Ethernet over Powerline (EoP), or Powerline networking, uses your small business or home's electrical wiring as a wired data network. This technology is not new, in fact, power companies have been sending control signals over their mains since the 1920s to control electricity meters. The electrical wiring in the average small building or house can support a variety of frequencies and home and small business EoP networking adapters use higher frequencies that do not interfere with those used by electric companies.

Since 2014, technological advances in EoP have more than doubled the amount of data that can be transmitted making EoP an extremely viable way to increase network coverage without the usual drawbacks encountered with “network extenders.” Actually, Wi-Fi network extenders, do extend a wireless network but at the same time cut the data flow by half or more; EoP does not.

As the marketplace grew for these products it was found that many 2 prong (SISO - Single input single output) EoP adapters were tripping AFCI circuit breakers. This has been resolved for the most part by adding a ground (third prong) and more signal filtering ability. These newer, more expensive adapters also use MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) creating greater throughput and less signal loss and greater signal filtering. These new standards, one of which is called “HomePlug AV2 MIMO” is what Francis IT recommends for single home and small business use.

There are some drawbacks to any EoP device, as electric power can create noise that might make it tougher for an EoP adapter to filter out data signals. Plugging a phone charger (or anything else that’s constantly drawing power) into the same receptacle that an EoP adapter is using can degrade network performance. However since distance attenuates the impact of the noise, moving the charger to a receptacle that is several feet away may improve the EoP adapter’s performance. These adapters cannot be plugged into extension cords, most surge protectors or share a receptacle with other high powered appliances such as refrigerators, toasters, counter top ovens, blenders, microwaves or vacuum cleaners. Most of the more expensive adapters come with a pass-through plug that will filter out most signal interference for smaller devices. For example it is safe to plug a wireless router into an EoP adapter’s pass-through plug, and then run a short ethernet cable between the two to create the data network over Powerline. The network that these adapters create can be encrypted much like the Wi-Fi network that runs over them so data security is not an issue.

The newer MIMO standard uses all three wires in an electrical cable, transmitting data on any two pairs: Line/Neutral, Line/Ground or Neutral/Ground to achieve theoretical TCP throughput of up to 1.2Gbps (in ideal conditions.) The earlier EoP devices transmited using only the Line and Neutral wires; SISO (Single Input, Single Output) and delivered a maximum throughput between 200 and 600Mbps, depending on the manufacturer and version.

Ethernet over Powerline is not designed to replace a Wi-Fi network. It's supposed to complement one. EoP is a bridging technology: it is useful for extending the reach of a network to places where wireless coverage is poor, or where the fastest connection possible is necessary, for example to use an Apple TV or watch Netflix on a Smart TV, or to add a Wi-Fi access point.

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