CeBIT 2007: Will powerline networking outshine 802.11n?

A brief walk around the communications halls at CeBIT 2007 is enough to confirm that powerline networking is a technology in the ascendancy.

CeBIT 2007: Will powerline networking outshine 802.11n?

Dozens of stands are pushing powerline products, which connect all of the devices on your home network through the house’s electrical wiring, instead of having to trail Ethernet cable around the house or rely on wireless solutions.

Why such an explosion in powerline products? Although few router manufacturers are prepared to admit it, PC Pro’s tests have proved that 802.11n is disappointing in terms of both bandwidth and range. With powerline products theoretically offering up to 100Mbps, it’s a convenient and reliable alternative.

Linksys is among the wireless router companies launching powerline products at CeBIT. Its PowerLine AV Ethernet Kit (codenamed PLK200) is based on the HomePlug standard, and includes security software in the box.

The company denies it’s been forced to expand its powerline portfolio because of disappointing wireless performance. ‘HomePlug can reach speeds good enough for [streaming] high-definition TV, around 40Mbps. You need around 23-30Mbps for HD – so you can do that with 802.11n,’ claims Mike Duin, PR manager at Linksys.

However, Duin admits that powerline could step in when 802.11n routers don’t stretch far enough. ‘It’s especially for the market where you have dead spots in the home wireless network. It means you don’t have to put in any new wires,’ he says.

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