Once upon a time, data networks could only be considered within the realm of large corporations. Over the years, as technology advanced, applications increased and costs plummeted, networks began sprouting in medium and even small businesses. Today, networking has become so prevalent in western society that homes are no longer complete with just the traditional triptych of running water, electricity and telephony; this has been upgraded to a tetraptych that includes Internet connectivity.
It is interesting to note that when traditional utilities were first introduced into homes, they were usually located in only one room. For example, running water could be found only in the kitchen, just one telephone would be installed per home, and a light fixture was present only in the living room. As the years went by, this quickly changed. Telephones could be located in any room, running water was available in the kitchen, the bathrooms and in the garden, and electricity could be accessed from multiple sockets in all areas of the home.
Internet connectivity seems to have gone through the same stages. Only a few years ago, network connectivity was only available at or near the modem, that is, at only one location within the home. Today homes are being built with Internet connectivity in all rooms via structured cabling. Connect your modem to a switch and the switch to structured cabling and you have wired Internet that is accessible from all of your rooms – and this technology is changing our homes for the better.
But what about us poor chaps who bought our homes several years ago when such a trend was not at all prevalent? Sure, Wi-Fi is a solution, but it is unsuitable for some of today’s bandwidth hungry applications such as high-definition or 4K video streaming. Of course you could hire someone to cover your home completely with super-high-speed Wi-Fi which is available today, but the costs can approach and even surpass those of re-cabling from scratch. How can we enjoy a similar quality of Internet connectivity without having to dig into our walls and run Ethernet cabling throughout? Is there a cheaper solution?
Power-line communication is a method that allows you to use the internal electrical cabling of your home to carry data in addition to the AC power it already provides. In essence, it allows you to have a network jack wherever you have a main socket. Just plug in a Power-line device at your Internet modem and another wherever you want to have a network jack and you instantly have a wired connection to the Internet. In the past, the cost was too high and the quality was too low. Recently, however, this technology has improved drastically and even though it may be known as the poor man’s structured cabling, its performance can be exceptional. It all depends on the quality of your electrical cabling. If it’s up to American or British standards from an accredited American or British cable supplier for example, then the quality of the network is expected to approach that of a conventional structured cabling infrastructure.