It seems, there is no such thing as a perfect home networking technology. Be it Wi-Fi or power line networking, as home networks become increasingly complex, so will our options. While Wi-Fi might be the one size fits all connectivity option, we might end up using a potpourri of other gear to shunt video or connect our A/V devices with each other.
For example, the rise of internet video, and connected A/V gear is helping bring back power line networking – technologies that allow you to set up Ethernet network using the existing power cables – back in fashion.
In its first iteration, lack of bandwidth oomph and complex setup options, led to a thrashing by Wi-Fi in the market place. The power line networking technology backers regrouped and have came back with standards and gear, that can find place in the connected home.
HomePlug Powerline Alliance has come up with two standards – HomePlug (speeds of up to 14Mbit/s) and HomePlug AV (speeds of up to 200Mbps though the speed delivered is more like 100 Mbps.) There is an extension to HomePlug 1.0 called HomePlug 1.0 Plus Turbo that can deliver speeds of up to 85Mbit/s.
While many issues still remain to be addressed, better silicon, easy to set-up devices and faster network speeds – might allow power line network to overcome its legacy of failure. In my opinion, the only real use of the power line technology is hooking-up the Audio/Video gear to the home network.
You can judge that from the kind of devices that are starting to ship – most of them are A/V oriented, like Sling Media’s newly announced device, Slinglink Turbo
The regular HomePlug is just too slow for what we need in our home networks, while Wi-Fi networks remain a bit spotty. That leaves connectivity options like MOCA and HomePlug A/V.
Connecting non-PC type devices to a Wi-Fi network is still a pain, and it is even more painful in case of A/V devices. I have tried Akimbo, TiVo and other stuff with Wi-Fi connections, but in the end reverted to Ethernet cables via a switch.
However, it wasn’t easy to run cables everywhere. Similarly, it has been hard to connect my Cisco IP-Phone to a Wi-Fi network, but no such problems connecting it to the Net over Netgear’s Powerline adapters.
There are several other connectivity options that are emerging. Which one of those you think will be a good addition to the mix that already has WiFi and HomePlug?