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The Best Home Alternatives to WiFi Wireless Networks

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

Interference is another bugbear for the industry. Most Powerline adapters operate in the short wave (2MHz to 86MHz) radio spectrum bands, which can interfere with some DAB radios, broadcast radio systems (hams) and might potentially even cause problems for certain ADSL/ADSL2+ broadband connections (i.e. usually only if your phone line runs alongside the mains wiring – cross interference).

Some people have also raised concerns about security (e.g. flats and home tenants sharing power circuits) but in practice the 128bit AES encryption used with modern kit should be fine, for now.

One final point is that if you do pick a Powerline adapter then make sure they all support the same modern standard, ideally HomePlug AV (AV500), HomePlug AV2 or newer. Many of these are built to a higher standard than the older kit and benefit from being more mature and better shielded technologies, though interference remains a concern.

Pros:
*Performance
*Mostly inexpensive
*Discreet network
*Possibly more secure than wifi

Cons:
*Interference could be an issue under some circumstances (especially avoid cheap imports and the old 85Mbps adapters)
*Claims of 500Mbps+ are hugely unrealistic (just like wifi)
*Might not work in all your rooms

Ethernet over Coax (EoC or MoCa)

Quite a few homes have pre-installed coaxial cable (e.g. 50-75 ohm coax cable), which is more traditionally used by cable (CATV) and satellite TV operators. But did you know that this can also be converted to function like a traditional home network? Well it can.

Generally Ethernet over Coax comes in two flavours, the more standards complaint EoC variety of kit or the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) alternative. Neither choice is particularly cheap and EoC hardware tends to be aimed more at network admins than the domestic environment. Elsewhere MoCA is technically a better solution for home users, even though it’s not an official standard and lacks support.

actiontec moca adapter

Actiontec sells MoCA Network Adapter’s (ECB2500C02) for about £100 a pop and EchoBox also does some similar kit, although performance tends to be in the 30-100Mbps region (if you’re lucky). This solution can be a bit expensive and in some cases it won’t work with your existing TV setup. MoCA in particular doesn’t like you using the same coax if it’s already connected to a satellite TV service.

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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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