Powerline Technology (Homeplug)

We have been working on several projects to extend Internet access throughout a small facility. Depending on the size we have used Cable (docsis), DSL, and now we are looking at powerline technology.

Powerline technology has been around for a long time. In 2003 we worked on a project with some rather large VC’s to evaluate the technology for regional home distribution. One of the major things that was quickly identified is that HomePlug signals will not reliably pass through transformers or between different phases of a multi-phase power circuit. In the U.S. our 110v systems have not only effectively created home to home barriers with transformers, but also barriers within our own homes, as homes have 2 phase power.

In laymans terms every home would need two networks, or a specialized device to bridge the networks installed by an electrician. The caveat emptor is that your results may very and it may work, but for reliability it probably won’t.

The technology is still interesting, especially as prices drop, and Moore’s law begins to apply, but it’s not quite as easy as manufacturers have made installing a wifi network.

Additional research into the base speeds provided and a study done by the HomePlug Powerline Alliance

Throughput TCP MAXIMUM 6.2Mbps, MAC (Ethernet) MAXIMUM 8.2Mbps

Homeplug field tests. 450 houses, 6,690 power line links in the us and canada…

Nearly 1,000 of the 6,690 (15%) links achieved the full rate of 6.2Mbps..

77% of the power line links support at least 5mbps, and 98% support at least 1.5mbps..

In this day and age more speed is required, and we have seen several manufacturers talk about 100 and 500mb solutions.. but we’ll see..