Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.
In the decade that WiFi has blanketed home networks across the United States, several technologies aimed at using existing wiring in the home have met with limited success. These have included MoCA
(Multimedia over Coax, which has been adopted by some service providers for implementing multi-room DVRs) and HomePNA (originally for phone lines but later expanded to coax cable as well). At least three dueling standards have also sought to bring high-speed connectivity over electrical wiring. HomePlug
, the most successful of these, has had several iterations. The latest – HomePlug AV – is rated at a theoretical throughput of 200 Mbits/sec. However, power line technologies have been held back by high prices and occasional interoperability problems.
But a new approach seeks to be the one protocol to rule them all, operating over phone lines, power lines or coax. Dubbed G.hn
, the ITU standard promises up to 1Gbps theoretical throughput, with real-world usage over electrical lines expected to reach between 250Mbps and 400Mbps. If that sounds appealing to you, you're not alone. Service providers like the idea of G.hn since it allows them more flexibility than previous efforts. In fact, they like it so much that -- despite G.hn's capacity -- they have insisted on quality of service standards that could limit or prevent consumers from installing it themselves after they buy adapters from retailers.