When most of us consider setting up a home network, we generally tend to be single minded. Automatically, it seems, we focus on Wi-Fi to the exclusion of any other network solution; and there are alternative solutions.
Wi-Fi has obvious advantages, not the least of which is it does away with the messy job of installing network cables which tend be unsightly, and in some cases difficult to install, particularly if run between floors.
On the other hand Wi-Fi can be a less than satisfactory solution to networking since issues such as distance between devices, thickness of walls and physical separation in the case of devices separated by floors, can impact Wi-Fi performance. In fact, in the past I have had less than acceptable performance with Wi-Fi devices located on different floors.
Power Line Communications (PLC) is a technology that uses the electrical wiring in your home, or your office, to provide network and Internet communication between attached devices, including computers, digital media devices such as a Tivo/Slingbox, and gaming consoles like the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or Nintendo Wii.
To network two computers, for example, you start by plugging the outlet adapters, which form the backbone of the technology, into the two appropriate electrical outlets. Then connect the outlet adapters to the Ethernet ports on your computers and voila! – you now have a basic network connection between the two machines.
Early on in the development of this technology performance was an issue, but in recent years relatively new improvements now permit up to 200Mbps transfer rates. In some European countries 400Mbps transfer rates are common. So playing games on more than one device; transferring video, music or other high-volume files on the network, or using devices such as network hard disk to store large files are not an issue.
As with Wi-Fi, the signals have the ability to travel a short distance outside your home, so this technology includes the capacity to set an encrypted password to enhance network security.
There is some resistance to this technology in the U.S. amongst short wave radio hobbyists, since it’s possible for these adapters to generate unacceptable interference to short wave radio communication.
Simple to set up – just plug in
Instant network connection
No network cables to install
Easy Internet connection sharing Network – Computers, Game Consoles, HD Media Devices
Cost: $100 – $200 (approximate)
If you’re interested in additional information on this technology, then checkout Wikipedia, and the Universal Powerline Association website.
Suppliers of this technology include these familiar companies: NetGear and D-Link.
For additional information checkout “Wired or Wireless?” by fellow Tech Blogger TechPaul. As well, a TechPaul reader asks – why upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet didn’t improve their Web surfing speed? For the answer, read “Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster“, on his site.
4 responses to “Your Electric Wiring Is A Wi-Fi Network Alternative”
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There has been experimentation of “broadband over powerlines” on a grand scale (e.g. cities). Pretty cool stuff!
Nice informative article…
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