Portland, Ore. – HomePlug has been a popular protocol  for in-home networking over powerlines for several years. Now, it’s close to receiving the official blessing of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the standards body that governs Wi-Fi, WiMAX and other communications standards.

The IEEE P1901 Working Group passed the initial sponsor ballot, paving the way for a global standard for powerline (PLC) networking. The ballot passed with more than 80 percent affirmative votes, demonstrating overwhelming industry support. Final ratification of the standard is expected in the third quarter of 2010. The advancement of powerline technology to an internationally recognized IEEE standard will provide manufacturers and end users with the assurance of product interoperability, driving broader adoption of PLC for home networking.

“The broad market acceptance of networking technologies such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth is in great part due to the IEEE worldwide standards that help define product interoperability and performance thresholds for them,” says Rob Ranck, president of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. “Having this IEEE powerline networking standard provides a stable foundation that will help the industry to accelerate mainstream adoption for broadband networking and emerging smart-grid applications.”

HomePlug AV was used as baseline technology for the IEEE 1901 powerline networking standard – which means that products compliant to 1901 will be interoperable with millions of HomePlug AV products in the market today. The HomePlug Powerline Alliance will serve as the certification body for IEEE 1901 devices in a similar way as the Wi-Fi Alliance certifies IEEE 802.11 wireless networking devices.

Due to the maturity of the draft standard, the IEEE is already offering the specification for purchase through its online store, enabling members to develop smart-grid applications as well as next-generation broadband solutions that comply with P1901. The HomePlug Alliance is also finalizing the new HomePlug “Green PHY” (GP) specification as a certification profile of IEEE 1901, which will provide a low-power smart-energy/smart-grid standard. HomePlug GP will enable the industry’s only powerline solutions to meet the IP networking requirements of utility companies and appliance manufacturers.