Broadband Communities

OCT 2014

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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76 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | OCTOBER 2014 TECHNOLOGY Carrier-Class Wi-Fi in the Home Is the end of in-home wiring in sight? By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities F rom the beginning of the FTTH era, distributing fber bandwidth inside homes has challenged service providers. After terminating a fber at a resident's doorway, a provider must still deliver bandwidth to computers, televisions, phones and an ever- growing number of connected gadgets. In new buildings, FTTH providers encourage builders to install structured Ethernet cabling, a robust and reliable technology; serving existing homes poses more problems. Because telephone, coaxial and power lines already run through most residents' homes, service providers try to use those wires whenever possible. Equipment vendors and large operators collaborated to create an alphabet soup of protocols for sending high bandwidth over existing wires; HPNA, MoCA, HomePlug and G.hn are among those that have generated the most support. Tese approaches work well in homes whose wiring is in good condition and suitably confgured. However, engineers have struggled to increase home-networking speeds as fast as Internet speeds, which keep leapfrogging ahead. For example, the current version of MoCA, a protocol for delivering bandwidth over in- home coaxial cables, supports a maximum sustained throughput of 800 Mbps – which is a bottleneck for gigabit Internet access. In addition, installing and maintaining wired in-home networks can be a major expense and headache for service providers. In older homes, existing wiring may not even support high bandwidth. Wiring that was installed long before the Internet existed obviously wasn't designed with broadband service in mind; even if the confguration is appropriate, the wires themselves may be in poor condition. Additionally, in apartment buildings, especially when power lines are used for broadband, there may be interference between home networks in adjacent apartments. When they can't deliver broadband over existing home wiring, service providers must usually install structured Ethernet cabling – a very expensive and disruptive retroft. Some homeowners forgo ordering FTTH service because they don't want service providers to drill into their walls. Te holy grail of in-home networking has always been wireless, which is fexible, inexpensive and nondisruptive. Te Wi-Fi standard is immensely popular for short-range wireless communications, and the majority of broadband households use Wi-Fi in the home to support mobile devices. Most broadband home gateways now have built-in Wi-Fi routers. Yet until now, Wi-Fi routers have not been up to the task, in terms of coverage, capacity or reliability, of supporting a complete home networking system. The holy grail of in-home networking has always been wireless, but until now, Wi-Fi has not been robust enough to serve as a complete solution.

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