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March 22, 2009

The future of homeplug networking

by Joe Kuan

The use of electric wiring as a mean of networking is a significant movement in terms of connectivity. In the future homeplugs will replace wireless networking and much of the ethernet cabling in homes or home offices.

The reasons are that

  • Reliability – wireless network suffers from dramatic signal loss in domestic buildings. I have three different wireless routers and all of them cannot work reliably between upstairs and downstairs.
  • Cost – my pair of 85Mbps homeplug devices only cost me £35 (~ US$50) from Amazon. A wireless router + wireless receiver can easily comes above that price. You probably add another access point device to strengthen the signal. 
  • Ease of use – ease of installation – this technology is truly plug and play.
  • Security – comparing to hijack the wireless network as to intrude my property to steal my electricity. 

However, I don’t think these are the main reasons that homeplug can overtake wireless network. The main reason is simply electricity. All household electric appliances needs electricity to power and all the network packets can travel on top of that power line. Although homeplug technology still have limitations, it is a matter of time (probably already done) that all the LAN activities will be sharing with the power cords to the appliances. This has the implication that devices can shrink even further without ethernet connectors. Then your ADSL modem comes with integrated homeplug capability that transform all your wall sockets into virtual ethernet plugs by transmitting packets via its AC adapter. All your AV equipments such as Wii, Xbox, HDD player, Blue-Ray player, Apple TV, suddenly all become truly integrated without a single cable and work reliably. Like the homeplug manufacturer said, with endless possibilities. 

However, I think wireless networking will still play a vital role in open space offices, portable devices, etc and homeplug will be the major force for household networking.

In fact, I am typing this blog via my homeplug network.

I work for iTrinegy and here are my other technical blogs


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