• United States

Power lines are not just for electricity anymore

Oct 30, 20032 mins

* Overview of HomePlug data-over-powerline technology

In the past I’ve looked at power-over-Ethernet technology; I’m overdue for a look at what you might call Ethernet-over-power technology.

Covered extensively in Network World Fusion’s SMB Networks section is HomePlug, a home networking technology where the electrical lines in your house are used for transmitting network signals. Any interference problems you might encounter in such a setup have been solved through advanced algorithms, proponents say.

The advertised data rate of those connections is 14M bit/sec, although that is probably optimistic, according to some tests done a year ago:

You might argue that wireless LAN technology does a fine job of providing connectivity throughout a home, which I believe is true, for the most part. But the HomePlug Powerline Alliance points out that you could use HomePlug to put wireless access points in places throughout your home that have better reception or are more convenient than wherever your cable modem happens to be.

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance formed in March 2000 and released its first specification a little over a year later. First products were demonstrated about a year and a half ago. Sponsor members are Cogency, Conexant, Enikia, Intellon, Panasonic, RadioShack and Sharp – and there are more than 30 other members, including such familiar names as Linksys, Motorola, Netgear, Samsung and Sony.

There are more than 50 products listed on the alliance’s Web site as HomePlug-certified, meaning they have been tested to work together.

The alliance is currently working on a new version of the specification geared specifically toward home entertainment – so that video and audio signals could be transmitted over electrical wires at much higher data rates.