Nik's Technology Blog

Travels through programming, networks, and computers

Powerline Ethernet Adapters Interfering with Fibre Broadband

I'm a fan of Powerline Ethernet adapters, I've had some Devolo AV 200 adapters running happily for a number of years connecting my desktop PC to the broadband router.

Since moving house and upgrading to Fibre broadband I've had no end of issues with my broadband. The broadband signal kept dropping off and requiring a router reboot.

I originally thought the issue was down to my broadband provider, but I eventually pin-pointed the issue down to the powerline adapters. I could make the broadband connection fail instantly just by trying to download something via the Devolo adapters.

They seem to interfere with my broadband signal. This could possibly be due to the internal wiring in my house. The master socket has been moved and it probably runs near a mains cable. It turns out that VSDL2 operates at 17Mhz and AV2 Homeplus operate at 2-80Mhz.

To prevent my broadband connection from dropping off when using the powerline adapters I had to place them several metres away from the fibre broadband router, which partly defeats the object of not having to place Ethernet wires everywhere.

I even tried upgrading my powerline adapters, but I found that they made my broadband connection drop off even when I place them several metres from my fibre router. The new powerline adapters use the Homeplug AV2 specification, which uses both the neutral and earth cables of the household wiring.

After many hours troubleshooting, reading this post and sending back the new powerline adapters I have now wired my desktop PC to my router with cat5e. The result is a much better internet experience and higher throughput.

HomePlug Networking Incompatibilities

It seems HomePlug certified powerline networking components aren't as interoperable as it would first appear.  I've been using Devolo Homeplug dLAN 200 desk units for a number of years now and they have been trouble free and constantly out perform wireless networking in terms of speed.  I recently bought another Devolo dLAN 200 unit to expand my network to enable streaming video to a Windows Media Extender.

I assumed it would be a case of just connecting it to the mains and using the Devolo dLAN configuration wizard to set all the units up with a new encryped password.  I soon realised that this wasn't the case.
The dLAN configuration wizard didn't even detect the new unit on the mains network.  After looking through the manual for a while scatching my head searching for a non-existant troubleshooting guide, I spotted a paragraph that mentioned that older Devolo products using firmware 1.x need their firmware upgraded in order to work with newer models.

Upgrading the firmware has now made all my dLAN 200 HomePlug certified devices compatible!  Thank God for standards Smile

Worried about potential health effects of wireless networks? Six easy steps to setting up an alternative

You may have read the scare stories about wireless networks in the press recently, and you may be wondering what you can do to avoid the potential health effects and still have a home which is fairly wire-free.
You may also have recently been given a free wireless router from your ISP.
Sky broadband, AOL broadband, BT broadband, Pipex, they nearly all bundle a wireless router in with your broadband contract these days, so what do you do?

Upgrade to a Powerline Network

Whether you believe the scare stories or not. I'll show you how you can still keep your wireless router but without the potential side-effects.

The answer? Upgrade to a Powerline network. A lesser known technology that uses your mains electrical wiring to distribute your broadband connection, which will allow you to connect a computer anywhere you have a power socket, and turn off the wireless signals so you don't have to worry about "WiFi smog".

Six Steps to Avoid Using WiFi

  1. Purchase at least 2 Powerline wall-plugged adapters (Netgear, Devolo and Dlink all have Powerline products). This is enough to connect one computer to the Internet.
  2. Plug 1 adapter into a wall socket near the wireless router, and connect your existing router to the Powerline adapter using an Ethernet patch cable.
  3. Plug the other Powerline adapter into a wall socket near the computer you want to connect to the Internet and connect your computer to the second Powerline adapter using an Ethernet patch cable.
  4. You should now be online!
  5. Now you'll need to log-in to your wireless router console, usually via a web browser (see your router manual for details) and disable the wireless access point on the router. See the screen-shot below for a visual, obviously your router console may look completely different, but usually the instruction manuals are fairly good.
  6. You can now surf the web anywhere in your home wire-free and without using WiFi!

Still confused? Check out Devolo's Powerline flash presentation, which explains all about Powerline networking simply and with animation.

Powerline Networking Now Fast Enough For Streaming HD Content

I've decided to give up waiting for the 802.11n standard to be ratified. When you spend hard earned cash on a piece of kit, you want to have some confidence that it will work in a year or so. Most of the high-end routers on sale today use a proprietary pre-802.11n or draft 802.11n, which may or may not be compatible with devices that meet the standard, when the IEEE pull their finger out.

What is Powerline networking?

Powerline networking has been around for sometime. Essentially it uses your electrical mains wiring as the media to send data over as if it were category 5 cable. You simply plug a box into the wall socket, which converts these signals that multiplex over the mains wiring to Ethernet. Typically you'd have one next to your router, which connects to your routers Ethernet socket, and the other in the room where your computer is located.

Advantages of Powerline over Wireless networking?

One of the main advantages of Powerline networking over Wi-Fi is that there are no dead spots where you can't get a good connection. As long as you are near a mains outlet, you can have a connection; Albeit with an Ethernet cable connected to the wall.

The latest batch of Powerline networking kits are sporting theoretical speeds of up to 200Mbps! Although in practice, overhead in the system, mains wiring and the 100Base-T outputs limit this maximum throughput; However, I have been getting speeds of over 100Mbps along my mains wiring, easily more than 802.11g, and more reliable too.

Installation does not require software drivers, it literally is a case of plugging them into the wall sockets, and connecting up the Ethernet cables and turning them on. This also means out-of-the-box Linux, Vista and OSX support! They'll also work with games machines and media extenders, or any other piece of kit that has an Ethernet port.

I purchased the Devolo HomePlug dLAN 200 AVDesk Starter Kit, which comes with two HomePlug adapters. They include Quality of Service for uninterrupted Internet TV and IP telephony circuitry, and they were given a "best buy" from PC Pro magazine.

There are other manufacturers who produce Powerline networking equipment, like Netgear's HD Powerline adapters, but after reading this review in PC Pro I decided to opt for the devices that conform to the Powerline AV standard.