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IEEE goes home

Aug 19, 20042 mins
NetworkingSmall and Medium BusinessWi-Fi

* IEEE study group looks at home network standards possibilities

Home networking continues to take off, and standards efforts are trying to keep pace, as the IEEE launches a study group to look at what standards should be set from an Ethernet perspective.

The formation of the IEEE’s 802.3 Residential Ethernet Study Group comes on the heels of the release of the Home Networked Device Interoperability Guidelines v1.0 from the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA). The guidelines are for manufacturers of networked home equipment looking to interoperate with others.

DLNA was formed by industry heavyweights such as IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony and others. The guidelines basically define two major components, a media server and a media-rendering device, and specifies that they should be based in IP, HTTP, UPnP and Wi-Fi protocols.

The major concern of home networking is turning to audio and video. Ideally, you would be able to share audio and video streams between your home computer and your stereo and TV, etc., etc.

Both the IEEE and the DLNA recognize that consumer Ethernet is already a reality, as residences either run Ethernet cable throughout their homes or connect gear wirelessly via Wi-Fi. The question now is what standards need to be in place to make sure that all the gear plays well together instead of using proprietary communication methods.

One area the IEEE group is looking at is what needs to be done to make sure audio and video traverse a home Ethernet network in real-time without any hiccups. Jitter and latency must be kept to a minimum, limited for each application. Bandwidth must be guaranteed, so multiple streams don’t interfere with each other. And if you wanted the same song playing throughout your home, that audio has to be synchronized.

Ethernet has come a long way, and this is really just the beginning of a new chapter of expansion. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.