HomeRF was a wireless networking specification for home devices. It was developed in 1998 by the Home Radio Frequency Working Group, a consortium of mobile wireless companies that included Proxim Wireless, Intel, Siemens AG, Motorola, Philips and more than 100 other companies.
The group was disbanded in January 2003, after other wireless networks became accessible to home users and Microsoft began including support for them in its Windows operating systems. As a result, HomeRF fell into obsolescence.
Initially called Shared Wireless Access Protocol (SWAP) and later just HomeRF, this open specification allowed PCs, peripherals, cordless phones and other consumer devices to share and communicate voice and data in and around the home without the complication and expense of running new wires. HomeRF combined several wireless technologies in the 2.4 GHz ISM band, including IEEE 802.11 FH (the frequency-hopping version of wireless data networking) and DECT (the most prevalent digital cordless telephony standard in the world) to meet the unique home networking requirements for security, quality of service (QoS) and interference immunity—issues that still plagued Wi-Fi (802.11b and g).
HomeRF used frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) in the 2.4 GHz frequency band and in theory could achieve a maximum of 10 Mbit/s throughput; its nodes could travel within a 50-meter range of a wireless access point while remaining connected to the personal area network (PAN). Several standards and working groups focused on wireless networking technology in radio frequency (RF). Other standards include the popular IEEE 802.11 family, IEEE 802.16, and Bluetooth.
Proxim Wireless was the only supplier of HomeRF chipsets, and since Proxim also made end products, other manufacturers complained that they had to buy components from their competitor. The fact that our group didn't address that conflict led to the eventual downfall of HomeRF, which occurred during an economic recession when companies already struggled to justify duplicate engineering and marketing efforts - for HomeRF, 802.11 and Bluetooth. The fact that HomeRF was developed by a consortium and not an official standards body also put it at a disadvantage against Wi-Fi and its IEEE 802.11 standard.
AT&T joined the group because HomeRF was designed for high-speed broadband services and the need to support PCs, phones, stereos and televisions; but last-mile deployment occurred more slowly than expected and with slower speeds. So it was natural that the home networking market focused more on multi-PC households sharing Internet connections for email and browsing than on integrating phone and entertainment services into a broadband service bundle. As a result, the original promoter companies gradually started pulling out of the group rather than supporting multiple standards. They included IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Microsoft, and lastly Intel. That left only companies like Motorola, National Semiconductor, Proxim, and Siemens. Even Proxim started pulling away when negative media surrounding HomeRF started affecting its core data networking business, and that left Siemens to do the work of integrating voice, data and video. Siemens was willing to go it alone with HomeRF technology but was concerned by growing uncertainties in the cordless phone market, including mobile phone as home phone, VoIP over Wi-Fi, and 5 GHz vs. 2.4 GHz. When Siemens eventually got out of the cordless phone market, it was the final nail in the HomeRF coffin.
HomeRF received some success because of its low cost and ease of installation. By September 2000, some confusion came from the "home" in the name, leading some to associate HomeRF with home networks, using other technologies such as IEEE 802.11b for businesses. A digital media receiver for audio was marketed under the name "Motorola SimpleFi" that used HomeRF. In March 2001, Intel announced they would not support further development of HomeRF technology for its Anypoint line. The group promoting 802.11 technology, the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA) changed their name to the Wi-Fi Alliance in 2002, as the Wi-Fi brand became popular.
The fact that WECA members lobbied the FCC for two years, which was effective in delaying the approval of wideband frequency-hopping, helped 802.11b catch up and gain an insurmountable lead in the market, which was then extended with 802.11g. The use of OFDM in 802.11a and .11g solved many of the RF interference problems of .11b. WPA and 802.11x also improved security over WEP encryption, which was especially important in the corporate world.
- HomePlug - powerline home networking
- HomePNA - phoneline home networking
- ITU-T G.hn, a standard that provides a way to create a high-speed (up to 1 Gbit/s) local area network using existing home wiring (power lines, phone lines and coaxial cables).
- Wireless LAN Interoperability Forum
- Wayne Caswell (November 17, 2010). "HomeRF Archives". Retrieved July 16, 2011.
- Ted Coombs; Roderico Deleon (July 24, 2002). Basic Home Networking. Cengage Learning. pp. 12–14. ISBN 978-0-7668-6180-0.
- Joanie Wexler (September 25, 2000). "HomeRF vs. 802.11b". Network World Wireless in the Enterprise Newsletter. Network World Fusion. Archived from the original on January 20, 2008. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- "Motorola Simplefi review". CNet. August 16, 2002. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- Bill Howard (March 13, 2002). "Simplefi Your Digital Music". PC Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- "The Ripple Effect: How Intel's Choice to Support 802.11b is Affecting the Home Networking Market". Home Networks Newsletter. Vol. 3, no. 4. April 2001. pp. 9–10.
- Eric Griffith (July 17, 2002). "Wi-Fi5, We Hardly Knew Ye". 802.11 Planet. Archived from the original on December 7, 2002. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- Clint Boulton (January 8, 2003). "HomeRF Working Group Calls it Quits". Internet News. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- Eamon Myers. "HomeRF Resource Center Contents". Archived from the original on June 14, 2001. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- Home Networking Technologies - This basic (May 2001) white paper introduces the home networking market and applications and compares various technologies, including wired, no-new-wires, and wireless.
- Wireless Networking Choices for the Broadband Internet Home - This (2001) technical white paper examines three candidate wireless networking standards, HomeRF, Bluetooth and IEEE802.11, against the needs of service providers and consumers for the Broadband Internet home. The clear choice for this specific application based upon technical merit is shown here to be HomeRF. Only HomeRF provides simultaneous support for up to 8 toll-quality voice connections, 8 prioritized streaming media sessions and multiple Internet and network resource connections at Broadband speeds. And HomeRF accomplishes this with excellent comparative ratings for low cost, small size, low power consumption, interference immunity, security and support for high network density.
- HomeRFOverview & Market Positioning - (white paper) In an effort to preserve HomeRF information, this paper from Eamon Myers was extracted from PaloWireless.com just before the domain name was sold and its contents removed.
- A Comparison of Security in HomeRF versus IEEE 802.11b (2001) - Though the possibility of attacks similar to those leveled at 802.11b systems exist in theory for HomeRF systems, the relative level of difficulty is very different. HomeRF is stronger in preventing unauthorized access due to its frequency hopping technology and since attempts are not enabled by commercially available equipment.
- Interference Immunity of 2.4 GHz Wireless LANs (2001) - Of the three major technologies available for this band, only HomeRF is designed with a frequency agile physical layer and robust upper layer protocols to combat 2.4 GHz interference. This is what makes HomeRF the ideal wireless LAN technology for the home environment.
- Quality of Service in the Home Networking Model (2001) - The market for home networking will soon see rapid growth. In addition to traditional data networking, this market will be driven by the desire of consumers to have access to multimedia audio, video, and gaming services. The Quality of Service (QoS) requirements these demands have put on home networking technologies has led to new standardization activities designed to deliver the QoS consumers will demand. In this paper we discuss the many ways in which QoS can be delivered, and then focus on the specific attributes of the HomeRF standard that enable it to deliver high QoS voice and multimedia services over a wireless home networking infrastructure.
- A Vision of Next Generation Home Phone Systems (2001) - This paper describes the role of HomeRF, mobile phones, and VoIP over broadband and portrays a vision that combines them all.
- HomeRF: Designed for Homes & Ideal for Teleworkers (2001) - This article from NetworkWorld compares HomeRF and WiFi for home and remote work applications.
- HomeRF: Wireless Networking for the Connected Home (2000) - This technical article from IEEE Personal Communications describes how theWorking Group was formed and the "vision" for the SWAP protocol, which includes the ability to add new functionality by blending previously separate applications for voice, data, and entertainment.