Computer Corner #16

By Bob Habas

Formally of computer Connections

Power-Line Networking
Power-line networking is one of several ways to connect the computers in your home. It uses the electrical wiring in your house to create a network. Like HomePNA (Home Phoneline Networking Alliance - networking over existing phone wires), power-line networking is based on the concept of "no new wires." The convenience is even more obvious in this case because while not every room has a phone jack, you will always have an electrical outlet near a computer. In power-line networking, you connect your computers to one another through the same outlet. Because it requires no new wiring, and the network adds no cost to your electric bill, power-line networking is the cheapest method of connecting computers in different rooms.


Pros and Cons
There are two competing power-line technologies. The original technology is called Passport, by a company named Intelogis. A newer technology called PowerPacket, developed by Intellon, has been chosen by the HomePlug Alliance as the standard for power-line networking.
Here are the advantages of a power-line network:
It's inexpensive.
It uses existing electrical wiring.
Every room of a typical house has several electrical outlets.
It's easy to install.

There are some disadvantages to connecting through power-lines technology:
The connection is rather slow -- 50 Kbps to 350 Kbps.
The performance can be impacted by home power usage.
It only works with Windows-based computers.
It can only use 110-V standard lines.
Older wiring can affect performance.
Connection speeds for different networking technologies:
PowerLine AV = 15 Megabits per second (Mbps)
802.11g (Wireless) = 54 Megabits per second (Mbps)
802.11n (Wireless) = 65 Megabits per second (Mbps)
Ethernet CAT5 (Wired) = 100 Megabits per second (Mbps)
Do It Yourself! Watch how to set up a power-line network:

Beyond allowing your network to extend where it isnít otherwise able to go, PowerLine technology offers interesting capabilities for households and small office/home office environments. Itís great for extending the reach of home media, especially for the growing number of small networks with streaming media servers or to bring media extenders or gaming consoles into the mix. PowerLine technology is also a boon for those who want to connect computers to the network in rooms where in-wall or other wired outlets may be absent or where interference or distance makes wireless unworkable. This can be especially helpful in condos or apartment buildings with rooms adjacent to elevators, large transformers, or other heavy electrical equipment. Given that electrical wiring already goes everywhere, why not use it to let your network do likewise? On average, youíll pay about $55 to $65 per PowerLine AV adapter, which puts it on par with 802.11n USB adapters and about $10-$15 more than 802.11g adapters
Netgear XAV101 - $70


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