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Looking back, 2006 has clearly been an exciting and eventful year for the HomePlug® Powerline Alliance, for the continued market acceptance of HomePlug technologies and for member companies that are developing and debuting new HomePlug-enabled products. At the same time, looking ahead to 2007 promises even more progress and exciting developments.
Throughout the past year, the momentum and influence of the HomePlug Alliance has continued to expand, fueled by dramatic growth in membership, active participation by a number of global leaders in the consumer electronics industry, favorable regulatory rulings and the ongoing proliferation of strong technical solutions at all levels throughout the HomePlug networking ecosystem.
During 2006, the number of member companies has nearly doubled, from 43 to 77 members, and shows no signs of abating as we move into 2007. In addition, the depth and global clout of corporate leadership in the alliance has been expanded with the addition of LG Electronics, TCL and Texas Instruments (TI) to the HomePlug Implementer's Forum Board of Directors. The HomePlug Powerline Alliance now features the top three global television suppliers in LG, Samsung and TCL on its board of directors, along with global leaders in semiconductors, communications systems and service providers.
The alliance has continued to leverage key opportunities around the world for educational and promotional outreach activities, aimed at helping potential implementers understand the benefits of HomePlug Powerline networking and connecting companies with the technological resources for driving innovation and new product development. Some prime examples include high-profile efforts at the Intel Developer's Forum (IDF) in San Francisco in September, the Japan User's Forum in early November and the HomePlug European Executive Seminar in Berlin, Germany on November 14, 2006.
As discussed in more detail below, the FCC's favorable ruling on classifying BPL as an "information service" opens the door for HomePlug Powerline networking to further expand market penetration within the United States and to build on the installed base of six million products already in use worldwide.
Keeping up the rapid pace set in 2006, we are also moving into 2007 with a big splash. The HomePlug Powerline Alliance and many individual member companies will be demonstrating and/or debuting exciting new HomePlug AV and BPL products and technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV, January 8-11, 2007.
With a high level of sustained momentum and another year of rapid growth just ahead, we need to remember that the lifeblood any industry organization such as the HomePlug Alliance lies in the breadth, commitment and active participation of its members. As we look ahead to 2007, I want to invite all companies with an interest in this technology to join the HomePlug Interest Group and simultaneously to urge all members to become more involved with the alliance's technology development, educational and outreach activities. Ultimately, our continued success will depend on you.
"In the Spotlight": Favorable FCC Ruling
Federal Communications Commission Classifies Broadband over Powerline (BPL) as an Information Service - - Putting BPL on an equal footing with DSL and Cable.
In October, the Federal Communications Commission announced its decision to classify Broadband over Power Line (BPL) as an information service, putting it in the same class as DSL and cable. The FCC's ruling has cleared the way for power companies to roll out broadband over power line service by approving a set of rules designed to limit interference to other radio frequency devices.
By classifying BPL as an information service, the FCC hopes utility companies that have been hesitant to adopt BPL because of regulatory concerns will now begin offering the service. According to the FCC announcement, "In reaching these determinations, the Commission provides regulatory certainty regarding the classification of this service, thereby encouraging deployment of BPL-enabled Internet access to consumers."
FCC commissioners praised BPL as a broadband competitor that will help bring prices down and spur new services. The official statement by FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin said, "we build upon our previous efforts to facilitate deployment of broadband over power line (BPL) systems while protecting existing spectrum users from harmful interference. It is my hope that our rules will allow BPL systems to flourish. This technology holds great promise as a ubiquitous broadband solution that would offer a viable alternative to cable, digital subscriber line, fiber, and wireless broadband solutions. Moreover, BPL has unique advantages for home networking because consumers can simply plug a device into their existing electrical outlets to achieve broadband connectivity. Promoting the deployment of broadband continues to be one of our top priorities and today’s action is another step towards reaching that goal."
In other public comments subsequent to the ruling, Chairman Martin said BPL holds "great promise for consumers," because "BPL provides a means of offering broadband even to remote and rural areas," and it "can easily be used for home networking without the need for new wiring." In a Washington Post editorial on November 8, 2006, FCC Commissioner Copps also described BPL as part of the FCC's overall broadband strategy to "do a better job of encouraging 'third pipe' technologies."
The FCC's ruling opens the door for new widespread deployment of BPL technologies while dovetailing perfectly with the rich and expanding ecosystem of HomePlug-certified powerline solutions at all levels - from semiconductor to system to service solutions. In addition, the extensive work done by the alliance on developing interoperable specifications (HomePlug 1.0, HomePlug AV, HomePlug Access BPL and HomePlug Command & Control) will provide the foundation for complying with the FCC ruling while seamlessly integrating powerline communications both to the home and within the home.
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