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Feedback From SSE's Powerline Users

Posted: 05th Feb, 2004 By: MarkJ
It's been just under two months since we heard anything new from SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) Telecom's broadband Powerline (PLC) technology trials. Thankfully ADSLGuide has spotted an interesting piece with user feedback in the 'Independent' newspaper.

Reportedly government funding is coming to an end and SSE is preparing to stand on its own two feet, commercially speaking. So what do the users think?:

Among the first users - there were 251 of them by early this month - are Liz Galfskiy and her son, Adam. Ms Galfskiy relies on her computer for an Open University course. In mid-November, engineers installed a booster box adjacent to her electricity meter and provided a powerline broadband modem. For most properties nearer a substation, only the modem is needed. Setting up the broadband connection is easy; plug in the modem (£50) and connect it with an Ethernet cable to your PC. The service (£29.99 a month) includes unlimited e-mail addresses and web space too.

But is it strange to have your broadband connection through a 13-amp socket? Ms Galfskiy doesn't think so. Thanks to her technically-knowledgeable son, who installed a router, several PCs share the single connection. Broadband allows them to watch BBC news items online and listen to "crystal clear" radio. "It's excellent. I'd thoroughly recommend it," she says.

A test with the speed checker on adslguide.org.uk confirmed an impressive 980Kbps download - 20 times dial-up speeds. The upload result was a poor 478Kbps, given the advertised "up to" 1Mbps for both directions. Adam claims that he's seen 1.7Mbps connections.


The item goes on to highlight how common household electrical equipment doesn’t seem to hamper the connection, although it's suggested to avoid using multi-adaptors on the plug for PLC.

A further speed check showed 517Kbps download and 380Kbps upload. Overall it would appear as if the 1Mbps service is generally equal to a top/good quality 512Kbps ADSL line, sometimes far better, sometimes not.

Others have reported download speeds of up to 1.1Mbps, with uploads peaking at 600Kbps. PLC may at least need to re-consider how it advertises the speed of such services given the clear variability.
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