Computer Networking When You Can't Install Cables.
Over the last decade we have seen a steady increase in the amount of network-able electronic devices. Pretty much anything that uses power these days can be connected to the internet. This connected state is great, if you had (have) the opportunity and foresight to network cables throughout your house. But what do you do when you didn’t get the chance, and it is now virtually impossible to pull cables through?
This is where most people would say: “Use Wi-Fi, that’s what it’s for!”
However, as good as Wi-Fi is (and they are constantly trying to improve it) there are issues. It’s slower (in most cases) then a hardwired connection, Wi-Fi can also be prone to congestion issues when multiple devices (TV, Mobile phone, Tablet, Games Machine) are connected. Couple these things together and you can end up with a network that is completely unusable.
Keep in mind as well, if the construction of the building is such that it is difficult to pull network cables through, then this same construction will greatly limit how well your Wi-Fi signal will travel throughout the house, which can cause dead-spots.
So where does that leave you? The answer is your power points, every room has at-least one.
Ethernet over Power (EoP)
EoP kits are not new, they have been on the market for close to 20 years. However they were original extremely expensive, and for much of the intervening time they have been next to useless in large areas of Australia.
The main reason these devices were useless was “Dirty Power”. The power most households (and businesses for that matter) were receiving was noisy, this noise was close to the same frequencies that the EoP adapters use. As such the EoP kits would try to translate it and, get confused. Kind of like the old days when you were on the phone to your Nana and you would hear other people’s conversations (or was that just me?).
Flash forward to today and this issue has largely gone away. So now that we can use them what are and how do they work?
EoP adapters come in many different forms, but are commonly bought in Starter Packs, these packs contain two EoP adapters. These adapters get plugged into a wall power socket (do not use a power board, I’ll explain why latter). The First EoP adapter is located close to your modem/router and connected to this device by an Ethernet (network) cable. The second unit is located near the equipment (TV for example) you want to put on the network, and again is connect to this device by an Ethernet cable.
That’s it, essentially. This device (TV) will now talk to your network (and internet) via these adapters and the power cables running throughout your house. If you wish to add networking to other areas of your house via this method then single EoP adapters can be purchased, however it is generally cheaper to just buy another stater pack.
EoP adapters are available with various “data transfer rates” as well, the most common being 500Mb/s and currently top out at 2000Mb/s (actual speeds will vary depending on: distance, network traffic, noise on electrical wires, and quality of electrical installation).
I mentioned earlier that a lot of buildings that would need these devices also struggle with wireless dead spots. There are versions of these EoP adapters that can help here as well.
A traditional Wi-Fi extender needs to be in range of the initial signal they are trying to extended, which can mean that you need multiple extenders to just reach the next room.
EoP adapters with a built-in Wireless extender do not have this issue as they are connected to the network via a (power) cable, and can therefore extend a wireless signal whilst being located away from the original source (EoP adapters do have a distance restriction of 300m, but it is uncommon to reach this).
There are some limitations to the EoP devices, such as the 300m maximum distance between them.
First of all they must be on the same electrical circuit to work. If they are not on the same circuit then it is like two people talking to each other on a string phone except the string is not attached.
Secondly, as mentioned earlier, they must be plugged directly into the wall socket. This is because most power boards have some sort of filter in them (remember the dirty power) this filter is great for power, but it also filters out the data we are trying to send.
This requirement to use a wall socket has previously thrown up another issue; having a spare socket, if the area only had one power point, or had a double but this was blocked due to the physical size of the adapter. Now though, many of the EoP kits have an integrated power socket to “ensure no power outlet goes to waste”.
So if you are one of the many people who cannot get a computer network cable to your equipment for any reason (wall construction, concrete, renting etc.) or you are just struggling with a solid Wi-Fi connection. Why not try an Ethernet over Power kit.