Atheros Hybrid system merges WiFi with powerline networking in one tidy bundle

Tim Stevens
T. Stevens|10.22.10

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Atheros Hybrid system merges WiFi with powerline networking in one tidy bundle
Network routers are increasingly becoming our portals to the world, and the latest model from Atheros, the Hybrid Router, is making that doorway wider than ever. Naturally it supports 802.11 WiFi and Ethernet, just like any good bit of networking kit, but it also adds in HomePlug AV powerline networking. By just plugging the thing's AC adapter into the wall you're extending your network signal throughout your abode and, by plugging in one of the company's Ethernet or WiFi adapters, you can extend your access to places that even microwaves fear to tread. Atheros hasn't announced pricing for the Hybrid Router or either the wired or wireless powerline range extenders, but all are said to be shipping before the end of the year, so we'll all be finding out soon enough.

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Atheros Launches World's First Hybrid Home Network Solutions that Deliver the Best of Wired and Wireless Networks

Combination of Wi-Fi, HomePlug AV and Ethernet Boosts Network Bandwidth and Coverage, Provides Unprecedented Simplicity and Flexibility

SAN JOSE, Calif. – October 18, 2010 - Atheros Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHR), a global leader in innovative technologies for wireless and wired communications, today announced a new family of hybrid home networking solutions that combines the industry's most popular consumer networking technologies. Atheros' unique combination of Wi-Fi®, HomePlug® AV powerline and Ethernet technologies not only boosts network bandwidth, but also provides unprecedented simplicity to setup and optimize coverage in every home environment. As a result, consumers will finally have an elegant solution for whole-home network coverage.

Atheros' hybrid portfolio is an unprecedented approach to solving the home networking issues faced by many consumers – including complicated installation, spotty coverage and inadequate bandwidth for media applications. By leveraging the strengths of multiple networking technologies and adding software intelligence, Atheros is enabling a new class of hybrid networking products that allow consumers to easily build a home network with the performance they need, where they need it.

Key Facts:

According to ABI Research, the number of home networks will grow 65 percent globally to nearly 280 million in the next five years. With the influx of Internet-based media and growing demand for whole-home digital content, it is even more important that home networking equipment offers better performance and simple installation – at a reasonable cost.

Now that the IEEE has ratified the 1901 powerline standard, based upon HomePlug AV technology, Atheros' hybrid solutions combine the benefits of the most popular global networking standards: IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi), IEEE 1901 (HomePlug AV) and IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet). The combination of these technologies ensures that networked devices can connect anywhere in the home – whether using wired or wireless connectivity.

Atheros is launching four new reference designs, including a router and three adapters that use various combinations of its XSPAN® wireless LAN, AMP™ powerline and ETHOS® Ethernet technologies. The designs provide networking manufacturers with complete hardware and software solutions for a variety of affordable hybrid products, which consumers can easily mix-and-match to suit the unique characteristics of their home and the bandwidth requirements of their network applications.

Atheros' hybrid solutions include software that adds "behind the scenes" intelligence to simplify network setup and management for mainstream consumers. It not only unifies the wired and wireless networks with a single user interface, but also enables push-button pairing and security between the router and all Atheros-based adapters on the network (whether installed now or added in the future).

The combination of Wi-Fi and powerline also provides a platform that will support future home area networking and smart energy applications. Both standards are expected to play integral roles in connecting homes to the smart grid, and will work seamlessly with smart grid products that use low-power Wi-Fi and HomePlug GreenPHY-enabled devices

Product Highlights:

Atheros' new reference designs are the industry's first solutions to feature Wi-Fi, HomePlug AV and Ethernet silicon from a single vendor, and are optimized to deliver the best possible wired and wireless experience. The new family of designs includes:

Hybrid Router Reference Design– Designed to be the hub of the digital home, routers based on Atheros' first hybrid solution can unleash more than 500 Mbps of network capacity to wired and wireless devices – which can deliver reliable access to the Internet and networked media content throughout the home.

Powerline/Ethernet Adapter Reference Designs – Available in single-port and four-port versions, Atheros' PLC adapters are ideal for connecting the home's media center, with broadband access for up to four non-wireless devices (such as televisions, Blu-ray disc players, set-top boxes and storage devices). The plug-and-play adapters offer effortless setup and use the home's existing electrical circuitry to transmit data at up to 200 Mbps
Wi-Fi/Powerline Range Extender Reference Design – By simply plugging the range extender into an electrical outlet, consumers can extend their wireless network to reach mobile Wi-Fi products in the far corners and other trouble-spots in the home. Like the PLC adapters, range extenders can also connect non-wireless devices that have an Ethernet port.

All of Atheros' hybrid reference designs will be available in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company is currently working with its lead customers, who expect to bring retail products to market over the next two quarters.

Supporting Quotes:

Dan Rabinovitsj, vice president and general manager of Atheros' Networking Business Unit

"Rather than trying to solve every home networking problem with one technology, Atheros is drawing upon its broad expertise and industry-leading portfolio to deliver solutions that combine the strengths of Wi-Fi, HomePlug AV and Ethernet. Improving the consumer network is the first step, but the benefits of hybrid networking will soon enhance the ability of service providers to deliver next-generation services to the digital home."

Craig Mathias, a principal with Farpoint Group, a wireless and mobile advisory firm

"Consumers are less concerned about technology than they are about getting up and running quickly with a home network that just works. By combining the best of what wired and wireless technologies have to offer, Atheros' hybrid approach has the potential to deliver true 'plug-and-play' home networking products that provide the reliable connectivity that consumers need everywhere in the home."

Related Links:

To download hybrid product photos:

To download hybrid home network graphic:

For information about the new IEEE 1901 powerline standard:

To download Atheros' logo:

About Atheros Communications, Inc.

Atheros Communications is a global leader in innovative technologies for wireless and wired communications. Atheros combines its wireless and networking systems expertise with high-performance radio frequency (RF), mixed signal and digital semiconductor design skills to provide highly integrated chipsets that are manufactured on low-cost, standard complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processes. Atheros technology is used by a broad base of leading customers, including networking equipment, personal computer and consumer device manufacturers. For more information, please visit
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