HomePNA

HomePNA is an industry standard for interconnecting computers within a home using existing telephone lines and registered jack.

HomePNA is an industry standard for interconnecting computers within a home using existing telephone lines and registered jack. Using HomePNA, multiple computer users in a home can share a single Internet connection, open or copy files from different computers, share printers, and play multi-user computer games. The latest version, HomePNA 2.0, allows data transmission at a rate of 10 Mbps over a standard telephone line's home wiring system using the Ethernet CSMA/CD framing and transmission protocol. HomePNA can be used without interrupting normal voice or fax services. One user can talk on the phone at the same time other users are sharing the same line to access the Web or share other computer resources. A Quality of Service (QoS) feature assigns higher-level priorities to applications that are latency-sensitive like packetized voice and streaming audio and video. The home network standard is sponsored by members of the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HPNA).

The shared phone line approach is one of several home network approaches. Others include the regular Ethernet local area network, the powerline protocol, or the Bluetooth standard. Ethernet is a widely-used standard for a local area network (LAN) that ordinarily requires each computer to be equipped with an interface card, connected to a hub, and sometimes the use of thicker cabling. (HomePNA uses the Ethernet line protocol with existing phone cabling.) Powerline is a slower data transmission method that uses the home's electrical wiring. Bluetooth uses wireless technology to transmit data between devices within a 30-foot range. In addition to HomePNA, there are other proprietary approaches to home networks using existing phone lines.

A number of companies are making HomePNA products, such as the Diamond HomeFree Phoneline 10Mbps, D-Link DHN-910 10Mb Home Phoneline Network in a Box, and the Intel AnyPoint Phoneline Home Network. HomePNA products typically cost the consumer under $100 and require no new wiring. The Home Phoneline Networking Alliance is a consortium with over 150 members, including 3Com, AT&T Wireless, IBM, Intel, Compaq, Lucent Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard.

This was first published in September 2005

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