HomeGrid won't be built in a day

The recently announced HomeGrid Forum represents an important step in the evolution of home networks. The companies backing the forum, including Intel, Texas Instruments, Infineon, Pulse-Link and others, have rightly understood that the International Telecommunications Union's effort to create a unified home network standard called G.hn is only half the battle. That standard is likely to be ready late this year or sometime next year, and even if a multitude of service providers and vendors come out and pat the ITU on the back for doing a good job, they won't switch to G.hn support overnight.

The HomeGrid Forum is looking to fight the other half of the battle, which involves forging industry agreements for common implementation practices, and then testing and certifying G.hn equipment for mass deployment. It is the same role the Wi-Fi Alliance and the WiMAX Forum have played in their respective sectors, and as those two groups probably can attest, the other half of the battle can sometimes literally be a battle. Some vendors are likely to start jumping out ahead of the standardization effort claiming they have "pre-G.hn" gear. Others may find reason to dispute the HomeGrid Forum's intentions, timing or efficiency. Some may dispute its membership, and spout theories about how it might be a tool of market dominance in which the largest members can force their worldview on the smallest ones.

Ultimately, groups like the HomeGrid Forum can smooth the path to market for a new technology, but they also need to make sure they do not slow down implementation in the process. Additionally, there are plenty of home networking companies that are not involved in the HomeGrid Forum yet. It is still early, but this new alliance must recruit as many companies involved in the home network ecosystem as possible if it wants the industry to listen. The forum also reportedly has the backing of several carriers, though these carriers have not much advertised the fact, so the group needs to strengthen those bonds.

Finally, while HomeGrid and G.hn embrace MoCA, HomePNA and HomePlug, it is unclear where wireless fits in, if at all. Some companies question the ability of wireless to support future in-home video-related bandwidth demands, but the fact remains that WiFi is still the dominant home networking technology.

HomeGrid has the right idea. Now, it needs to get to work.

-Dan

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