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Powerline networking for more reliable Internet

For years we've been using wifi throughout the house.  Our 'Fritz! Box 7390' provides dual band wifi for most of the house, with some poor reception in the furthest parts of our extension.  I'm pretty certain the deadspots are because of the number of walls and presence of steel work and cables within them that interfere with reception.

With four people in our house, there's huge amounts of Netflix and YouTube viewing as well as gaming,

Periodically we've had bad connections. Our (now ageing) Samsung TV was perhaps the most frustrating, frequently losing its dongle wifi connection and having a frustrating process of re-establishing it. That includes entering the wifi network name and password using the TV remote - a job no-one could enjoy.

We didn't cable the house for data when we extended it, which is something I regret. At the time I though wifi would be good enough. That was a short-sighted decision.

When we had a section of floor repaired, I used the opportunity to stick my head into the subfloor and using a piece of yellow tongue, check if I could get an ethernet cable from our living room TV to the location of our wifi router. However, I found a remnant of the original house wall in the subfloor blocked access, and I had no wish to crawl into the confined sub-floor to knock a hole through.

So I decided to try powerline networking.

TP-Link powerline adaptor

Powerline networking using the electricity cables in your house to transmit data.

I read up on the technology in Techlife magazine and then sourced TP-Link powerline adaptors. They enable you to install one for your router and then to connect as many as you need wherever you need a network connection.

The two items were a starter kit and an extender:

  • TP-Link AV500 WiFi Powerline Adaptor Starter Kit with AC Pass Through, 500Mbps (TL-PA4010P) for $95
  • TP-Link AV500 WiFi Powerline Extender Single Pack,with two Ethernet ports, 300 Mbps (TL-WPA4220) for $79.

One disadvantage we have is that having extended our house, our standard power points are on two different circuits. Thankfully our XBox, which requires the fastest connection, is on the same circuit as our router.  Our Samsung TV is on a different circuit, requiring data to pass through our home switchboard. This slows down the connection.

TP Link powerline results (receive/send)

Setting up is reasonably easy.  It's a matter of plugging in one, then syncing the others. Having said that, our living room unit is also a wifi extender that I haven't been able to get to work (writing this will make me try again!).

Using them involves plugging an ethernet cable from the device you want an internet connection for, into the base of the unit.  At the router end, there's another ethernet cable from that unit into the router.

Because the unit plugs into a power point, 'pass through' devices have a powerpoint so that you can still use it for power for your devices.

We've been very happy with the results.  I can't think of one instance of our TV losing its internet connection since we started using it. We still get instance of buffering, but that's typically when we have multiple devices streaming at the same time.

The XBox is also significantly more reliable. We only have ADSL2 for our Internet connection which may reduce latency when gaming, but at least we've got reliability. The NBN is due 2017.


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