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The Best Home Alternatives to WiFi Wireless Networks

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 (2:12 am) - Score 115,015

One solution to this problem is to buy a wifi to wired network adapter, which is essentially a small device that picks up your wifi signal and then converts it back into a traditional wired / RJ45 network cable.

One example of such a device is Netgear’s Universal Wifi Internet Adapter (WNCE2001), which at the time or writing retails for around £50.

netgear wifi to ethernet

Pros:
*Convenience
*Fairly cheap
*Low power (some like Netgear’s can be powered by a spare USB port)

Cons:
*Performance is limited by your wifi network.
*It’s not a pure wifi alternative because you still need wifi :).

Powerline Ethernet Adapters (HomePlug)

Sometimes running a network cable around the house just isn’t viable. But you can still benefit from the lower latency and often better performance of a fixed line network by using a Powerline setup. This technology cleverly harnessed your homes existing power cables and, without sacrificing their primary purpose of distributing electricity, turns them into a home network.

netgear homeplug without pass through

The system is usually very easy to configure. In most cases you simply plug one adapter into a power socket in one room, plug the second adapter in another power socket somewhere else in the house, press a button to sync them up and then plug in your network cable like normal. Easy. Modern Powerline kit promises speeds of up to 500Mbps, though in reality 40-100Mbps is perhaps a more realistic expectation (speeds are usually faster and more stable than N spec wifi).

Note that you must plug these directly into the wall socket (not an extension) for the best speeds. Similarly some adapters include a pass-through, which lets you use the socket like a normal plug at the same time, though smaller adapters remove this to save space and reduce the cost. A few of the more expensive options also include wifi and extra Ethernet ports to improve your network options.

homeplug with passthrough

On the one hand we think these are an excellent solution, with big brands like NetGear, D-Link, Belkin, TP-Link and ZyXEL all producing related kit, but it does have a few potential drawbacks. Firstly a lot of buildings have more than one power circuit, which can be separate and mean that your adapters might only work in certain parts of your home. Distance can also affect performance (the further away your adapters, the slower their speed).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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