<B>Fred Langa</B> explains how to use your existing electrical wiring to network the PCs in your small business, workgroup, or home office.

Fred Langa, Contributor

January 7, 2003

2 Min Read

Real-World Experience
My office uses a mix of networking media, including standard 10/100-Mbps RJ45 cabling, older-style 10-Mbps BNC coaxial cabling, and a wireless node. I rarely use the wireless node because it's been hard to set up and maintain, and because I have serious concerns about wireless security. (The latter affects the former: it's relatively easy to get a wireless connection going, but it's considerably harder to establish and maintain a truly secure wireless connection.)

Adding the powerline nodes to my network took only minutes with both the SpeedStream and NeverWire units; and I barely had to refer to the manuals. In both cases, establishing a secure connection was impressively hassle-free -- and vastly simpler than setting up a secure wireless node.

The speed of both brands of powerline units was roughly equivalent to a standard 10 Mbps network connection, or to a standard wireless connection when the wireless node has excellent signal strength. And despite the presence of a number of portable phones, quartz-halogen lights on dimmer circuits, and other devices that can sometimes cause interference in the frequency range used by powerline devices, I never noticed any speed decay or increased error rates. In routine use, powerline networking "felt" solid and just as fast as any other kind of networking in the 10-Mbps speed class.

I'm very impressed with powerline networking, and I'm not the only one. (See, for example, Dave Strom's Web Informant article.) I've even made powerline networking a permanent part of my office setup. For me, it's effectively replaced my wireless node. In fact, I think powerline networking is worth a serious look by anyone seeking to add or extend networking for PCs, Macs, Linux boxes, or any other network-capable devices within a small business, workgroup, or home.

What's your take? Have you tried powerline networking? Have your experiences been positive or negative? Do you feel that powerline networking's better security is worth the inconvenience of being "tethered" to a power outlet, or does the total freedom of mobility of wireless networking make the lower security worthwhile? Join in the discussion!

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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