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The Best Home Alternatives to WiFi Wireless Networks

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 (2:12 am) - Score 99,338
isp network cable

The problem, especially with Android based tablets, is that many of these adapters will not function unless the tablet manufacturers have included Ethernet capability into their version of the operating software.

Samsung, Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba and Sony tablets often have this issue and surprisingly the same can also be said for Windows 8 RT devices. In some cases this can be solved by hunting down a special driver or custom firmware but it’s very hit and miss.

usb to ethernet plugable

Pros:
*Cheap
*Fast (make sure the adapter supports 1000 Gigabit Ethernet)

Cons:
*Poor compatibility
*Cables.. not ideal for portable devices

Conclusion

Clearly consumers have plenty of options to choose from and, interference concerns aside, our personal favourite is the HomePlug adapter; especially those with the dual-use of also being able to extend your wifi network. Do pay attention to size though and consider your needs carefully as some adapters, especially those that include a pass-through socket for other plugs, can be quite big. Likewise make sure to test and see if the adapter causes problems for your broadband or DAB radio and if it does then take it back.

At an extreme you could also fit some of your own Ethernet sockets around the home, just like they do in office blocks, although this does tend to require some basic DIY skills and access to the wall space between floors. It might be tricky but can still be worthwhile doing, especially if you don’t like the idea of leaving a secondary adapter plugged in.

In the future there could be even more options available and a number of teams are already developing technologies that can, for example, distribute a home network by using ordinary household LED lighting (here). But commercially viable products for such applications are still a few years away.

As a final tip we’d also recommend that you pay close attention to the quality of your Ethernet cable. Most networking kit comes with bog standard Category 5 cable (cat5), which is fine for the older 10BASE-T (10Mbps) and 100BASE-TX (100Mbps) standards but can run into problems with Gigabit (1000Mbps+) capable technologies.

It’s generally better to use the more modern cat5e cable for anything offering speeds of above 100Mbps and cat6 or cat6a is good if you want to stay future proofed for 1000Mbps (1000BASE-T) or faster technologies. Many consumers are not aware of this and may thus be missing out on some performance. Similarly it’s a good idea to buy a router that supports Gigabit Ethernet as this will be better able to cope with future demands.

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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.
Leave a Comment
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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