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HOMERF

Two major factors are presenting a real opportunity for data networking within the home. The first is the explosive growth and usage of the Internet. The Internet has clearly revolutionized the delivery of information and entertainment to the home. The second factor is the emergence of sub-$1000 powerful home PCs. With these low-cost devices, the barrier to getting on the Internet and discovering the utility of the PC is low enough to reach the vast majority of middle-income households. However, consumers soon find that the PC/Internet combination, though very compelling, lacks some key attributes in terms of mobility and convenience of location compared with many of their traditional information and entertainment options—newspapers, maga zines, television, videos, FM radio, DVD/CD/stereo, etc. The powerful home PCs (and the printers and peripherals attached to them) often end up turned off 20 to 22 hours per day, tucked into a bedroom or den corner where access is possible only within a two to three foot "bubble." The major opportunity for networking in the home is thus to extend the reach of the PC and Internet throughout the home and yard, and connect the resources of the PC and Internet with legacy home applications such as telephony, audio entertainment, and home control systems. Another opportunity is the sharing of resources (such as an Internet gateway or high quality printer) among PCs in multi-PC homes. With these issues in mind, several major stakeholders in the PC industry formed the Home RF Working Group[4] in early 1997. The key goal of the group is to enable interoperable wireless voice and data networking within the home at consumer price points. The group began by pooling market research from the member companies to produce a Market Requirements Document. This document guided the technical proposals within the group. With tremendous cooperation from major stakeholders in the RF communications industry, and the nascent wireless local area network (WLAN) community, the Shared Wireless Access Protocol-Cordless Access (or "SWAP-CA") was created. In designing SWAP-CA, the HomeRF Technical Committee chose to reuse proven RF networking technology for data and voice communications and added simplifications where appropriate for home usage. With this approach, SWAP-CA inherited native support for Internet access via TCP/IP networking, and for voice telephony via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and Voice over IP. Additionally, because of this design approach, the HomeRF Working Group made rapid progress in finalizing the specification and bringing it to market in a timely manner. Table 8.1 contains the results of the research carried out by the HomeRF marketing subcommittee on user expectations for a home networking wireless technology. These expectations were used as a guide by the HomeRF Technical Team, which then made design decisions to best fulfill the needs of the potential users.

[4] The HomeRF section copyright (c) 2000 IEEE. Reprinted with permission. Adapted from "HomeRF: Wireless Networking for the Connected Home," by K. J. Negus, A. P. Stephens, and J. Lansford. IEEE Personal Communications, Volume 7, Issue 1, February 2000, pp. 20-27.

Three subcommittees exist within the HomeRF Working Group. The HRFWG-Japan subcommittee was created to assist in defining SWAP and ensuring that it complies with local regulations. The group has also formed committees to plan future versions of SWAP that address wireless multimedia and a lower-cost alternative. In addition to ratifying the standard, 13 companies have also committed to building products based on SWAP. Products that adhere to the SWAP standard will carry voice and data traffic between various portable appliances within the home without using a wiring system. Additionally, these products will interoperate with the public telephone network and the Internet. The remaining parts of this section on HomeRF describe the vision, design, and implementation of the HomeRF standard.


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