The HomePlug Powerline Alliance, the leading industry group promoting adoption of powerline home networking products, recently announced that it has enhanced the HomePlug AV certification program to include products based on the recently ratified IEEE 1901 powerline standard. Finalization of this global standard is a major milestone for powerline networking and will help unify and stabilize the industry as did previous IEEE standards for networking (IEEE 802.11 for wireless LAN and IEEE 802.3 for Ethernet).

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance operates the world’s premier powerline compliance and interoperability certification program and has certified over 215 HomePlug products to date. Under the enhanced testing program, HomePlug member companies can submit products for certification to the newly finalized standard. HomePlug AV testing is currently conducted at the facilities of Laboratoire des Applications Numériques (LAN) in France.

The IEEE-SA Standards Board approved IEEE 1901 on September 30. IEEE 1901 incorporates the HomePlug AV Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical (PHY) layers as a baseline.

“The 1901 standard is designed to accommodate a wide range of major applications for powerline communications (PLC), including in-home broadband networks for data, audio, and video distribution; Smart Energy and Smart Grid; and plug-in electrical vehicles. IEEE is pleased to see the new standard supported by a HomePlug certification program for compliance and interoperability,” says Jean-Philippe Faure, chair of the IEEE 1901 working group.

“The IEEE is well known as the foremost standards body for networking, and HomePlug has a mature and well-developed testing plan for HomePlug AV,” says Rob Ranck, president of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. “We believe that developing a compliance and interoperability plan to certify our members’ products to a ratified, global powerline standard from the IEEE not only maintains continuity with the large base of HomePlug AV products but will also increase the momentum of HomePlug-based product deployments. Furthermore, this assures retail and service providers that the baseline technology is stable and also encourages the development of new products and services necessary to meet the rapidly growing needs of the connected home. In summary, IEEE 1901 is yet more validation of the market proven HomePlug AV.”

IEEE 1901 is fully interoperable with the HomePlug AV broadband specification, the new HomePlug “Green PHY” (GP) specification for smart energy/smart grid applications, and the forthcoming HomePlug AV2 broadband specification due for completion in Q1 2011. HomePlug’s family of interoperable technology specifications covers the spectrum of home networking demands and offers a migration path to the future while protecting the installed base of over 60 million HomePlug devices, the vast majority of installed powerline products.

Additional details on the IEEE 1901 standard are available at http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/1901/. Specifications will be available from the IEEE stores for purchase by mid-January.