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Broadcom Makes Play for Broadband Powerline Prowess

Gigle Networks to be acquired by Broadcom

Power Line Communication or PLC often touted as the next "big play" in broadband delivers audio and control signals to multiple home consumer devices over wired and wireless networks. The reason why semiconductor corporations like Marvell and Broadcom aspire to seize this hot space is because it can be geared to provide Ethernet over Coax, that supports transmission of Ethernet frames over coaxial or coax cable and will have a major impact in future System-on-a-chip (SoC) product lines. With such networks in place, someone could indulge in multi room ,multi device audio and video streaming experiences like say blasting 3D video from their PC to the TV using any one of a number of networking technologies, including Wi-Fi, MoCA (broadband over cable TV cables), and HomePlug (broadband over electrical wiring). It's no wonder that PLC start ups have been ripe for the plucking and quite a few of them have already been picked up like Intellon by Atheros, DS2 by Marvell and Copper Gate by Sigma Designs. Rumor has it that Spidcom and Arkados could be the next ones in line.

The Gigle acquisition might just be what Broadcom needs to kick start G.hn, draft specification for existing-wire home networking, developed under the International Telecommunication Union which is expected to hit the market soon. The fabless communications chip company could very well utilize the Gigle Networks technology to design a master chip that integrates power line networking with other kinds of networking in the same device capitalizing on its existing strong market share in the Wi-Fi and Multimedia over Coax (MOCA) chips for the Set top Boxes (STB) used by Cable TV operators.

According to Broadcom it will pay most of the $75 million in cash, although holders of unvested employee stock options will receive equity awards. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010. Gigle Networks has 70 employees and is based in Barcelona, Spain.