Tips & Tricks: Advancements in Powerline - A grounding experience

June 27, 2011 // By Ganesh Swaminathan
Ganesh Swaminathan of Qualcomm Atheros outlines a number of tips on how to get the best out of powerline technologies to deliver carrier-grade triple-play applications in the home.

As the consumer electronics industry is revolutionizing the way people consume content in the home, there is an underlying need for a reliable and capable networking technology to enable this connectivity. Even though a mix of technologies exists – Ethernet and wireless – consumers often desire a connectivity option that blends ease-of-use, reliability and ubiquity. Enter powerline.

Even though powerline technologies have existed since the 1980s, the HomePlug Alliance was established in 2000 to create several standards that support broadband and smart grid applications in the home. Over the last decade, this alliance has published the HomePlug 1.0, HomePlug AV, HomePlug GreenPHY standards and will publish its next generation HomePlug AV2 technology standard later this year. HomePlug technology is also the baseline technology for the newer IEEE 1901 global standard for powerline. With the help of these standards and the wider adoption of the technology by retailers and service providers alike, HomePlug has become the technology of choice for many carrier-grade triple-play (voice, video and data) applications in the home.

Communication signals over powerline face a variety of impairments – high attenuation, dynamic noise, impedance loading – caused by devices (loads) turning on or off. Powerline signals can typically propagate between any two points by several paths, each of varying lengths. As a result, signals get reflected, arrive at the destination out-of-order and possibly with different amplitude levels. This may lead to signal distortion. Further, depending on the location of the impairments, signal-to-noise characteristics and channel rate changes. With the help of advanced MAC/PHY technologies and robust error correction techniques, HomePlug powerline technologies have provided a robust and secure connectivity offering to consumers.

Older powerline technologies, such as X10, operated at lower frequencies and hence did not work across phases or leg wires of transformer. With the advent of HomePlug, carrier frequencies jumped from kHz to MHz and powerline technology was able to couple across phases by overcoming the impedance

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