Frederic Onado is Chief Operating Officer of SPiDCOM Technologies, and he is also in charge of Business Development.

Frederic holds leadership roles in the PLC industry. He is Vice President EMEA of HomePlug Powerline Alliance, and chairs the HomePlug European Working Group. He has also been Chairman of the PLC Forum.

SPiDCOM Technologies is a fabless semiconductor company. It specializes in integrated circuits and Linux-based software bundles for Multimedia Home Networking, EoC (Ethernet over Coax), BPL Access, Smart Grid and other any wire based applications (powerline, coax, phoneline). SPiDCOM provides both proprietary & HomePlug AV standard based open solutions to its partners for “no-limits” product developments.
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First of all, could you please give us a quick update on SPiDCOM ?

SPiDCOM is a semiconductor company. We specialize in the design of Powerline Communication SoC (System on Chips), and the Linux software running on it. We have two ranges of solutions:

– First is called SPC200. This SoC is mass produced today and is mainly used for EoC (Ethernet over Coax) applications over existing CATV networks.
– Second is called SPC300. We presented it during 2009 CeBIT show in Hanover, Germany. This SoC is compatible with the HomePlug AV standard.

And what about HomePlug AV? Can you bring us up to date on this technology and it’s product cycle?
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To start, let me introduce HomePlug Powerline Alliance in a few words. HomePlug is the leading powerline communication industry group. Its main goal is to unify the industry by defining specifications and backing them inside standardization bodies. Among these specifications is the HomePlug AV technology, designed for whole-home triple-play over existing electrical wires. First products have appeared on the market place at the end of 2007, and the sales are growing very fast with over 27 million HomePlug devices sold to date (roughly, HomePlug market doubles every year). One of the actual biggest success of HomePlug AV technology is cable replacement between IPTV gateway and IPTV set-top box by major European service providers.

You become the first HomePlug AV second source. What will be the consequences for the PLC industry ?

The launch of our SPC300 is a true milestone for the powerline communication industry. Indeed, HomePlug AV technology officially becomes multi-vendor, which has been a constant claim from the industry.

Up to now, many companies have delayed their deployments or postponed their entry in the market place because no PLC solution was multi-source, which was a real issue.

SPiDCOM SPC300 SoC changes this situation ; as a consequence it confirms and accentuates the dominance of the HomePlug AV standard.

You say that the SPC300 is a “no-limits” HomePlug AV SoC. What do you mean ?

HomePlug AV technology is a proven high-performance technology. However, up to know, product differentiation was difficult as product manufacturers were all buying chips from an unique provider with a bounded list of features. Any innovative design, that does have more features than a basic adaptor, may require for example an external CPU.

SPiDCOM SPC300 SoC smashes these limits. We provide a dual-core architecture with a CPU dedicated to customer applications, its Linux-based source codes and the tools needed to recompile a unique image.

As a consequence, SPiDCOM partners will be free to make innovative designs that are less complex, at a lower-cost as no extra processor is needed, while taking advantage of the gigabit Ethernet port for no interface limits. This will enable added-value product differentiation, instead of a mere cost-based differentiation.

Will the SPC300 be compatible with IEEE P1901 standard?

First, let me remind what this standard is for those who may not be aware of it.

Since 2005, the major Powerline Communication industry players work inside the P1901 work group of IEEE to define the standard that had been required for such a long time. Several competitive technical proposals have been presented, and the winner was the proposal based on HomePlug AV technology.

The HomePlug AV technology being a key component of the confirmed baseline, SPiDCOM’s SPC300 SoC will interoperate with coming P1901 silicon.

What kind of products will we see in the near future that take advantage of SPiDCOM’s HomePlug AV solution?

The SPC300 dual-core architecture and the Linux based firmware enable cost effective product differentiation.

A HomePlug AV to Wi-Fi bridge is a good example, as well as a HomePlug AV router, or a HomePlug AV set-top box, all of this without adding an additional CPU.

And of course, you will see “simple” Ethernet to Powerline bridges, fully interoperable with the existing HomePlug AV products, but with higher flexibility and management capabilities.

When will we start to see products based on the SPC300?

Silicon is available and SPiDCOM is now working with product manufacturers. Devices are planned to be delivered for Christmas 2009.

What will this SPiDCOM’s solution do for the average consumer in the near future?

The benefits of using HomePlug AV technology in general are well-known: triple-play whole home coverage using existing electrical wires, simplicity of use (plug-and-play technology), standard-based technology with numerous interoperable products…

What’s more is that SPiDCOM new solution with foster competition and product innovation, so the end-user will get great new products and the prices will go on to fall.

What’s next for SPiDCOM and HomePlug AV?

Inside HomePlug Powerline Alliance, SPiDCOM will go on contributing to the HomePlug AV II specification: this next generation will enable even better performance, better coverage, while being fully interoperable with HomePlug AV existing products.

Furthermore, the HomePlug Alliance will start to certify the first IEEE P1901 compliant products in 2009.

As you can see, a very exciting year is waiting for us!