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Power Line Communication
By: Bruce Coker
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    Table of Contents:
  • Power Line Communication
  • How does it work?
  • Limitations and risks
  • Which hardware?

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    Power Line Communication - Limitations and risks

    (Page 3 of 4 )

    Needless to say, there are a number restrictions and limitations on how well PLC works.

    • Competing Standards
      Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the Homeplug PowerLine Alliance, there is a competing PLC standard: PowerLine, which is supported by the Universal PowerLine Association and based on a DS2 chipset. This kind of situation is by no means new in the technology world, but has regularly been demonstrated to seriously inhibit uptake. PLC is no exception, which is why the IEEE has gotten involved to try to encourage the industry to collaborate in ratifying a single standard.

    • Distance
      Although PLC is very effective at the scale of a regular house, it is not suitable for extremely large buildings. Even those living in bigger-than-average houses are likely to benefit from using the faster 200Mbps adapters over the slower 85Mbps and 50Mbps varieties. Mansion dwellers are likely to need to install switches here and there to give the signal a boost.

    • Security
      Although significantly more secure than open wireless networks, PLC does still represent a certain degree of security risk. Certainly in any building, such as an apartment or semi-detached house, where there's a possibility of shared wiring with neighboring properties, the usual security measures should be taken, such as encryption and strong passwords. In addition, many PLC adapters are supplied with software designed to restrict the network to properly configured devices, and this should be used whenever the possibility of any risk is present.

    • Short-wave radio interference
      Ironically, given that one of the reasons why many people consider turning to PLC is interference, it can be guilty itself in this area. In particular, there is evidence that short-wave radio reception can be degraded by the RF interference produced by some PLC adapters. D-Link has claimed that its DS2-based devices are specifically designed to eliminate this problem, and the Homeplug PowerLine Alliance has claimed to have overcome the challenge presented by PLC as a source of electric noise. Nonetheless, much anecdotal evidence remains that this is an issue that adopters of the technology might yet have to confront.

    • Other interference
      There have also been reports of PLC interfering with devices such as keyboards, computer mice and even fridges and other household appliances. Once again, modern adapters have incorporated technologies to overcome these problems. In particular, notching frequency filters have been developed to block out the specific frequencies that are known to cause problems. D-Link, in particular, has included programmable notch filters, so that any adapter that is causing interference difficulties can have the problem frequencies blocked.

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