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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Watch out! Fully networked homes coming


Technology enthusiasts may be in for another resounding innovation as the global standard bearers in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), weekend announced a breakthrough that could offer an in-home, high-speed network capable of delivering room-to-room High Definition Television (HDTV) streams.

HDTV is reputed as a method of digital broadcasting that results in high-quality pictures and Dolby Digital surround sound, using the same amount of bandwidth, that is, about Six Mega Hertz (Mhz) as used in the analogue system, but HDTV could transmit more than six times the information as the analogue system, which translates to higher quality in picture and sound.

Currently, experts said that mere television pictures are made up of 525 horizontally scanned lines, whereas HDTV pictures are created by scanning 1,080 lines, which entails that twice the amount of lines multiply the amount of pixels; the small dots that create the picture.

Equally, current Tv sets have about 300,000 pixels, while the HDTV screen is composed of more than 2 million pixels. This, experts said, that having more pixels on your screen will also improve the sharpness of the pictures, hence allowing you to read on your television screen small text commonly found on computers.

Additionally, HDTV sets have wider, movie-theater like screens that more closely resemble human peripheral vision, which makes it more natural to watch.

This development came as the umbrella body of worldwide mobile operators, the Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA), has heightened its campaign to secure Digital Dividend spectrum to harmonized bands for mobile use, which is expected to be freed up through the switchover from analogue to digital TV advocacy.

However, ITU said at the weekend that the first global standard to offer in-home, high-speed network with capability of delivering room-to-room HDTV has been agreed upon by its member states.

The Chief, Media Relations and Public Information at ITU, Mr. Sanjay Acharya and Communications Officer, Telecommunication Standardization Sector, Study Group 15, (ITU-T), Mr. Toby Johnson, said in a press statement made available to Champion Infotel that the standard, published under the G.hn banner, promises high quality multimedia over power, coaxial, phone and other home network wiring. It will give up to 20 times the throughput of existing wireless technologies and three times that of existing wired technologies.

G.hn is the common name for the ‘next generation’ triple-wire home network technology standard being developed under the ITU, with the first recommendation for G.hn known as G.9960 receiving official consent on Friday, December 12, 2008.

Over 20 companies are participating regularly in a broad cross section of the communications industry including some of the world’s largest telephone companies, major communication equipment companies and some of the leading home networking technology companies.

ITU also said, the specifications would be used by chip manufacturers to build transceivers that could be incorporated into set-top boxes, residential gateways, home computers, home audio systems, Digital Video Display (DVD) players, TVs or any other device that might be connected to a network now or in the future.

Experts see this development as a door opener for silicon companies, anticipated to immediately commence the incorporation of the specifications into transceivers, which implies that G.hn-compliant products could be on the market as early as 2010.

Principal Analyst at market research firm In-Stat, Ms Joyce Putscher, was quoted in a press statement as saying that service operators have been looking for an international standard that encompasses multiple existing-wire mediums for video distribution.

“G.hn meets that requirement and it seems clear that with significant industry backing from service providers, semiconductor and equipment vendors, and the fast rate at which the process is moving to achieve a standard, we will see first equipment by 2010,” she said.

Director, ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, Mr. Malcolm Johnson, said there is a clear market need for a unified networking approach and with G.hn, every wire in every home around the world could become part of a home entertainment network.

“This will enable seamless communication between computers, HDTVs and telephones over existing wires. I expect that this exciting new technology will also foster innovations such as energy efficient smart appliances, home automation and telemedicine devices,” he said.

Champion Infotel gathered that work on G.hn was started at the instigation of service providers looking to extend broadband and video services in the home. As well as the urge to offer greater speed in bundling complementary Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) where G.hn offers greater coverage, extending, for example, to areas of a house where Wi-Fi does not reach.

Meanwhile, GSMA is advocating vigorously for the Digital Dividend spectrum that will be freed up by the switchover from analogue to digital TV represents a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for a significant reallocation of spectrum.

This, GSMA said, has the potential to bring affordable mobile broadband services and Internet connectivity to people all over the world.

“The mobile industry is lobbying hard for national regulatory authorities to reassign Digital Dividend spectrum for mobile use,” according to e-newsletter by GSMA.

Noteworthy is that at the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC) in Geneva in 2007, the re-allocation of Digital Dividend spectrum was a key item on the agenda. After considerable debate, the 790-862 Mega Hertz (MHz) band was identified by WRC for mobile use in ITU Region 1 (Europe).

This band will allow mobile operators to provide a cost-effective, continuous, seamless broadband experience, allowing for improved rural coverage and better quality coverage in urban areas.

However, the WRC identification is a recommendation only and each national regulatory authority is now considering whether to implement the recommendation in its own market.

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