SiConnect unveils BPL platform

June 14, 2006 -- The company says that, by using a peer-to-peer meshed network topology, its POEM technology is able to "embrace" all available power sockets in a residence to achieve "whole home" coverage.

SiConnect (Swindon, UK) has introduced its POEM technology, a Broadband over Powerline (BPL) communications platform which the company says addresses the technical and cost challenges presented by the use of existing domestic electrical wiring for the transport of audio, video, voice, and data in residences.

"The variety of broadband IP based services available to the home user is increasing dramatically, as is the need to distribute real time audio and video signals between consumer electronic devices within the home. A reliable transport medium throughout the home is essential," comments Trevor Sokell, SiConnect's CEO. "New Ethernet cabling or wireless networks in the home are not an ideal choice. POEM technology will enable powerline communication networks to be created that provide dependable whole home coverage with the capacity to support the in-home connectivity requirements of the future."

According to the company, developed to provide reliable coverage throughout a residence for a range of emerging in-home audio/video applications (including the distribution of triple play services), the POEM technology delivers managed QoS, "plug-and-play" capabilities, privacy protection, full compliance with global EMC regulations, and "a $5 chip price."

The company contends that "Ethernet-like" technologies that rely on the asynchronous Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) protocol fail to provide consistent QoS for consumer applications. In contrast, the company says that its POEM technology employs the Synchronous Multiple Access / Contention Resolution (SMA/CR) protocol and an inbuilt QoS management structure that delivers 16 different service levels for prioritizing traffic, including audio, video, VoIP, and IP data streams.

The company says this combination of functionality ensures that a "fair and prioritized" distribution of bandwidth between services is achieved, and that latency and jitter are controlled - a significant concern in applications dependent upon continuous real time delivery of MPEG video and uncompressed audio, such as IPTV and advanced audio applications, notes the company.

The company says that, by using a peer-to-peer meshed network topology, the POEM technology is able to embrace all available power sockets in a home to achieve "whole home" coverage. Each node in the system can act as a repeater; the connection quality of each link is always known to every POEM-enabled node on the network and as a result, the best path is always used to optimize throughput, says the company. New nodes are automatically authorized; up to 255 networks, each with 255 nodes, are supported. The POEM technology also incorporates a "detect and avoid" scheme that moves carrier signals to avoid interference with amateur radio bands in local use. The technology also includes 128-bit encryption for security.

Designed to operate within global EMC regulations, the POEM technology complies with Europe's EN55022 regulation for conducted emissions and EN55024 regulation for immunity to interference. The technology also meets the requirement of the USA's FCC part 15 regulations for radiated emissions and CISPR 22 and CISPR 24 regulations in the rest of the world. According to the company, because of the inherent ability of a POEM-enabled network to continuously self-configure, and because such networks have no dependency on a networked PC or central controller, user installation of the technology is essentially "plug-and-play," eliminating a need for service providers to provide on-site technical support.

Because the POEM technology is designed specifically for in-home communications, it's expected to achieve a chip price of $5 per node, less than half the price of competitive platform, contends the company. The company expects to launch its first power line transceiver during the third quarter of 2006.

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