Powerline Networking

Posted on 2011-10-06
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I have just recently bought 4xSolwise HomePlug Av 500 powerline plugs.

I chose this over others as it was cheaper and there was a review online stating it was good.

It is different from NetGear and others as it is not a global brand (I think).

Does anyone have a view on this brand??? Also... How can I validate the bandwidth that I am getting.

Question by:amacfarl
    LVL 43

    Assisted Solution

    by:Steve Knight
    Bought a couple myself and they have been running no problems for some while, though sometimes you get poor speed between certain power points - think may be because tortuous route cables go to extension part of house.

    Aside from that run roughly the same as couple Ive got of other brand.

    As to checking speed the utils that come with tell you a rate afai remember but dont listen to that too much, a bit like wireless rates...

    To get true fell, get a 100!b file, or 1Gb say, maybe an ISO disc image or AVI file and transfer between two points with ftp or windows..

    File size in Mb / time in secs *10 = roughly Mbits per sec.

    LVL 44

    Accepted Solution

    Mb = megabits
    Mb x 8 = MB (megabytes)

    The 500Mb speed advertised adds the 250Mb maximum theoretical speed in each direction (duplex), which is not how any other type of hardwire networking states their speeds (but note that all powerline manufacturers use that misleading math). e.g. Theoretically, 100baseT over cat5 should give 100Mbps (or 12.5MB/s) in each direction simultaneously, but they don't advertise it as 200Mbps.

    I say theoretical because those speeds include frame overhead... which can easily knock from 3% to 38% off efficiency (untagged packets require 38 bytes of frame structure whether the payload is 1500 bytes or 64 bytes, so total packet size can vary anywhere between 1538 and 102 bytes), and that disregards waiting for Acks, collisions and resends... 1000baseT can increase efficiency by using payloads up to 9000 bytes instead of 1500.

    Anyway, assuming no collisions/resends you should be able to get between
    243Mb/s (30MB/s) and 157Mb/s (19.6MB/s) ideally.
    Do not be surprised if it doesn't measure up to the ideal; hardly any network reaches the ideal maximum speed.
    Still, if it's over the minimum (19.6MB/s), you should be able to transfer an hour of 1080i video (~10GB) in 9 minutes or less.

    Note that M is generally used to indicate 1,000,000 (10^6), while Mi is used to indicate 1,048,576 (2^20).
    Same with K for 1000 (10^3) and Ki for 1024 (2^10).
    We're mixing units only when converting from reality (8 bits per byte) to advertised units (250,000,000 bits per second x2).

    I have a couple different utils I use to measure throughput... NetPerSec from PCMag (I got it using a code from the magazine about 10 years ago... it looks like you have to pay to download it now) and NetMeter.
    LVL 5

    Assisted Solution

    The bandwidth utilised by powerline network devices runs into the 10s and 100s of MHz. The domestic mains power network was never designed specifically to handle anything other than 50 or 60Hz. As a consequence, the unbalanced nature of mains power networks means that it can act as a fairly efficient antenna, both in radiating the signals utilised by the powerline devices (about 700mW per device) and as a receiver of shortwave broadcasts and interference from domestic equipment. Powerline networking is basically flawed implementation of technology. If there were regulations in place for mains wiring to be run in screened cables, with plenty of attention paid to keeping the network balanced throughout, all would probably be well. Unfortunately they are not.

    Have a look at:

    The sunspot cycle is climbing out of it's prolonged trough, so propagation of hf signals is in the process of improving *significantly* over the coming 5 or so years. Expect throughput rates of PLT networks to fall dramatically.

    It's much better to run a dedicated ethernet cable-based network around the property. Ethernet cables consume no power, are much more immune to interference, and capable of higher speeds.

    LVL 2

    Author Closing Comment

    LVL 43

    Expert Comment

    by:Steve Knight
    Not sure what you  WANTED ... But you wait that time and then give a B grade with no comment.... Thanks!
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    I'd forgotten about this question.

    There used to be quite a few powerline networking setups running in my neighbourhood but now there may only be one left, and that seems to spend most of it's time trying to make a connection, rather than passing data. The susceptibility to interference makes PLT unreliable for applications needing 100% reliability e.g. video over internet so the folks using PLT here seem to have literally pulled the plug(s).  


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