"Wall-Plugged Ethernet Bridge" -- new technology?

I just ran into a house with a bunch of thise "Wall-Plugged Ethernet Bridges" --

and so far I can only find the Netgear brand on the internet -- "model XE102"

Am I using the wrong phrase to search for info on this technology -- is it called something else? or does netgear have a monopoly on them?
dgrrrAsked:
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masnrockCommented:
Netgear makes a few... Linksys makes them as well.

Here's the Netgear XE104 (85 Mbps wall-plugged Ethernet switch)
http://www.netgear.com/products/details/XE104.php

The Linksys Powerline EtherFast bridge:
http://www.linksys.com/servlet/Satellite?c=L_Product_C2&childpagename=US%2FLayout&cid=1115416874725&pagename=Linksys%2FCommon%2FVisitorWrapper

They're really the two major makers you'll find with anything. When wireless took the wind out of the sails of powerline networking, a lot of makers stopped making products. I think some international (with respect to the US) companies like ST&T still make products, but don't expect to find very much in the US at all.

BTW - The technology is officially called HomePlug... here's a link to the HomePlug Alliance website: http://www.homeplug.org
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OkigireCommented:
Nope, that's just what Netgear calls their product.  This technology has been around for years now, probably since the 90's.  The original versions I've seen are proprietary and would connect computers together only with their hardware... this wasn't because they were trying to be exclusive, but because it was simpler to implement than integrating it with the popular ethernet protocol.

This technology didn't really catch on that well, as I'm sure you realize.  From what I know/heard, the two biggest reasons are interference and continuity.

Power lines are designed to deliver electrical power... I've been checking various outlets at residential and commercial buildings lately, and they mostly range in the 117-126v range.  This doesn't necessarily relate to the topic, but the point I'm making is that it's not very stable or consistent.  With that in mind, equipment (microwaves/laser printers/etc) that start/stop may surge the line and/or create other noise that may diminish the signal carried over the line.  Finally, if this device is going to modulate or otherwise change and send a signal through the line, it starts to encroach on the FCC's domain.  It boils down to handling and creating interference on the line.

The second problem is continuity.  Many buildings, and even some homes have more than one circuit.  If you're sending the signal on one power line circuit upstairs, and you're trying to communicate with a computer on a completely different circuit downstairs, well... it won't work.

Wireless 802.11x is a newer standard/technology which has caught on a lot more quickly, and still developing very quickly.  A friend of mine got into the whole powerline-networking thing many years back for fun... ditched it a few years ago though.  :)
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Danny_LaroucheCommented:
You are talking about powerline networking. I use this technology for some of my customers where conventional cabling would be nearly impossible due to environement.  It is much more reliable than some people may think, it depend on what equipment you are using.  Home class product such as linksys and netgear may work fine but i never tried them.

Okigire: powerline signal travel between circuit (even between building) as soon as they are on a same transformer segment and on a as phase.  For circuits located on differente phase, you can use "inter-phase bridge" and it will work.
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dgrrrAuthor Commented:
Wow, great answers.  

I'm going to bump up the points, and ask another question --

I read that these homeplugs allow should allow multiple PCs to connect to your broadband connection. I assume homeplugs will work with routers -- either between the modem and the wall, or otherwise.  
If so -- how do they handle DHCP?
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Danny_LaroucheCommented:
powerline equipment runs at layer1 and act as a HUB would do.  DHCP protocol belong to layer2. Any protocol running at higher layer (encapsulated by the layer1) will be transparent to the powerline equipment.  The DHCP is managed by your router for the entire LAN.  

What`s out about what equipment you are using. You have to consider the secutity of the connection. Remeber, the signal will run out of the house...  Then encryption is a must.    The trick is that cheaper equipment doesnt support encryption by themself, but they use your computer`s software to do it.  The problem is that the router can't decrypt the trafic without the software...  

I recommend using equipment that fully take of the encryption and monitor the link with other equipments.  The best one (maybe the only one) that do all that is the Phonex Neverwire14.  I installed a lot of them at large customer sites with success.
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masnrockCommented:
Notice I'll be using powerline and HomePlug interchangably in my statement..

If you were to use homeplug, it would most like be going between your router and computer. Or between your router and wireless access point.

But yes, you can connect multiple PCs around the house using HomePlug while using the bridges.

All they are intended to do is act as a conduit for traffic (much like a wire or a switch), so if your router is running DHCP, the machines connected to the powerline bridges would receive DHCP addresses like normal. Whatever your scheme, the units would have absolutely no effect on that.
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OkigireCommented:
I think this has already been answered, but essentially this method allows you to use the electrical wiring in your house as a network connection.  In other words, the electrical wiring simply becomes your network wiring.  DHCP and any other data that needs to be communicated will do so as usual, except it's over a different system... including DHCP!  :)
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dgrrrAuthor Commented:
Wait...  If I understand, the above answers seem to indicate that the powerline / homeplug units can't do DHCP.

So, based on the above, so I don't see how two computers on two different homeplugs (homeplug A and b) could share the single IP being handed out by a third homeplug (homeplug c) which is plugged into ONE network port on the router!


Let's say you plug your cable modem into your WAN rotuer port, then plug one of the 4 network ports on the router to a homeplupg device (homeplug C).  In the other two rooms, two more homeplug devices (A and B) are hooked up to two different computers.

As I understand the above (not very well), all three homeplugs (and therefore both computers) are "using" the same single network plug, so they'd have the same IP, and there'd be a conflict.

But that can't be right!
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masnrockCommented:
If you have your router acting as a DHCP server and connected to a homeplug unit, it will send out IP addresses to any other devices connected to other homeplug units. The electrical wiring is just acting as additional network wiring.

Short answer to your question is it will work.
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dgrrrAuthor Commented:
WAit -- so a router / DHCP server can hand out multiple IPs, through a SINGLE ETHERNET PORT?   Why didn't I know that?

That makes sense -- that's the only way a simple hub can work -- right?

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dgrrrAuthor Commented:
I suppose that's what Danny_Larouche was saying, altho my tech knowledge wasn't high enuf to grasp it:
"powerline equipment runs at layer1 and act as a HUB would do."
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