBee and HomePlug® enabled gateway that collects, stores and displays real-time energy consumption information and helps you manage and control- both onsite and remotely- your energy usage through a simple user interface on any web browser or any web-enabled phone, such as the Blackberry® or iPhone®.
JIM Gateway Pro RD75609
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The JetLun Gateway Lite SE (model RD75609) is an ZigBee® to IP enabled gateway that collects, stores and displays real-time energy consumption
KDN is providing high-tech total electric power IT service in entire processes of electric power system, such as from power generation to transmission, distribution and sale. As such, KDN is largely contributing to achieving efficiency and advancement in electric power business by establishing IT system. Furthermore, KDN, by securing international competitiveness in international power IT market, will grow into a global specialist in power IT.
KDN Smart Meter
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KDN Smart Meter Single-Phase and Poly-Phase Smart Meters produced by Korea Electric Power Data Network Co.[KDN] are highly accurate, intelligent, and fully featured electricity meters with integrated communication modules. The Smart Meters have special features such as two-way communication via standard-based ZigBee and PLC(Power Line Communication) technologies, two-way measurement, Power Quality measurement(Sag and Swell), Tamper detection and Remote connect/disconnect. IEC standards (IEC 62052, IEC 62053, and IEC 62056) are applied to Smart Meter.
Landis+Gyr is the leading provider of advanced metering, energy efficiency, and infrastructure communication systems to electric, gas, and water utilities worldwide. Landis+Gyr’s proven record of customer satisfaction and value creation is supported by over 20 million customer advanced metering end points in production or under contract worldwide. Landis+Gyr supports its 500+ customers with a staff of over 700 professionals located in offices across the United States.
Landis + Gyr E35C-A
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Landis + Gyr E35C-A is a high performance 2.4GHz ZigBee transceiver that is supplied loaded with ZigBee Smart Energy firmware. The unit is fully certified and works with Landis + Gyr E350 U-Series meters.
The EcoMeter Energy Monitor
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The ecoMeter energy monitor is a critical component in the final delivery of the benefits of the smart grid to its energy end-users; and an integral component in Landis Gyr’s Smart Grid solution – Gridstream. The ecoMeter P250 is the means for energy consumers to become fully informed and directly engaged to their energy consumption; and is the tool of choice to empower consumers to manage energy better.
The Landis Gyr Focus AX
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The Landis Gyr Focus AX endpoint is a ZigBee-enabled advanced metering endpoint that provides two-way communication with the utility, meter and home-area networks.
LS Industrial Systems has been leading the industrial electric controls and automation field in Korea with the advanced technology for decades. Providing top quality products, LS Industrial Systems set the long term goal as “Superiority over quality and product development”. To set the standard of digitalization which will drive the future of the industry, LS Industrial Systems provides Total Solution found on abundant industrial knowledge and technology in electric control, automation, tube & pipe and the new business area.
LK Meter
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The LK Series Single-Phase and Poly-Phase Electric Meters are intelligent, fully featured revenue-grade energy meters with integrated communication function. These solid-state meters feature two-way communication via plug-in type communication modules using standard-based ZigBee® and PLC (Power Line Communication) technology. Each meter complies with IEC 62052, 62053, and 62056 standards.
LS Research is a leading design firm specializing in providing turnkey RF and wireless design services. A perfect match for OEM customers looking to develop high performances low cost short range wireless solutions based on 802.15.4 radio and the Zigbee stack. A sister company, LS Compliance, is an FCC-certified and A2LA-approved EMC testing laboratory offering comprehensive EMC testing and consulting services. L.S. Research and L.S. Compliance W66 N220 Commerce Court Cedarburg, Wisconsin 53012 USA Phone: (262) 375-4400 Fax: (262) 375-4248 E-mail: sales@lsr.com www.lsr.com
RS-SE-24-01
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RS-SE-24-01 – The RATE$AVER is an In-Home-Display device capable of communicating with ZigBee Smart Energy Profile Compliant Energy Service Portals (ESP) withn Utility Meters displaying energy usage data.
OpenPeak Inc. creates, designs, and develops innovative systems and devices that enable simple control of home energy usage, VoIP telephony, digital media, Internet content, and consumer electronics on a single touch screen device. OpenPeak allows utilities to deliver service updates to users on demand today, and provides a platform for the deployment of future energy applications as they are developed. Through the OpenPeak App Shop, the same device can deliver a complete communications package including news, sports, weather, social networking, and instant messaging and is compatible with a variety of communication standards, including ZigBee and Wi-Fi. For more visit www.openpeak.com.
OpenFrame 7EZ
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OpenPeak’s OpenFrame 7E – touch screen device provides an engaging way for consumers to take an active role in managing their energy consumption. By integrating home energy management with on-board multi-media functions, the same device can deliver a complete information and communication experience including news, sports, weather, social networking, music, and family photos.
PRI Limited
Customer Information Panel
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Home Energy Controller (HEC) monitors and displays electricity and gas consumption and cost information on a customer friendly display. Using the ZigBee Smart Energy Profile, it can read any meter that meets the standard and display the data in tabular and/or graphical format to encourage consumers to reduce their energy consumption through better information.
Horstmann S23 Meter Interface
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Single and Poly Phase Multi Rate Meters – ZigBee Smart Energy Certified meter interface can be fitted to PRI and Horstmann electricity meters to provide consumption data to other Smart Energy devices on a network. The meters conform to IEC 62052-11 and are available with optional load control switches, as well as a variety of power ratings to suit any market.
Rainforest Automation makes products that enable residential energy management, and allow utilities to rapidly deploy Smart Grids that are less expensive and more reliable. Our products include EMU™, a utility targeted in-home display (IHD) designed with simplicity and high-volume deployments in mind, and Orchid™, an energy services platform that serves as a low-cost gateway between the utility and the consumer.
Energy Monitoring Unit
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Rainforest Automation’s EMU™ – Energy Monitoring Unit is an In-Home Display designed specifically to meet the technical and budget requirements of utility deployments. The EMU™ has a simple user interface, runs on standard AA batteries, and displays real-time usage, accumulated statistics and provides a peak pricing “traffic-light”. With its 2-way link to the smart meter, EMU can support custom features such as pre-payment, opt-out, and messaging response.
Silver Spring Networks, the leader in IP networking, connects utilities with their customers over a two-way, IP based network, enabling innovation and change. Utilities can enhance the way they interact with customers. Customers are empowered to manage their energy more efficiently. Using this IP-based network, utilities can deploy a scalable, reliable infrastructure from the substation to the customer premise and implement advanced metering, demand response and other applications at a fraction of comparable costs. An open, IP -based network lowers not just capital costs, but total cost of ownership. When planning the network of tomorrow, it helps to partner with a company that makes it available today
Interactive Energy Management
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The Silver Spring CustomerIQ web portal by Greenbox delivers near real-time data on their energy efficiency programs, including consumption and pricing
Telegesis develops and manufactures advanced wireless products to provide low cost, high performance solutions. Telegesis ZigBee ready Module and Development Kit is based upon Ember Corporation’s meshing technology and is the first in a family of products, others of which are already at prototype testing stage. Our low cost Development Kit enables an out-of-the-box mesh network in less than half an hour. Telegesis range of ZigBee products will aid rapid development and integration into OEM products through the provision of complete ‘plug-in’ modules. Telegesis AT-style command line interface software further speeds and facilitates the building of total solutions.
ETRX2USB & ETRX2USB-PA ZSE IHD
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ETRX2USB ZSE-IHD In Home Display – The Telegesis ETRX2USB ZSE-IHD is a high performance 2.4GHz ZigBee transceiver in USB stick form which is supplied loaded with ZigBee Smart Energy (ZSE) IHD firmware. The unit is a fully certified In Home Display and can be supplied with Certicom test or full certificates. An AT command layer on top of the ZSE IHD firmware allows a host application to easily control the stick.
Range Extender & Range Extender-PA
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Telegesis Smart Energy Range extender – The Telegesis Range Extender and Range Extender-PA are fully certified ZigBee Smart Energy (ZSE) units which enable increased distance between nodes in a ZigBee Smart Energy network. If the distance between nodes is too great for communication to be established. By adding one or more Routers in-between an extended ZSE mesh network can be formed.
Tendril focuses on network operations and deployment – the next big stage of the Wireless Sensor and Control Network industry. Our software allows companies to access, deploy, monitor, manage, and integrate networks into the real world. This approach allows Tendril to address the macro trends of energy efficiency, security and life expectancy.
Tendril Insight
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Tendril Insight is an in-home display that communicates with networked smart devices, such as thermostats, electricity meters and outlets, and displays information about consumption levels and energy rates. Empowered with real-time information, energy customers can potentially save money, while utilities can reduce customer service incidents and improve overall load balancing and demand response capabilities.
Tendril Relay
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Tendril Relay is a ZigBee device router that plugs into a standard household outlet. The Tendril Relay extends the range of a smart energy network, making it easier to access and connect devices in large homes and hard-to-reach places, like garages and sheds.
Tendril Transport
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Tendril Transport is an IP gateway that opens a new channel of interaction and collaboration between consumers and their utilities. The Tendril Transport delivers two-way information to consumers and utilities, providing insight into household energy footprints. With the Tendril Transport, customers gain more access to energy-related information and more control over energy consumption decisions. Utilities can better manage supply, demand response and load control scenarios, and costs.
Volt
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Tendril Outlet is a 3-prong, ZigBee Smart Energy electrical outlet that can be plugged into a standard home outlet to monitor and control the energy consumption of any electrical appliance or device. Multiple Tendril Outlets in the same home can be tracked individually or as a group over the Internet or from a local Tendril Display device. The Tendril Outlet gives the consumer unprecedented insight into and control over their household energy footprint, improving their overall energy efficiency.
Volt
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Tendril Volt is a three-prong, standards-based smart electrical outlet that can be plugged into a 110Volt/15A AC standard wall power outlet to turn off or on any connected electrical appliance or device. When used in conjunction with the Tendril Insight or the Tendril Vantage web portal, multiple outlets in the same home can be managed individually or as a group over the Internet, giving consumers unprecedented insight into and control over wasted energy and their household energy footprint.
Trilliant Networks, Inc. is the industry leader in open solutions for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), demand response, and grid management. The company is focused on delivering ANSI and IEEE standards-based AMI, without vendor lock-in, enabling choice of meter, network and IT infrastructures. Trilliant brings over 20 years’ experience solving AMI needs for utility customers through the legacy of its Nertec brand founded in 1985. Additionally Trilliant is the originator of the first ANSI tools for development, simulation and compliance now used by most meter manufacturers and AMI companies to develop and test ANSI meters as well as meter communication products. Trilliant has more than 100 utility customers including Baltimore Gas & Electric, Duke Energy, Hydro One, Hydro Quebec, Milton Hydro, Northeast Utilities, OneOK, Public Service Electric & Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric.
SecureMesh Micro Access Portal
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Trilliant SecureMesh™ Micro Access Portal is independent from the meter and can be embedded in any end-point device including thermostats, in-home displays, appliance controllers or meters. Trilliant’s SecureMesh AMI Network is based on the same IEEE 802.15.4 standard as ZigBee providing an end-to-end fully standards-based solution for energy applications.

IPTV Home Network Solutions

Friday, March 26th, 2010

The future of Home Entertainment Networks is here today.

It’s called IPTV. It is one of the most promising new opportunities for carriers. A recent In-Stat report projects that telco TV subscribers will grow to 71.6 million worldwide by 2012.

Imagine a home entertainment system that offers viewers the freedom to pause a television show in one room and resume watching it in another. That’s possible with IPTV distribution. Viewers can fast forward, rewind, and record while accessing global channels, personal media channels, electronic program guides, and more. It delivers television-on-demand with multiple picture-in-picture features as well as cutting-edge functions enabling viewers to record their favorite shows from wherever they are in the world.

This is great news for telcos. IPTV deployments are proven to stop landline subscriber erosion, increase ARPU, reduce churn and improve broadband purchases. IPTV is also protecting telcos from competitive threats of Triple Play Services coming from the cable industry.

Understanding the Home Entertainment Network

The secret to successful IPTV deployments is to best understand the network inside the home. While access technology is important, the bigger challenge is to have enough bandwidth inside the home entertainment network to deliver the performance and robustness required for pay-TV services.

The Home Entertainment Network is different from the traditional home network in several ways. First, it is essentially a real-time network. There is very little tolerance for network latency. Unlike data networks where the customers can tolerate jitter and other network delay problems, the customer’s expectations for pay-TV services require a much higher robustness.

Second, Home Entertainment Networks are bandwidth intensive. Delivering multiple HDTV streams, Whole Home DVR, and other services all add up in terms of bandwidth. Typically, the throughput requirements for Home Entertainment Networks are 5-10x bigger than those of traditional home data networks.

WiFi and CAT-5 Are Not the Solution

While a widely deployed networking technology such as Ethernet or 802.11 WiFi might seem the obvious choice, they don’t meet the requirements of carriers. They lack the home coverage, cost and/or performance requirements needed to deliver Home Entertainment Networks. WiFi isn’t a viable alternative because it doesn’t have the bandwidth or robustness to deliver the performance required for HDTV streams. Plus, coverage inside the home can be spotty and unreliable.

CAT-5 is also considered a possible technology. However, CAT-5 is not widely available throughout most homes and is very time consuming and expensive to install.

The best approach is to find existing wires in the house that can meet the bandwidth requirements of Home Entertainment Networks. The most reliable approach uses coax, powerline or twisted pair.

HomePNA – the most popular Home Entertainment Network Solution for Carriers

When telcos want to get into IPTV and triple play, the technology they turn to most is HomePNA, the ITU-T based standard G.9954. Four out of the top five largest carriers in North America deploying IPTV have selected HomePNA. In a recent report, HomePNA 3.1 was ranked the most widely deployed IPTV solution amongst service providers worldwide.

What makes HomePNA so relevant to carriers?
It provides all the performance and business attributes telcos want: great performance, compatibility with existing infrastructure and an attractive business model.Telcos that have deployed HomePNA have received higher fixed line retention, higher ARPU, and greater customer satisfaction. To date, the addition of CopperGate-enabled IPTV has generated more than $1 billion in new revenues for service providers.

HomePNA 3.1 delivers high bandwidth IP traffic over existing coax and phone wires. The latest HomePNA solutions deliver more than 200 Mbit/s of continuous throughput – enough to meet all the needs of service providers for the foreseeable future. HomePNA solutions provide enhanced features such as guaranteed quality of service (QoS) and remote management and diagnostics capabilities that were developed specifically to allow telcos to provide reliable cutting-edge television service while minimizing operation expenditures.

HomePNA also works well with telco infrastructure. It coexists with ADSL, VDSL and related technologies. This makes it easy for service providers to quickly and economically deploy IPTV inside the home.
HomePlug AV – The Powerline Solution for Triple-Play Home Entertainment Networking

For service providers and consumers, HomePlug AV 1.1 based solutions provide a cost effective, high performance solution for the most demanding whole-home entertainment networking for triple-play home services – video, audio, data, and voice applications – over existing AC power lines.

For homes without existing coax wiring infrastructure, the powerline provides a cost effective, high performance solution for whole home distribution of video, phone and broadband services. With PHY performance of up to 200 Mbps, HomePlug AV is an excellent choice for consumer home entertainment products where power lines are the distribution media.

G.hn – The Next Generation in IPTV Home Networking

CopperGate welcomes the recent adoption of G.hn, the next generation home networking standard, ratified by members of the International Telecommunications Union in December 2008. This new standard will make IPTV even more popular and cost-effective, thus paving the way for increasingly innovative features and applications throughout the broadband home.

Smart homes today

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Broadband internet and digital TV are seen as the first steps towards smart, networked homes, as they have the potential to be gateways into homes for a wide range of smart applications. Their take up has been rapid; by March 2006, 43 per cent of UK homes had broadband internet connections compared to two years earlier when only 15 per cent did.6 The take up of digital television is driven by government policy to switch all TV to digital by 2012 and 77.2 per cent of British homes had digital TV in some form as reported at the end of 2006.

The technology industry sees smart homes as the next big thing and many companies have smart or digital home programmes. But analysts argue that consumers’ key concerns are still simple problems, like getting all the computers in a house to link to the same printer.

Other than the most technology literate or the very wealthy, consumers do not yet seem to be demanding the advantages of networked homes. Smart homes are therefore more likely to evolve as people purchase different features that link up to each other over time, rather than through an instant technological upgrade.

Even so, many companies and groups are already looking ahead to fully smart homes. The Automated Home initiative (TAHI) aims to “promote, provide the environment for and launch large scale deployments of ‘smart houses’ and the services…for them so that people can see and experience the benefits the connected home can bring and demand them for themselves.” Their working groups look at different aspects of smart homes and want to avoid features developing in isolation, as the ability of smart features to communicate and work together through a home network will be essential to their desirability. TAHI has been feeding in to the European level development of a smart homes specification, as well as developing a mark of interoperability.

A number of BEAMA members already produce smart home technology and the association has a smart homes working group. It sets out what a smart home is, what it can offer and the technologies available on a comprehensive website that promotes their members and provides developers and homeowners with information. Such initiatives will be increasingly important to the development of smart homes, as features start to become commonplace.

Smart homes around the world
The smart homes market in most developed countries is similar to that of the UK, with some key exceptions. South Korea is a clear leader in this area and looking at their achievements illustrates the real potential of smart homes.

Smart homes in South Korea

Following a financial crisis in the 1990s South Korea invested heavily in developing innovative technology. They have introduced the world to the internet fridge, oven and washing machine and are a laboratory for developing the home of the future.

This will help to solve their domestic challenge of dealing with a greying population, as well as providing them with massive export opportunities.

In 2007 the Ministry of Information and Communication will have invested approximately £247 million in supporting the development of original information technology (IT). Part of this will support home networking, which has already received loans to develop 44,000 networked homes. The ultimate aim is to network 10 million homes, with plans to introduce a home network building certification system.

South Korea’s investment in networking is such that they are increasingly looking beyond the smart home to the smart city. The networked home strategy is now part of a larger project to network entire cities, called U-city, which is being promoted by around £11.5 million worth of subsidies to local government bodies and the construction and housing sectors. Dongtan New Town, Korea’s first U-city, is being tested and rolled out from March 2007 and all 1,010 residential units are now networked.

Home networks in South Korea are provided by LG Electronics’ HomNet product or Samsung’s HomeVita. Lotte Castle apartment complex in Seoul is an example of fully networked homes. They have wireless broadband and a HomNet environment that is controlled via TV, a remote control or a keyboard. Cameras relay real time images from other areas of the home and the outdoor playground, DVDs can be copied onto the home’s hard drive, gas and electricity use is tracked, a health monitor checks blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate and there are on-screen controls for the washing machine, the microwave, the air conditioner and the oven.

The entire home can be controlled remotely by mobile phone and residents will be notified of any problems, such as the gas being left on, and can get real time images of their home over the phone.

Other networked homes have voice activated controls, refrigerators that can update residents on their contents and mirrors that display their daily appointments, as well as toilets that send health updates to their doctor.

The focus of smart homes in South Korea is to make life easier, rather than environmental benefits. But as the environmental performance of homes becomes increasingly important in Europe, a key export market, these aspects are likely to be developed and highlighted. The UK’s pursuit of smart homes will be nowhere near as single minded but it does demonstrate what is possible and provide scope for applying South Korean innovations to our environmental ambitions.

Smart homes in the UK
Smart homes in the UK can be found at extreme ends of the housing spectrum.

Wealthy homeowners looking for the latest technology to manage their homes have been installing smart networks and smart applications are also being put into social and sheltered housing because of their healthcare and energy efficiency benefits.

Retrofitting existing homes to make them smarter and to lower their environmental impact, is also now possible.

The mass housing market is between the extremes of high-end mansions and social housing. The average homebuyer is not demanding smart features and developers have no interest in a home’s performance once it is sold, so they have no driver to install energy saving smart features. The market for smart homes, building contractors generally considered that they would remain a rarity except in high-end properties and sceptical about the potential of smart retrofitting, believing it will remain a niche area.

In contrast to this pessimism, smart home contractors and manufacturers are very positive, regarding “the forward march of the intelligent home as almost inevitable.