Domestic network

Swindon-based SiConnect claims to have made a breakthrough in communication technology by overcoming the technical challenges presented by the use of existing domestic electrical wiring for the transport of audio, video, voice and data in the home.

The company claims competing approaches such as Ethernet-like technologies that rely on an asynchronous Carrier Sense Multiple Access / Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) protocol cannot provide the consistent quality of service that’s essential for a good consumer experience.

But, it said, that’s not the case with its new POEM technology.

That’s because the POEM technology uses a Synchronous Multiple Access / Contention Resolution (SMA/CR) network protocol and an inbuilt Quality of Service (QoS) management structure that delivers 16 different service levels for prioritising traffic, including audio, video, VoIP and IP data streams.

This combination guarantees that a fair and prioritised distribution of bandwidth between services is always achieved, and crucially, 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 surround sound home theatre systems.

By using a peer-to-peer meshed network topology, SiConnect’s POEM technology is able to embrace all available power sockets in the home to achieve whole home coverage. Each node can act as a repeater, which not only maximises coverage but also optimises throughput.

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 optimise throughput. New nodes are automatically authorised and up to 255 networks, each with 255 nodes, can be supported.

Designed to operate within global EMC regulations, POEM technology complies with Europe‘s EN55022 regulation for conducted emissions and EN55024 regulation for immunity to interference. It 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.

POEM technology includes a detect and avoid scheme that moves carrier signals to avoid interference with any amateur radio band in local use. This has long been demanded by the amateur radio and broadcast community as the only effective way of ensuring local radio users are not disturbed by powerline carriers.

The inherent ability of a POEM technology enabled network to continuously self-configure, combined with the fact that it has no dependency on a network PC or central controller, means user installation will be plug and play. As a result, the need for service providers to provide technical support and to incur costly home visits is eliminated.

POEM technology includes 128 bit encryption to provide privacy and security features that ensure broadcast and personal multimedia data remain protected. The ability of POEM technology to create island networks across the same powerline, separates neighbouring networks and applications with different real time requirements.

Because SiConnect’s POEM technology is designed specifically for in-home communications, it will achieve a chip price of $5 per node — less than half the cost of any competitive solution. The company is set to launch its first power line transceiver during the third quarter of 2006.

SiConnect CEO, Trevor Sokell commented, “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.”