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Home Phoneline Systems

In addition to the cable that's used for electrical outlets, homes usually come with telephone cables; modern homes commonly have one or more telephone outlets in each room. Each of these telephone outlets can support three telephone lines using three sets of wires (six wires total). The home's main number will use up one set of wires. That leaves two sets of wires free.

Some vendors have begun using the second or third set of wires as another method to move data from one point to another. You can access the second set of wires without changing anything in the telephone outlet box. Other vendors have begun piggybacking the network signal on top of the normal telephone signals. A well-designed system won't interfere with your telephone conversations as you work at the computer. The result is the same using either strategy; your data goes from one computer to another using a standard telephone connection.

As with powerline solutions, you can find phoneline systems that meet specific standards, which ensures that you get the maximum benefit from your network with the fewest problems. These standards specify the speed at which the system communicates and how it transfers data from one point to another. Using a standardized system means that you don't need to worry quite as much about getting updates and additions from the same vendor you used for the original installation. You can find out more about the home phoneline standards at the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HomePNA).

This network-connection scheme works much like the home-wiring system. You connect a cable between the computer and the telephone line (instead of a receptacle). The telephone wiring does the rest. The only major difference is that some home phoneline systems require that you install a network interface card. Low-cost versions of these cards are about $20, which increases overall network cost a little, but not much. You normally get higher data-transfer rates using a home phoneline system in exchange for the slightly higher installation cost.

One of the biggest benefits of phoneline systems is speed. The network can achieve 128 Mbps transfer rates using the HomePNA 3.0 standard. One of the best places to get existing phoneline systems is Linksys.

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