On Wednesday afternoon at WinHEC, I spoke with Andy Melder of Intellon about the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. The alliance, similar to the Wi-Fi Alliance, is made up of more than 75 companies supporting home AC powerline communication as an alternative to traditional wired and wireless environments. “The powerline movement has been around for a while, but it lost momentum to sexier, trendier wireless networks. A lot of people actually dismissed powerline connectivity early on. But now we’re gaining notoriety again,” said Melder.

Intellon provides HomePlug-compatible integrated circuits (ICs) for home networking, networked entertainment, and broadband over powerline (BPL) applications. The next day, at WinHEC, I got to participate in a demonstration of a HomePlug-enabled home entertainment ecosystem, featuring two Xbox 360s, an HP LCD TV, and a Sharp Aquos LCD TV, all interconnected using Intellon’s INT6000 HomePlug AV-based ICs, integrated directly into the power supply of each product. With this embedded topology, the power cord for each product carried both electrical power and broadband connectivity. No other cables or wires were necessary to stream HD video content from the Windows Vista-based PC or Xbox 360s to either or both HC displays.

“Intellon is committed to taking the mystery out of home connectivity,” Melder said. “HomePlug AV is already remarkably easy for consumers to set up and use.”

Intellon continues to work on its technology, trying to achieve even faster speeds and doing its best to mitigate such low-key concerns as noise disruptions and the drawbacks of odd environments. UPS devices can tend to dilute the strength of the signal, leading to another area for improvement. Intellon is working with UPS manufacturers to develop HomePlug-friendly devices. "The company is committed to providing the best performance possible," said Melder.

“Whole home coverage, security, and a seamless content experience have combined to circle make Homeplug the next best approach beyond wired Ethernet. I mean, how simple is it to plug something into the wall?” Melder said, laughing. “The powerline essentially acts like a long Ethernet cable to your router.”

Want to check out powerline connectivity? Visit Intellon’s Web site.