Feeds
90%

ZyXEL PL-100 Powerline Ethernet adaptor

Boldly going where wireless and Ethernet can't

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Before I started testing the two PL-100s supplied by ZyXEL properly, I plugged one into my wireless router upstairs and took the other downstairs to connect to my PowerBook. I wasn't expecting much - I was just mucking around, really. But it worked immediately, with no need to reboot this, re-connect that. I just turned off the notebook's Wi-Fi adaptor, fired up a browser and started viewing webpages. It was truly a plug and play experience.

It felt fast too. Browsing and downloading aren't ideal network performance benchmarks because the speed you get is dependent on outside factors as well as your local's WLAN's bandwidth. Whatever, accessing the 2Mbps broadband connection felt quicker with the PL-100s than my 802.11g WLAN.

Approaching the issue more scientifically, I set up two machines, a Mac and a PC, one upstairs, one downstairs, and connected them directly using manually set IP addresses (firewalls off) and connecting the Mac to a shared folder on the Windows XP machine. I then copied a series of files from the Mac to the PC, dragging from one folder to the other, and letting both operating systems take care of the rest.

ZyXEL quotes a throughput of 85Mbps, but that's not only a best-case, minimum-noise scenario speed, but it's undoubtedly the raw data speed before the effects of the operating systems and the various data-transfer protocols have taken their cut of the available bandwidth. I got 16.43-16.88Mbps out of the system. I should point out that both notebooks' adaptors were plugged into adjacent power sockets to each PL-100, and my North London flat's mains wiring is probably not the best in the world. It's also has a variety of other appliances hanging off it, potentially boosting the noise the PL-100s' error correction mechanisms have to deal with.

For comparison, I ditched the PL-100s and connected the two computers wirelessly via my Linksys 802.11g base-station. I kept the machines in exactly the same locations. Transferring the same files yielded a bandwidth of 5-6Mbps - around a third of that provided by the PL-100 link.

I was only able to try powerline networking with two machines, but ZyXEL claims each unit will talk to 15 others, and four groups of 16 - 64 clients in all - can operate on the same network.

Verdict

Powerline networking isn't going to replace wireless, but I can see it finding a place alongside it in homes and offices where there's no Ethernet infrastructure, wireless is considered too insecure, there are dead-spots, the airwaves are too full, or users are just too fed up of Windows XP's Zero Configuration system losing network connections.

Crucially, it's cheap: ZyXEL's PL-100 boxes are around £70 including VAT, and you don't have to pay a penny on cables. The PL-100 may not provide the same bandwidth as Ethernet - certainly not Gigabit Ethernet - but it is compatible with the very infrastructure you use to power your computer.

And it's quick, too - faster, I found, than 802.11g Wi-Fi. Unlike Wi-Fi, you have to put your networked devices in fixed locations, but if you're connecting, say, your desktop computer to a remote MP3 gadget plugged into your hi-fi, you're already used to working in specific locations, and you've got the bandwidth you need to transmit audio and even video smoothly. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

90%

ZyXEL PL-100 Powerline Ethernet adaptor

Fast and secure SOHO wired networking - and you don't even need to lay down cables...
Price: £70 inc. VAT RRP

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE & Vodafone will let you BONK on the TUBE – with Boris' blessing
Transport for London: You can pay, but don't touch
Turnbull gave NBN Co NO RULES to plan blackspot upgrades
NBN Co faces huge future Telstra bills and reduces fibre footprint
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.