Atheros pushing WiFi/powerline combo for smart grid

WiFi chip giant Atheros is looking to integrate WiFi with powerline systems after acquiring chip specialist Intellon last year to squeeze in on the smart-grid craze, according to an article in Rethink Wireless.


When the company purchased Intellon last September, Atheros CEO Craig Barratt indicated that the WiFi/powerline combination plus Ethernet could serve as the "backbone of the home network." Atheros, however, has a lot of baggage to deal with when it comes to standards making for the smart grid. Powerline has six different candidate standards and other platforms like ZigBee and Bluetooth are pushing their way into the smart grid. Atheros hopes to round up enough industry weight to streamline the standards confusion. It is focusing on a mesh networking approach.

Speaking at the recent Embedded Systems conference, Atheros CTO Bill McFarland indicated that a mesh standard that encompasses WiFi and powerline along with the Multimedia over Coax (MoCA) home networking platform could advance the creation of standardized in-home systems. "We are interested in standardization, but we will do it in a focused way. We are only talking about home networking." In the past, various attempts to create mesh standards have floundered because their remit was too broad, covering vastly different mesh applications from metro area networks to military to home. Along with the MoCA, Atheros has been talking to the HomePlug Powerline Alliance (HPPA).

However, Atheros is in the early stages of creating its own mesh technology. It only has demonstrated traffic delivery a few hops across WiFi and powerline, said the EETimes. It is currently sampling the latest Intellon chipset, which uses the HomePlug and IEEE 1901 standards.

For more:
- see this Rethink Wireless article

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