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HomePlug Rocks !!


I've just connected a PC on the 1st floor with a downstairs extension, where my router is, via a couple of Acer HomePlug mains networking ethernet bridges. I'm very impressed. Wireless networking is always a matter of trying to guess whether the transmitter has enough range to cover the whole house, but HomePlug just works anywhere you've got an unfiltered socket. Also, no drivers needed, making them largely OS independent.If anybody is interested these are the units I bought - http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/prod...2hvd19wcm9kdWN0X292ZXJ2aWV3&product_uid=72307 - not bad value at £41. :)
looks very interesting. Be interesting to know exactly what speed you are getting from it.
The max speed is 14 megabits/second but I suspect real world speeds are lower, especially if the mains circuit is "noisy". I'm just using it to share out my 2 megabit ADSL connection to a Mac upstairs at the moment, though of course I could equally be sharing a Windows folder, or streaming music from a local server. An older review here - http://www.adslguide.org/hardware/reviews/2003/q3/phonex-neverwire14.asp - when the items were much more expensive e.g. £150 for a twin pack . :)
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Interesting. What's the security like on these? Say one of your neighbours had the same system, could they connect to your router? Theoretically they should be able to since we're all connected to the same national grid. :shrug:
O.K., don't say you didn't ask for it ;) -

How secure is the built-in 56 bit DES key in the Homeplug™ protocol ?

There are two techniques to check the security level:

The first is to perform a cryptographic analysis. This consists of collecting enough encrypted data and trying to analyse them as is done with Internet applications or wireless transmissions. But it is impossible to copy data travelling on a powerline network encoded according to the HomePlug protocol. The HomePlug standard requires that all HomePlug certified components block the transfer of DES 56-bit encrypted data from the powerline network to the user interface (Ethernet, USB, etc.). So the only possibility is to create an access point using an electronic card with a DSP processor to simulate an OFDM system, then install the HomePlug protocol (specifications available only to registered members), and have plenty of time!!!

The second method is to find the encryption key by brute force. In principle, this has to do with the number of tries and sheer luck (4 to 24 character key). A certain key will be programmed on the adapter and the result will be observed. We have the following comments on this method:

The HomePlug Consortium uses a 56-bit DES encryption key. Because this is a symmetric encryption scheme, we only need to find one key for transmission and reception. This gives us a number of tries of:

N=256 ~ 7.21 x 1016.

Assuming that this key is distributed symmetrically, it will take N/2 tries to find the correct key. Each key can be programmed in the adapter by sending an Ethernet frame to the adapter. This Ethernet frame contains a minimum amount of data; the minimum size is 64 bytes, which we will take into account in our calculation. Assuming that the connection with the PC is 100 Mbps, we obtain a transmission time for one frame of:

ttrame = (64 * 8) / (100 * 1024 * 1024) ~ 4.88 * 10-6 Sec.

There is also a certain amount of processing time required for the processor to extract the key, save it to memory and then apply it to future frames received. The time required also depends on the Chipset used; we will assume that this time is negligible. Taking only the transmission time for one frame, we can simulate the time needed to evaluate all the possible combinations:
ttotal = N/2 * ttrame = 7.21 * 1016 / 2 * 4.88 * 10-6 sec ~ 1.76 * 1011 Sec.

This is equivalent to 5576 years.

Even if there are systems capable of performing more than 30 million DES operations per second, the HomePlug system is capable of resisting decryption of the data transported over the powerline network. Compared to other technologies, encrypted data cannot be accessed. The only possibility is to use a HomePlug adaptor, load all the possible key combinations one by one, and test them. This would take too much time to be effective


:laugh: Not quite sure I understood all that, but it certainly does seem to be secure! Cheers Bob!
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btw, heard it knocks out shortwave? radio signal for a large area around your power wires..

BBC R&D Day had a large thing about it in two of their rooms.. how it plays havoc with the new DRM Digital Radio system.

Tom - www.mouselike.org
The Netgear DG834GT also has an excellent coverage. I have a 3 floor house and the router is located in my bedroom (first floor). PC + Printer in 2nd floor. Laptops in ground, first and second floor. Coverage is not a poblem but the product doesn't work in 108Mbps as it should. Max speed you can get out of it is 54Mbps.
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I have installed a few of these products in houses ranging from semi-detached through to 6 bedroom detached houses & their coverage is amazing.
With the previous wireless technologies it was a bit of a lottery sometimes.

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drsox said:
btw, heard it knocks out shortwave? radio signal for a large area around your power wires..

BBC R&D Day had a large thing about it in two of their rooms.. how it plays havoc with the new DRM Digital Radio system.

Tom - www.mouselike.org

Funny thing; I've been following HomePlug since it was launched in the States years ago and not heard any complaints about interference (though we've all heard about powerline Internet services) _until_ this week ! The BBC IT programme Click Online did a report on HomePlug/powerline technology and after a normal start turned tack and concentrated on the interference issue. From the report -

...Short wave radio is used by lots of people, including the BBC World Service, and air traffic control. Surely any possible radio interference should have been spotted and dealt with?

Most mains home networking products comply to a standard called Homeplug. This standard was tested in 500 houses in the US, supposedly to spot any potential interference problems.

Chris Smales Magenta Solutions: "There's been extensive testing in the field and it's not something we've experienced. In the trials of the 500 households nothing such as noticeable interference with home radio systems was experienced whatsoever."

In 2004, BBC researchers conducted an investigation into Homeplug-compliant power line communications, to see whether they did affect radio reception. They found that as soon as data starts flowing, the radio signal is obliterated.

It turns out that the Homeplug standard only requires that devices avoid using radio frequencies that are used by amateur radio enthusiasts. It doesn't mention anything about all the other frequencies that are used by broadcasters around the world.

This interference might not be restricted to your home. It could spread along the mains to any other nearby houses which use the same run of mains cable. ...

So after that, I'm still not clear on the interference issue. On the one hand HomePlug has been used for years with no complaints, on the other hand the BBC report makes allegations (like to see the specific details rather than just "obliterated" e.g. range) and guesstimates e.g. interference might not be restricted to your home. :hrmph:

Get the BBC report as text or streaming video here - http://www.bbcworld.com/content/template_clickonline.asp?pageid=666&co_pageid=3
pcblues said:
Not with this baby:


Yes, it seems to get good reviews. The only downside for me is that the equipment is a tad expensive (don't you need matching MIMO cards as well ?) and wireless cards need platform specific drivers which makes life awkward if you run muliple OSs. :)

P.S. Isn't it next year before there's an official 802.11n standard ?
There was a review by BBC Click Online and they had major problems with it effecting radio signals.
onephat said:
There was a review by BBC Click Online and they had major problems with it effecting radio signals.

Didn't I just post that ... whether they had major problems is not actually clear at the moment though they are certainly having a whinge. :cool:
Bob2002 said:
Didn't I just post that ... whether they had major problems is not actually clear at the moment though they are certainly having a whinge. :cool:

Sorry you did :) i clicked reply but didn't type the message for ages :)
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Hi Bob,

Yes it is a bit expensive but it does beat going to a customers house only to find the signal too weak becuase of distance, wall thickness, type of house, no of rooms etc.
Broadbandbuyer do some good bundles for it.
Yes you do need matching MIMO cards but the drivers have not been an issue for me.
To be honest, when I speak to my customers & explain that there is no guarantee that the older wireless technology will work 100% they insist on the latest because for them it has to work.


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