Ethernet Powerline technology paves the way for such products as Internet jukeboxes and interactive games and entertainment programs shared through multiple Internet connections.Phonex Broadband on Thursday announced a new "powerline" device that, for the first time, does not require special software drivers for installation. Powerline technology enables home computer networking through ordinary electrical outlets.
The company's >Never Wire 14 provides "out-of-the-box connectivity" and an instant 14 Mbps (megabit per second) Ethernet network, the company claimed. Ethernet is the most commonly used protocol technology for local area networks.
Powerline products provide "broadband at any electrical outlet." Networks can be formed over ordinary electrical wiring so that high-speed Internet connections can be shared among multiple PCs and peripherals.
Powerline carrier technology employs the unused bandwidth in standard electrical wires, allowing power lines to pull "double duty" as both power sources and network ports.
Network adapters are installed in each computer and peripheral, and a single modem can provide a shared Internet connection.
The advantages are obvious. Since most homes already have electrical wiring and multiple outlets, the potential for a network already exists. The networks can reach into places in homes that wireless technology cannot.
Two 'Formidable Competitors'
The technology is still far from perfect, but is improving rapidly, analysts say. Earlier this month, the two leading designers of the technology, Intellon Corp. and Cogency Semiconductor Inc., announced new integrated circuit designs.
"These announcements about integrated chips are a signal prices should come down," powerline technology tester Toni Kistner told NewsFactor.
"The technology is improving really quickly. The first generation stuff was expensive. It was big. It was clunky. What's excellent is that this early in the HomePlug market's existence, we have two very formidable competitors. The last thing you want is one vendor out there building chips and keeping them expensive."
Diagnostics and Security
Each Never Wire unit can handle an unlimited number of computers and other devices, like modems and printers , the company said. The device also features built-in diagnostics and security functions. It costs US$129, and is available both at the company's Web site and at retail outlets.
It is "inexpensive and easy to use, but also robust and secure enough to manage any home or business concern," John Knab, Phonex CEO said in a statement.
The technology, which has been around for some years, has suffered through a series of setbacks and problems. Initially, for one thing, it was slow and noisy.
Intellon, whose technology set the powerline standard, claimed that it solved one of the system's most pressing problem -- electrical interference from other appliances. Users complained that a microwave, for example, could severely disrupt connections.
The company said its "PowerPacket" product integrates circuits and turns homes into networks, where two or more users can simultaneously share an Internet account, play games or share files and printers. The technology paves the way for such products as Internet jukeboxes and interactive games and entertainment programs shared through multiple connections to the Internet.
Spec Finished in June 2001
According to the HomePlug Alliance, a group that consists of companies selling powerline products, the HomePlug 1.0 specification was completed in June 2001 after field trials.
The first publicly available HomePlug appliances came out in early 2002. Companies selling powerline products include Netgear, Samsung and Radio Shack.
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