Powerline networking is simply the idea of using existing house wiring that delivers power to appliances and lights, to distribute network information by allowing the Ethernet packets to be transmitted over the same wires.

Up until now, the standards have been loose and not fully complied with by many of the purveyors of the products. As a result, making items of different manufacture work well together has been sometimes like a black art. The various vendors’ offerings will generally work together, but the top speeds are never achievable, nor are the limits of connection usually able to be obtained.

The article in PC World tells that the newest IEEE standard should make things much nicer when choosing various powerline items; the customer will be able to choose based upon individual features, instead of being locked in to the same brand that your other devices are plugged into. It should also assure the average speeds will increase.

Ethernet? In my wall outlet? It’s more likely than you think, with companies likeAtheros working with the recent IEEE standard for their Powerline technology. The IEEE Standards Association recently ratified the Broadband Over Powerline standard, making it globally recognized. This opens the doors for technology companies to really utilize the tech in the residential and commercial workspace. It’s expected to be used as the new standard for everything from uploading new media to electrically powered vehicles as they charge to extending home networking without a mess of cables to revamping smart grids.

Since those that read me regularly know about my distress about the FCC, the phone companies, and several other players all griping about a lack of wireless bandwidth, the powerline spec being ratified may make many people rethink their needs for using wireless for their networking needs.

When I think of all the garbage encountered by some trying to maintain proper coverage in a large office building, so that there are proper zones of coverage, with little overlap so as to keep interference to a minimum, I wonder why wireless networking ever became popular in the business environs.

This should make much of that go away – the office personnel will still be able to watch their YouTube videos on company time without hitching or dropped frames – and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Back in December of 2006, we reported on the merits of powerline technology, though in their tests HD video was choppy with much of the hardware. The advancements since that time have more than doubled the capacity of the technology back then. Access units (either wireless or ethernet jacks right on the remotes) have also improved dramatically since then, making the technology a no-brainer installation for non-tech savvy consumers.

And those of us that service the technologically-impaired know that will not relieve us of all the problems, but it will certainly make our service calls easier to troubleshoot!

IEEE 1901TM Broadband over Power Line (BPL) standard is one of the more interesting things I’ve read about lately. I can remember seeing it in development, but I lost track of its progress in the miasma that we call the Internet. The premise is a simple one: It utilizes existing power lines to extend your ethernet network into places you couldn’t before.

With a base router (wired or wireless) unit and a couple extenders (again, wireless or 1-4 port ethernet extenders) you have all you need. You simply use the router as you would any other, and plug a remote into whatever outlet is conveniently near where you want a PC or have bad wireless signal in your home. The technology sends out ethernet (up to 500Mbps) through your power line. The Wi-Fi extender is just as simple. Bad signal in a corner bedroom? Not anymore, with just a little remote box plugged into the wall outlet.

This kind of speed will never be achieved in the wild, but if we can reliably approach 200Mbps, it will almost be computing nerdvana®.

That’s it. It can’t really get any easier than that, and I’m not sure it can get anymore fascinating.

Not on paper, anyway.


Year: A period of three hundred and sixty-five disappointments.

Ambrose Bierce


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