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The Best Home Alternatives to WiFi Wireless Networks

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 (2:12 am) - Score 99,383
isp network cable

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

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

*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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Mark Jackson
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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5 Responses
  1. Avatar Vertualred

    Thanks for the guide, this will be helpful.

  2. Avatar Bob

    You can use your main sockets to distribute the signal. I have never tried it and am not confined it offers any advantage over WiFi. By far the best approach is good old cable. Unfortunatly it is not that practicable in many cases.

    Maybe the time has come for new builds o have a data network installed. It would not be that expensive to put in

  3. Avatar Tim

    I’d been using Powerline but switched to MoCA for connecting my XBox to my Media Centre PC; I found that I got occasional dropouts in network connectivity over Powerline, whereas on MoCA I get a very consistent connection. For streaming TV, it makes a big difference.

  4. There is also another possibility which has the advantages of Ethernet copper cabling but without its drawbacks. This is using Plastic Optical Fibre (POF). You can share the mains ducts as it is an optical cable and now it can reach 1 Gbps (see the chipset from KDPOF at http://www.kdpof.com). There are several companies selling adapters in the form of wall plugs with RJ45 or even WiFi interfaces but, so far, they reach only 100 Mbps. They will start to ship equipment with 1 Gbps capabilities by the beginning of 2014 ( see http://www.pofnet.co.uk) .
    This marriage between a fixed backhaul with all its advantages, running at 1 Gbps, and a WiFi network providing mobility and with just the right power to cover the room with the wall outlet is the solution that really puts in value the best of both worlds without drawbacks.
    By the way, as you can see in the KDPOF web, POF is cheap and with a huge core which means you can cut it with a pair of scissors and you don´t need any connector or polishing which is not the case of the classic GOF (Glass Fibre). POF is easy for DIY or installers.

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