back to article Socket to 'em: It's the HomeGrid vs HomePlug powerline prizefight

“Two standards, both alike in dignity, In fair Vegas, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” The backers of rival next-generation in-home mains power networking standards may not have come to physical blows in defence of their favoured technologies, but …

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Angel

Re: Your iambic pentameter is off

We don't know what Shakespeare had to do to survive in the early years - jobbing extra was merely one. Maybe subbing was another ...

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Anonymous Coward

Sending signals down the ground wire?

How is that possible?

Also, it may get round surge protectors but does it compromise their protection?

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Anonymous Coward

The needs of the many............

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Mushroom

The needs of the many............

The needs of ~6 billion people on the planet, who use radio to communicate, watch TV, listen to music, etc., outweighs the needs of a selfish minority who are too lazy to run a bit of Cat6!

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Bronze badge

Hardly "6 billion" making use of ham radio, TV's higher up the dial anyway ... are there really more radio hams than people wanting home networks? I doubt it. Just have an equipment buyback, trade all the ham gear in for a VoIP handset, problem solved ;-)

Personally, I'm interested in the G.hn coax option, running a gigabit or so up the disused drop of coax Vermin Media left between floors a while ago. (Yes, having cat 6 would be nice, but I draw the line at drilling through walls/floors myself. I'm guessing once I have a few hundred quid lying around I could get a local electrician to poke a dozen drops down from the attic and stick a GbE switch up there, but until then I'll stick to the Solwise powerline stuff.)

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Hardly "6 billion" making use of ham radio, TV's higher up the dial anyway ... are there really more radio hams than people wanting home networks? I doubt it. Just have an equipment buyback, trade all the ham gear in for a VoIP handset, problem solved ;-)

Billions of people in China, Russia, Africa, North and South America, and throughout Indo-Asia rely on shortwave radio to keep in touch. If you wish to deny them, please feel free to explain it to them. I am sure you will go down a storm!

Let's see your VoIP handset work in the middle of a field/up a mountain!?

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Boffin

Another approach - plastic optics added to standard mains power cabling

I've had cat 5e in most rooms in my house for about 10 years now, one of the best investments ever made. However, this allows only 1 or 2 networked devices per room. A standard suitable for just about every electrical device being networkable without drowing us in interference must involve adding plastic optic fibres designed for easier termination to mains cable as manufactured and fitted into new homes. It's the standard plugs and sockets which need upgrading, maintaining backwards compatibility, to include a data path.

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Silver badge

Re: Another approach - plastic optics added to standard mains power cabling

I've had cat 5e in most rooms in my house for about 10 years now, one of the best investments ever made. However, this allows only 1 or 2 networked devices per room.

How are you restricted to one or two devices per room? Just pop a hub or switch in the room if you need to connect more. The physical topology of twisted-pair Ethernet is a tree - there's no need for each device to have a home-run line to a single hub.

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Silver badge

Who cares which is better?

They are both spawn of Satan and need to stop lying about

1) Immunity to RFI needed.

2) The amount of RFI they produce.

If tested properly, both are illegal.

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Anonymous Coward

How often doesn't it work?

In times past, when I worked on these systems, a major problem was the range being very unpredictable. In some cases, a signal wouldn't travel 2 metres. In another case, the signal in a block of flats appeared in just about every unit on the same phase. I came to the conclusion, that these were "a very bad idea". The range also changes with the circuit loading. I recall doing the spectrum analyser tests on operating systems and the results were extremely variable and often outside the specified limits. Running a circuit analysis on a theoretical power line model shows quite some quite interesting performance anomalies are possible due to cable characteristics, reflections and standing waves. It is not possible to stop modulated power lines from radiating, so I can see why radio amateurs hate them.

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Unhappy

First, I am not a radio amateur. However, I am reasonably technically competent and experienced. When I first heard of these my instant reaction was one of disbelief that wide-band jamming devices were now (apparently) legal. Nothing has been said since then that changes my opinion.

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Alien

Yes, Great Galactor! Jamming of Earthlings' communications *will* proceed soonish.

We have several so-called "companies" working on this. No-one suspects the horrible truth.

All is going to plan.

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Alert

Some factors to consider regarding data over power line.

G.hn was originally sold in the US under the DS2 Universal Power Line Alliance brand. I guess HomeGrid is just a rebranding of the upgraded DS2 product line. As far as my research has shown, the only company that embraced DS2 back in 2007 was Netgear. Netgear eventually began offering Homeplug devices and discontinued DS2 technology.

Unless you live across the pond here in the US you are probably unaware that the National Electrical Code was updated to require Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters be installed on most circuits feeding outlets in all new residential installations after 2008. When I moved into this house which was constructed in 2005 my HomePlug adapters did not function properly when used in any bedroom. It turned out that when the house was constructed in 2005 the NEC required that AFCI's be installed in all circuits feeding bedrooms. I was using a bedroom as my home office. The AFCI's in my electrical service panel were manufactured by Siemens. Unfortunately General Electric and Siemens Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters severely attenuate RF. AFCI's manufactured by Square D and Eaton Cutler Hammer pass RF without attenuation. I replaced the Siemens AFCI's with Eaton AFCI's. Unfortunately those responsible for writing the AFCI standard did not specify RF attenuation limits. MIMO technology was introduced to eliminate the attenuation between the Hot and Neutral conductors caused by certain AFCI's. The third Ground (Protective Conductor) was mandated in the mid 1960's and does not pass through the AFCI. The only way to transfer the RF signal from a HomePlug or G.hn adapter would be to transmit the signal between the Hot and or Neutral and the Ground conductor. The only question is how to prevent an appliance with a metal cabinet like a refrigerator or Microwave from becoming an antenna for HomePlug or G.hn signals because appliances with metal cabinets have the protective ground conductor connected to the cabinet. By the way according to the NEC the only place the protective ground should be connected to the neutral conductor is at the electric meter. The earth ground rod is also required to be connected at that same terminal.

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WTF?

I'm confused - AV2 is already here

This article repeatedly states that "AV2 is imminent" and "AV2 is not here yet" however AV2 (500Mb/s) Homeplug kit has been available for well over a year (in the UK, at least).

So is this article referring to something other than AV2, or is it referring to an updated version of the current and in-the-shops version of AV2 (ie. AV2++, AV2.5 etc.)?

As for AV2 vs. G.hn, since the former has been available for so long, the equipment is cheap to buy and seems to offer all the benefits of G.hn, I really don't see the point of introducing another, different, data-over-mains "standard" - it's like Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD all over again (although I don't see the late-comer to the marketplace being victorious this time around).

Also another note, Broadcom seem to have ended further development of their Gigle-based units, which were taking an absolute battering in the marketplace from Atheros-based AV2 kit.

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FAIL

What's the point of either standard, given ubiquitous WLAN?

Just wondering. Almost all computers, mobile phones and damn near any other kinds of electronics come with built-in WLAN these days. Any kind of wired connection is just extra hassle, even at home. I often see family members carrying the laptop upstairs or downstairs while it streams video. My kid would probably think I have gone nuts (or more nuts than usual) if I insisted the computer has to be plugged into the wall socket to access the net.

Wired connections are sooo 20th century!

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Re: What's the point of either standard, given ubiquitous WLAN?

Try living in an apartment block and see how well WiFi performs at streaming when every channel is in use, sometimes by more than one neighbour. The fact of the matter is that WiFi doesn't work in congested areas (and if it does work, it is unreliable), when Homeplug performs flawlessly come what may (and offers superior performance to even the best 11n WiFi).

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Re: What's the point of either standard, given ubiquitous WLAN?

Simple. Concrete walls & floors.

I have tried all kinds of wireless and wired connections in a range of flats in the UK. Most fall foul of the fundamental issue that they tend to be long & thin layouts, with thick concrete or brick walls between rooms which severely affect wireless signals. And often it is exceptionally difficult to run a wired cable between rooms - the landlords tend to get grumpy about concrete saws or drilling, and one even refused to allow cables tacked around the door frames.

Compared with back home where we build in timber, and running cables is trivial, I can completely understand the desire for PLT. Ring mains on the other hand still depress me - half the wiring in this country is practically stone age.

It is also a particular problem for properties looked after by bodies like English Heritage or the National Trust, who are explicitly forbidden from modifying the buildings if they can help it. Assuming the building has an electrical system in the first place, PLT technology has been extremely useful to them.

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R-J

Re: What's the point of either standard, given ubiquitous WLAN?

So, to check I've got this right, 2.4GHz WLAN has 10-14 channels, although technically fewer are usable in any one location due to overlapping, but PLT has effectively just one channel; in reality a spread of OFDM carriers. What happens when several neighours start using PLT? Is this not likely to impact severely on data rates?

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Re: What's the point of either standard, given ubiquitous WLAN?

You are correct that PLT splatters the mains with multiple OFDM carriers. When neighbouring devices are on the same mains-interconnects (i.e., the same phase-neutral between houses) it is the case of he-who-shouts-loudest. Many PLT devices simply ramp-up their transmit power to try and overcome other noise sources on the mains. I have read of cases where a noisy switched-mode power-supply, which also did not conform to the requisite EMC standards (filter components omitted by the manufacturer), rendered a PLT installation useless due to the noise levels on the mains!

Most of the "set-top-boxes" requiring PLT are missing a trick w.r.t. Wi-Fi. Is it really that hard to fit dual-band Wi-Fi and start using 5.8GHz? They could even include a neat little external aerial to tuck away behind the TV. Hardly rocket science!

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Unhappy

Never count on the presence of an earth/ground line

Many countries don't have grounds/earths but they DO have ground trip breakers in lieu of.

With the advent of plastic water pipes, creating a chasm between the street water main (which are also increasingly plastic) many grounds are dependent on ground spikes driven into the ground and saturated with copper sulphate, etc.

There is an assumption of continuing moisture to maintain the conductivity - again this might be lost when the area surrounding a ground pole is covered with concrete!

In North America, as well as large chunk of Japan, two phase + ground (120-120/240) is used and although the 240V phase-phase is used for cookers/stoves and laundry driers, as well as central air-con systems, phase-neutral (120V) is used for regular outlets and connected to achieve balanced loads.

Ontario, Canada, had a 'gold' kitchen system whereby a double outlet would share the neutral line but each half of the double outlet would be connected to different phases,

This means that both HomeGrid and HomePlug would need to have sufficient power to reach the the other phase - via a street transformer - or some cross-connection between phases would be needed to enhance transmissions.

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Anonymous Coward

Still rumbling on...

PLT is a convenient product so i suspect is here to stay, the proposed standard is just an excuse for not meeting the same performance as every other manufacturer of mains powered equipment. It makes a mockery of current interference protection measures for all types of radio services and will only become worse as performance of PLT devices speeds up.

I think the regulators e.g. Ofcom, the European Commission and the FCC are making a serious error of judgement in allowing PLT not to have to comply with EN55022 emission limits.

You would have thought the FCC in particular would have learnt from the Lightsquared v GPS debacle when it comes to protecting adjacent services but apparently not...

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Unhappy

Cat-5e is SO MUCH BETTER

and it doesn't create wide-band RF interference.

We used to have standards against idiots inflicting RFI , along with a general dumbing down and idiocy we get from Central Govt now , RFI standards seem to have gone to pot too.

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Anonymous Coward

Sometimes the only solution

I hate these things based on this selfish blasting of noise across Medium Wave and Short Wave. Just don't understand how this kind of illegal kit can be allowed. And it is getting worse - with all these YouView boxes being handed out by the ISPs many of them are supplied with very cheap Powerline kit.

Trouble is there is sometimes no choice. I look after home users. And they are often in a rented property, so no drilling walls for cat5e. (Hands up those who have tried to drill a wall made of flint?) Running loose cables around trip people up. Clients rarely want to let me run cables around their house, or from front room to bedrooms. Not only due to them looking ugly but they can be a trip hazard when you are not allowed to nail them to the wall (rented property).

WiFi can be impossible in flats and dense population centres. One client of mine could not connect to his WiFi router sitting on the same DESK as his laptop!! Turned out there were SEVENTY different wireless networks blasting over his house!! it is not unusual for me to find 20-25 networks in this city, but 70 just amazed me.

Many walls contain tinfoil or metalwork anyway. Some locations can just be bizarre as to how wireless fails to migrate around. Especially older buildings. Coverage will fail to get round a property for no obvious reason. There are only so many repeaters you can install.

So frustratingly I am sometimes forced to use these evil power line adapters. Though I will do my best to check out the local roofs for big aerials. I have refused to install for at least one client when spotting the HAM aerials next door.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sometimes the only solution

The point still remains that PLT should not be on the market as it fails the EMC Directive by a country mile. Had authorities throughout the EU done their job properly, you would only have Cat5/6, co-ax, fibre optic, or Wi-Fi - and that would be it. The PLT industry are trying to force the issue by flooding the market with enough crud to ensure a complete ban would create a public backlash (although PLT users are likely to be a minority, and can be ignored as "hobby Internet users"!). What they fail to realise is all of the other manufacturers and fraudsters following in their footsteps. The Market Surveillance Authorities are monitoring (but not doing anything yet) the increase in radio noise caused by non-EMC (and non-CE) compliant LED solutions, switched-mode power-supplies; and radiated emissions below 30MHz from plasma-televisions (which is now being addressed with a suitable EMC testing standard). More and more members of the public are starting to experience interference to their domestic radio services (Band II VHF, or FM Stereo; and DAB) and they are not happy about it. They are being sold LED solutions as a "green" alternative to a standard lamp, and that green solution soon looses its appeal when it wipes out Radio 2. The public are slowly waking up to the fact that the QUANGOs who are supposed to be monitoring and enforcing the law are actually asleep on the job, or complicit in the act of breaking the law. When the public backlash comes against radio interference, you can kiss goodbye to your PLT!

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