The lack of interoperability in powerline networking products used in homes is dramatically slowing down potential growth, industry leaders said during a panel discussion at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday.
"If we had interoperability, the market would be a lot larger than it is," said Kartik Gada, product manager for Netgear. Even though Netgear has a dominant position at least on the retail end of powerline networking, the company would prefer if all powerline networking products interoperated, he said. "We'd rather have 30 percent of a larger pie than 90 percent of a smaller one," he said.
Powerline networking allows users to plug adapters into regular power outlets in order to send data and video over existing power lines.
Around 7 million powerline chips that comply with one of the standards, HomePlug, have shipped, estimates Andy Melder, senior vice president of sales, marketing and business development for Intellon, a powerline chip maker. "That's a trickle compared to Wi-Fi," he noted.
Wi-Fi also initially had multiple groups vying to create a standard but the current implementation quickly won out. "Wi-Fi didn't take off until there was awareness and it became a standard capability in laptops," said Mark Nietubye, global marketing director for Siemens Home and Office Communications Devices, a subsidiary of Siemens. Universal Powerline Association (UPA) is another powerline specification that isn't compatible with HomePlug.