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  • sabot00 - Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - link

    This seems to be a great alternative to Wi-Fi and Ethernet systems.
    I personally would take an Wi-Fi + Ethernet system for its power but I can see the appeal.
  • mcnabney - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    I would say that it is a very poor option to wifi.

    The key benefit is that there is no extension of the network outside of the home that an unscroupulous person could enter through.

    Of course that eliminates the use of laptops (unless plugged into a specific location), cell phones and tablets - which is the direction the market is going. Not sure what kind of future in Powerline-based solutions since it ignores the growing segments of the market (unless you consider desktops to be a growing market).
  • derkurt - Sunday, February 06, 2011 - link

    Actually, Powerline is often used in combination with Wi-Fi. More precisely, it is used to extend the network from the point of entry (i.e., DSL/cable modem) to some other place where an access point is connected to a powerline modem. This way, you can have a Wi-Fi network covering your entire home without having to use repeaters, which each cut throughput in half and double latency times, and also without having to install Ethernet, which can be impossible due to restrictions imposed by landlords or very expensive and aesthetically unpleasant in old houses, which do exist a lot in Europe. Reply
  • argosreality - Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - link

    Interesting article and I always thought networking over powerlines was pretty logical but this article could use a bit more editing, I think. The first two pages have a quite a few things repeated and sometimes its hard to figure out where we're going with what. Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - link

    The blurb on the front page and the 'Introduction' section sometimes carry the same information because search engines directly link you to the Introduction section. This is intentional. People arriving via search engines need to get a background on what we are talking about too :) Reply
  • villageworker - Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - link

    As a tech. installer, mainly in residential setting, I use powerline networking technology to solve networking issues only as a last resort. Reason being its a black box. Powerline either works or doesn't. Any thoughts on how either of these chip guys are addressing the diagnostic tools issue? Reply
  • blokeuk - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    How this adapters slip thru the FCC net is beyond me, everybody knows that you cant transfer high frequency thru powerline normal cables thats why we have cat5 cat6 cables and so on, these units are wireless units that work on Shortware (HF radio amateurs , airtraffic controllers AM radio) for 100Mb and Shortwave and Ultra Shortwave (HF+VHF FM , TV and so on) for 1Gb so insted using an antenna they use Powerlines to transmit and the reciever is connected to the same antenna eg. the same powerline to receive the transmittion. PLA FDM is so wide it interfere with everything all across the bands.

    These are not electrical comunication devices they are radio comunication devices
    If you cant install cat cables use normal 2.4Gh wi-fi instead Shortwave Wi-Fi
    These frequencies are needed for Fire Truckes Police and emergency services please dont jam.

    Thanks in advance and greetings from UK.

    PS. Anand should do RF test on these devices when reviewing PLA.
  • lebarle - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    I don't know a lot about it, but I think blokeUK is making a very good point and would like to see what ANANDTECH can find out about it. All of our nifty electronic devices must share this limited spectrum. just looking at the first two videos listed in the blokeUK entry it would seem these powerline devices are VERY noisy and will interfere with my wireless house phones and yes maybe my neighbors police band reciever. If we raise a fuss here maybe the FCC can address this noise source before a lot of these devices get installed. Reply
  • Per Hansson - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    I can confirm your suspicions
    I recently bought the Belkin Gigabit Powerline HD networking kit

    It managed to do 5Mbps over my powerlines, an apartment built 1990.
    When I turned on my FM radio there was an amazing amount of noise in the reception when I was transmitting data, less so when I was not transmitting data but still some pops and cracks in the reception.
    When I unplugged the adapter the reception became perfect.

    Next test was to run the powerline adapter from the apartment out into my garage, the speed now dropped to 1Mbps...
    To my surprise though it managed to even interfere with the FM reception in my car!
    The signal got way harder to receive, it did not crack and pop in the audio tho, but I think that may simply be due to the fact that the stereo in my car is much better at receiving a signal, and the fact that the car itself acts like a faraday cage...

    To say the least I returned this "Gigabit" junk
  • epobirs - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    Those of us who have actually used powerline technologies know that blokeuk is completely wrong and those videos are nonsense. These devices are regulated by the FCC in the US. You know, the same FCC that also deals with the prospect of broadband over power transmission lines, with far greater potential consequence for RF comms. We simply haven't seen the same problems here because they were largely hammered out in advance.

    First of all, it's no great revelation that these are RF devices. It's little different than using coaxial lines in your home to transmit signals originally designed for over the air broadcast to multiple TVs. Guess what? Decades ago, when they started running coax through houses, ham operators took to whining and the FCC took on new responsibilities. A lot of gear on the market long ago is essentially illegal now. Today's spectrum is pretty well managed here. I work with a lot of RF geeks who are involved in emergency services support. None of them has voiced a complaint with powerline equipment sold in this market.

    Wi-Fi is not an alternative for many and that number is growing. Wireless is shared spectrum and in many places the spectrum is severely overused. As most ISP are now supplying new customers with Wi-Fi routers there are whole neighborhoods where it has become essentially useless in large patches due to competing overlapping APs. At CES this year the problem was endemic. The head of Nvidia begged audience members during a keynote presentation to shut off the Wi-Fi portion of their phones because it was preventing him from running a demo using wireless. This is a growing problem that isn't getting much attention.

    Powerline isn't going to interfere with your cordless phone. These are far more common than Ham gear in households and would quickly put any powerline vendor out of business if that was the case. Ham operators are pretty thin on the ground compared to teenage girls.

    As mentioned by another commenter, a far bigger complaint, from an installer's perspective, is knowing how powerline will behave in a particular building. Wiring can vary wildly. In my own condo speeds are fine between nodes on the same floor but drop to a small fraction for a node upstairs trying to talk to one downstairs. Few SOHO IT guys have the electrician's knowledge needed to really say what is going on when they get no signal at all between nodes.
  • wolrah - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    Sorry bud, but you're completely wrong. Look up the specs yourself. Depending on the region, on power lines it'll use anywhere from 1-200MHz. The power lines in your house are in general unshielded, making them effectively an enormous (though not particularly well optimized of course) antenna. The frequencies in use overlap with numerous radio bands, including a number of amateur bands, CB, commercial AM/FM, and commercial/government SW/MW/LW. I don't believe most public safety spectrum at least here in the US is that low down, but there probably is some. Particularly in amateur HF and SW/MW/LW being able to receive weak distant signals is important, so any interference on those bands is an annoyance to area users.

    I'm not sure why you bring up cordless phones. BPL and power-line networking don't come anywhere close to those, so there's no reason to think it passing the "teenage girl test" means anything at all (900MHz, 1.8GHz, 2.4GHz, and 5.8GHz are the four cordless phone frequencies seen in the US).

    Again it will not interfere with any unlicensed radio services I'm aware of other than CB, but you're putting a fat signal in to a huge antenna right in the middle of a lot of licensed spectrum. The area of effect isn't huge, but as an amateur operator if you were my neighbor and you were broadcasting anything on the HF bands I'd offer to help fix it if possible, but if it couldn't be told to not operate in certain ranges it's turning off or you're getting an FCC complaint for broadcasting without a license and interfering with licensed users.
  • derkurt - Sunday, February 06, 2011 - link

    I don't know exactly about the new devices, but a HomePlug AV2 500 Mbit/s device uses a spectrum from 2-68 Mhz. The standard employs these frequency filters (source: German wikipedia):

    * f ≤ 1,71 – AM Broadcast and below
    * 1,71 < f < 1,8 – between AM and 160 meters band
    * 1,8 ≤ f ≤ 2,0 – 160 meters amateur band
    * 3,5 ≤ f ≤ 4,0 – 80 meters amateur band
    * 5,33 ≤ f ≤ 5,407 – 5 MHz amateur band
    * 7,0 ≤ f ≤ 7,3 – 40 meters amateur band
    * 10,10 ≤ f ≤ 10,15 – 30 meters amateur band
    * 14,0 ≤ f ≤ 14,35 – 20 meter amateur band
    * 18,068 ≤ f ≤ 18,168 – 17 meter amateur band
    * 21,0 ≤ f ≤ 21,45 – 15 meter amateur band
    * 24,89 ≤ f ≤ 24,99 – 12 meter amateur band
    * f >= 28,0 – 10 meter amateur band

    In Germany, you are allowed to use Powerline devices as long as they don't interfere with other HF applications in your neighborhood. If they do, the Bundesnetzagentur (German FCC) can be called, which may request removal of the source of interference.

    So far, I haven't heard of a single case where a radio amateur successfully requested removal of a HomePlug device. Keep in mind that the amateurs are likely to be the only ones which might be disturbed by PLC at 2-68 Mhz. In fact, as far as I know, the filters mentioned above cover all frequencies where a radio amateur is legally allowed to operate within the 2-68 Mhz range. Also, although PLC is admittedly turning the power wiring into an antenna, the signal strength remains small compared to other in-house HF applications, such as Wi-Fi.

    In theory, PLC is a "dirty" solution and looks like it would be bound to cause problems. In reality, devices such as mobile phones, babyphones (which also use the power lines), and even WLAN are far more likely to annoy your neighbor.
  • davmat787 - Sunday, February 06, 2011 - link

    Excellent post sir. Just the kind of complete and detailed post one would expect from a German. :) Reply
  • HoosierEngineer5 - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    Do any of these technologies replace the X-10 modules, or are they simply replicate Ethernet? It would be great if these could actually DO something other than pass data... Reply
  • andrewmc - Thursday, February 03, 2011 - link

    Very nice. So when do I get my Homeplug Green PHY silicon. Reply
  • aahjnnot - Friday, February 04, 2011 - link

    Powerline networking is relatively successful in Europe and Asia compared with North America because our housing stock is very different from yours. WiFi isn't a good solution in areas of very dense population, as interference from neighbouring networks can kill throughput. Traditional European housing stock with thick internal walls made of brick or stone kills WiFi, and the long, narrow shape of traditional British terraces mean that Wifi users can often have several neighouring networks that are closer than their own access point. And retro-fitting Ethernet into a property with traditionally plastered walls, stone floors and no wall voids needs either visible cabling or significant redecoration.

    By contrast, the traditional American wood-built detached property sitting in its own spacious yard is perfect for WiFi.
  • ragincajun84 - Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - link

    Is this a paid article? It reads like an ad for Sigma and It barely mentions the other silicon players yet raves about Sigma demos and slideware. Sigma has not brought a single powerline product to market and has been hyped for 5 years and still has no products on the market. Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I believe I have pointed out enough places where is yet to catch up or will have potential problems.

    I wrote the article after seeing Sigma's demonstrations both at their HQ in CA as well as their demo at CES. It really works in the demo situation / lab. Any new company will have teething trouble, trying to get into the market and convince customers. That doesn't mean the technology is not good. Yes, will have to present a really valid case to the concerned people to shift from HomePlug because HomePlug is very well established and mature.

    At CES, after seeing what Atheros and Sigma had to offer, I believe Sigma has taken bigger strides and that is why 75% of the article is focused on them. (They have taken bigger strides because hasn't seen mature silicon yet). This article wasn't meant to be a coverage of the PLC industry as a whole.

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