Powerline Networking via Homeplug

Even as a self confessed geek, I never wired up my entire home with Cat5e/6. The thought did cross my mind but it wasn’t practicable then, because of

  1. Costs,
  2. The promised future gigabit speeds of wireless,
  3. The unforeseen advent of digital home theater,
  4. The unforseen need to stream gigabytes of data from one PC to another,
  5. Wifey giving me funny looks

6 years on, and the world has changed. We can say “terabyte” without our brains overheating and exploding; Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices at home are a reality. On the home theater and entertainment front are 3D HD widescreen large format displays and 7.2 point surround sound. That’s more speakers than we have people in the house.

A PC placed in the living room converges these technologies into a media center and allows you to display slideshows of family holidays or home videos with full surround sound effects, shared from central RAID storage on your 65″ plasma/LCD/LED display.

Alas, central storage, and the router are in the study. As far as “interior design” goes, literally miles away if a cable were to be run. You slap yourself for not doing this while renovating.

You turn to Wireless-G for a solution (WPA encrypted of course, you don’t want your neighbours be snooping about your network), and find that it is not 54Mbps, and certainly not 100ft as advertised. Well, sometimes it is. And sometimes it isn’t; and these other “sometimes” are oft when you really need it. My wireless has to travel scarcely 10m through an inside non-core wall of the building – and I could crap it out by standing directly in between the router and my Mac Mini.

Enter powerline networking or Homeplug devices now commonly available in shops. They allow you to establish a data network using your home electrical network.

Apparently they reach incredible speeds of up to 1000mbps nowadays; the salesgirl was trying to hawk me their top of the line product – until I asked her what speed her home router ran at. I bought a pair, advertised for 200mbps.

Aztech 200Mbps Homeplug AV Ethernet Adapter

They plugged into the power socket; you press a couple of buttons to cause them to pair with each other with 128bit AES encryption. Plug one adapter to your router, the other to the far-far-away PC in the living room, and done. No software to load, no settings to tinker with. A 3rd, 4th or more devices can be added to the network.

Powered up the Mac in the hall, connected to the NAS, streamed some music, pictures and video. No hitches. I like already.

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