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HomePNA enjoys loyal but shrinking fan base

Aug 04, 20033 mins
Cellular NetworksRouters

Readers recount why they like the technology, despite clear signs its days are numbered.

Readers recount why they like the technology, despite clear signs its days are numbered

Even with the recent release of the HomePNA 3.0 specification, the technology’s future remains in doubt. Adapters, bridges and routers have all but disappeared from retail shelves.’s product pages are riddled with dead links, a graveyard of product offerings long since pulled from the market. Moreover, the usually very responsive representatives of the Home Phoneline Network Alliance aren’t returning calls.  

Linksys is the only popular vendor still producing gear, but it says “the numbers are very small,” and it has pulled HPNA support from its residential gateways. Curiously, Netgear still sells a cable/DSL phone line router. There’s still 2Wire, an early and fervent supporter, but few ILECs (save BellSouth) remain interested.  

Analysts doubt Version 3.0 will ever get off the ground. HPNA chipmaker Broadcom says it’s “not planning on completing its HomePNA 3.0 program at this time.” Instat/MDR analyst Mike Wolf (and our “Digital Domicile” columnist) says, “I don’t have much hope for HomePNA 3.0. Why put in the effort if there is no one who will build products?”

Even so, many readers are still using it — and loving it. Overall, they said they like the stability, security and ease of use. And for many, it’s a good fit in difficult-to-network homes.

  • Jim Reinardy writes: “I own an 80-year-old house with an Ethernet network, file server, cable modem and Linux machine in the basement. There’s no easy way to get wiring up from the basement to the other floors or to my family room, which is built on a concrete slab. In both cases, HomePNA has proven a great solution for me, even at 10M bit/sec speeds. I thought about wireless, but why incur the expense and security issues? I also doubt I could get good coverage with my thick plaster walls, wood floors, etc. I’ll stick with HPNA and am interested in 3.0. It’s not new or sexy, but it works.”

  • Chris Nichols writes: “I went with HPNA for the price and ease of installation. I networked three computers for less than $150, including the router. My house doesn’t have a basement and part of the attic is inaccessible to run Cat-5 cable. I live near radio and TV towers and have interference problems with other wireless devices and didn’t care to risk it. Even with Version 2.0 (10M bit/sec), I’m able to stream full-screen video and audio from the Internet without much trouble. Interference and distance are non-issues. USB makes adapter installation a non-issue as well. I can’t wait for HPNA 3.0.”

  • Bill Flusek writes: “My home has six phone jacks and while not perfectly placed, they do well enough. I like HPNA 2.0 because I know what I have for a connection and haven’t had issues with it not working, as I have with wireless. It’s somewhat disappointing to see so little HNPA gear in retail. Still, I would love to see this technology survive because it is more secure than wireless. Most of my friends with wireless wouldn’t have security if I didn’t turn it on for them because they don’t know how to enter the keys.”

  • Jerry Lacy writes: “My house is conveniently set up to use HPNA to connect four computers to the Internet. It seems trouble free and [immune to] interference from appliances or wireless devices in the neighborhood. My concern is that the technology is being phased out and I might be left with no support.”