Belkin reveals world's first Gigabit Powerline adapter

The technology that allows you to stream data through your house's existing electrical circuits is interesting. Not only is it interesting, but it's mighty secure and extra stable, and companies know this... and they sure want consumers to know it too. Belkin have a range of what they call "Powerline" adapters, products which plug directly into your electrical socket and can communicate to other adapters throughout the house. Just today, however, they have release a new product in this line, collectively called the "Gigabit Powerline HD Starter Kit adapters", and as you can imagine, they can transfer some pretty slick speeds.

These adapters allow, at most, speeds of up to 1000Mbps, although due to hindrances such as interference, network traffic and building materials, actual speeds will be lower. Before Belkin released this product, the fastest Powerline item on the market could only hit up to 200Mbps. These look like mighty handy devices... before this, their convenience came with the drawback of lower speeds, but as mentioned, this problem seems to be no more.

Here's Belkin's list of features from their press release:

-- Ideal for ultrafast high-quality transmission of multiple video streams, reducing online gaming latency and quickly transferring large data files
-- Includes one single-port Adapter for a gaming console, HDTV, or a computer and another single-port Adapter to plug into a router
-- Stream multiple HD movies and game online
-- Improves Internet connectivity in remote rooms or places hard to reach with wireless connections
-- Provides a secure, stable networking signal
-- Push-button security
-- Plug-and-play setup

Mesh network:

-- Adding a third (or more) Belkin Powerline Adapter enables Gigle's xtendnet™ feature that provides increasing networking stability and performance by creating a transparent mesh network.
-- Compatible with HomePlug®AV products

If you live in North America and think these devices look pretty slick, you're in luck. You can get one today, for the price of $150 (includes two adapters), but if you live in Europe, expect to see these babies hit around August. As for other countries... well, dreams are free.

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From the technical white paper on the homeplug site

Compliance and Coexistence
HomePlug standards use the unlicensed frequency band between 4.5 - 21MHz for transmitting the signal
over the powerline. According to FCC rules, HomePlug is a secondary user in this band. FCC has two
primary requirements with respect to emissions performance of such devices:
Products must meet FCC part 15 radiation limits
Product must not cause harmful interference to licensed users of the band.
HomePlug has expended substantial efforts to ensure that products designed to the HomePlug specification
can meet these requirements. To meet the radiation limits imposed by FCC part 15 rules, the specification
limits the maximum signal level that can be injected on to the power line. Tests conducted by FCC certified
labs in various regions of United States show that the maximum signal levels incorporated in the
specifications result in emissions that are below the part 15 limits. HomePlug also limits its power spectral
density around the amateur-radio bands by inserting 30-dB notches for the HAM bands in 4.5- to 21-MHz
HomePlug frequency range. Due to this notching of HAM bands, only 76 OFDM carriers are usable in
HomePlug products operating in United States. Joint testing conducted by HomePlug and ARRL showed
that, in general, with a moderate separation of the antenna from the structure containing the HomePlug
signal, interference was barely perceptible. HomePlug is also compatible with other low speed powerline
technologies like CEBus, X10 and LonsWorks as they operate in different frequencies.

FCC (USA) Part 15 radiation limits are very undemanding and do not apply in the EU.
I have a pair of Solwise 200Mb/s HPA units and installed them temporarily
in 3 neighbours houses,one 30 meters away,there was considerable interference in each case so that leaves me wondering what a moderate
separation is?
Note that the units "sleep" when there is no data being passed so then
they are less troublesome but still easily heard at 30 meters.
Note also the frequency range extends to 28Mhz.
I also have a pair of Comtrend PG902 adaptors these are to UPA standard
and are those used by BT Vision,they are even worse than the Solwise units and do not "sleep" so the nearby radio listener has their reception
ruined 24/7 even when the owner is not downloading video or whatever.
Pressing the standby button saves power consumption but does not stop
the radio interference.
I was affected badly by five BT Vision adaptors and had to complain to
Ofcom as several thousand pounds worth of modern equipment was
being made unusable.
Four of the units were removed by BT Vision on Ofcoms instructions because of what they describe as Spectrum Abuse,3 units were direct
wired the 4th replaced by Wi-Fi,the 5th unit went off for reasons unknown.
The whole process took from 8 August to 30 November 2008 to be resolved.
One unit was 300 meters away.
Weak interference can still be heard from units beyond 300 meters,note
that this area has underground mains wiring,where there are overhead
cables the interference is even worse.
From the users point of view I found even in my small house neither
type would work on every 13 Amp socket some slowing the data rate
considerably on one socket there was no data transfer at all.
The Comtrend units also cease operating occasionally probably due to
mains surges and this may account for some units going out of use as
their owners get fed up with their quirks.
In Europe these adaptors should pass a test to standard EN 55022 but
when several units have been independently sent to an accredited test
facility they have failed by a very wide margin,1000 to 1 for the Comtrends.
Not too surprising then that the manufacturers are trying to get the test
specifications relaxed ,of course the interference will still be just as bad.

I wonder how they figure this is secure. It's not like every house has a one-way connection from the cogen plant. Utility companies are starting to implement remote usage meters which report electricity consumption up through the power lines to the monitoring stations. So compare the remote meter to your powerline network.
Any signal broadcast through the power lines will eventually reach a transformer and be stepped up: a step-down transformer used to lower voltage for residential service will also work in reverse and step up voltage and signals (although with an increase in noise). Given the nature of transformers, cross-talk can induce the signal(s) to adjacent legs and allow the signal to propagate elsewhere.

one question tho, because of a house having two legs of power coming in, if say the den of the house is on one leg, and a bedroom on the other side of the house is on the other leg, does it cross over somehow?

Buttus said,
one question tho, because of a house having two legs of power coming in, if say the den of the house is on one leg, and a bedroom on the other side of the house is on the other leg, does it cross over somehow?
Good question.
And what about houses that have ~440 / 3 phase service? Yet another leg to deal with. Maybe the signal is distributed on the neutral or ground?

ive been using homeplugs for a few years now, convenient way of getting internet around your home with minimal fuss.
however, recently i built a home server and put in a cheapo PSU, whenever i plug this thing into the mains, the homeplugs stop working. Unplug it, they work again. I guess the cheap psu is pumping noise into the circuit which is breaking the homeplugs? ....Anyway, if you have any hardware that does this (and you wouldnt know as it appears to function normally) you may have issues with this technology.

i have a pair of the 200mbit ones; works quite well. looks identical to these.. im sure the gbit versions will be just as reliable

Now that's cool. The price isn't bad considering what you're getting. If I could get a set of these bad boys in my house, it'd make things much better.

if im situated in Israel and i buy these adapters in the U.S? would they work if i plug them in Israel? (obviously i would use a power converter)

i love it how people are saying that it will burn down your house and start getting hot and all this other crap, Does everyone understand what manufacturing is like mass production you get faulty units just like Tv's and Computers that go faulty you take it back and they swap it over, Oh yeah or you have a ****ty house with faulty power plugs now that's a real problem.

if your unhappy with the belkin or netgear you have i suggest you go to their site and put in a complaint or something because they actually listen and they will probably try fix the problem if their is even any.
In Australia i have sold tones to customers and never had a problem with them from bother brands + i use it myself.

as you are so familiar with this product, can you answer my question above? What frequency do these devices use to 'carry' the streaming around the household mains wiring? Are they like the Comtrend devices which use 2-30 mHz? Ta.

except you can enable encryption, so nobody will be tapping in.

given that any hacker would need to access a power point within range of your household circuit (i.e. next door) this is infinitely more secure than WEP 'protected' wireless networks that can be hacked by anyone with a mobile device.

I have the Netgear AV set (200mbps) and they work great for streaming 1080p around the house - something that just didn't work with WiFi. 1gbps would be a nice upgrade and the price isn't bad at all.

I notice that Belkin have one model on a recall for not being safe and meeting EU regs! Another quality fire-starter product to leave plugged into the house mains NOT!

And yes @fbloggs the bloody things are known to interfere with lots of legitimate services. Will only take one important radio signal to be blocked for all kinds of legal action no doubt in the US who seem to protect users from errant crap like this blocking valuable radio spectrum.

There is some perfectly good stuff called "wireless / WiFi" which works well and wont burn your house down :-)

Defiant said,
I notice that Belkin have one model on a recall for not being safe and meeting EU regs! Another quality fire-starter product to leave plugged into the house mains NOT!

And yes @fbloggs the bloody things are known to interfere with lots of legitimate services. Will only take one important radio signal to be blocked for all kinds of legal action no doubt in the US who seem to protect users from errant crap like this blocking valuable radio spectrum.

There is some perfectly good stuff called "wireless / WiFi" which works well and wont burn your house down :-)

1. in the 2 years of using this technology, i've yet to have my house burn down or any of the units to even get hot to the touch

2. how does a closed circuit wired network interfere with radio?
3. since when has wifi been "perfectly good". I've always found it pretty slow in comparison with other solutions, generally unreliable and unsuitable for streaming media.

get your facts straight before spouting effluent on forums

ZombieFly said,
2. how does a closed circuit wired network interfere with radio?

This is just the problem - the household mains wiring is definitely not a 'closed circuit', it is inherently an un-balanced system and will act as an antenna. The Comtrend devices use a carrier signal in the HF spectrum (2-30 mHz) and this signal DOES radiate digital noise 24/7 up to 500 yards from the installation. A Radio amateur or Short Wave Listener, or Military users of the 5mHz band, in the vicinity of one of these has the enjoyment of his hobby completely annihilated, or his professional comms. Ofcom has investigated complaints and required the removal of these devices where found.

I am not saying these Belkin devices use HF frequencies, but the specification pdf downloaded from Belkin site does not say WHAT frequencies they use. If they do, in fact, use 'other' frequencies, they they are unlikely to cause problems to any radio service, amateur or professional. This is what I am trying to find out.

Can anyone tell me what frequency is used to carry the signals through the mains wiring?

There are similar devices made by a company called Comtrend which are distributed by BT (British Telecom) here in the UK, to extend their broadband networking through the household mains. The problem is they use frequencies in the HF shortwave radio spectrum (2 - 30 mHZ) and can radiate interference for many hundreds of yards from the installation. These devices carry a CE mark but have been proven to not meet all relevant specs.

As a licenced radio amateur and short wave listener I am very concerned at the proliferation of any device which may add to the spectrum noise on HF, thus making communications difficult at best and impossible at worst.

Thank you

Alan

can you use more than one pair in the same setup? do they know not to interfere with one another?

I have a pair already (old style) and it works great...!

macf13nd said,
can you use more than one pair in the same setup? do they know not to interfere with one another?

Yep. But you would be limited to your lower speed with data that passes through any one of the old pair.

Latency is not bad, especially in newer models (100Mbits specs). I have found it to be more reliable than wireless, but not necessarily faster. If I am really far from the router then it is indeed faster than wireless.

I have a small switch connected to the adapter (linksys brand) and there I connect the Xbox 360, PS3 and Tivo.

The Apple TV I have it wireless but using the 5.8 Ghz band, it is very close to the router and it gives me better speed than the ethernet.

Streaming from the Home server to the PS3 and Xbox 360 works well for HD movies. The lag I experience has more to do with the transcoding process in a not so powerful computer than because of the network itself.

Does it work with a single power extension cord (Not a UPS or Surge protector)?

Let's say if you didn't want it visible on the wall, but it still has it's own plug, just via a single extension. I don't like "blocks" visible on my wall in the lounge.

Encryption is in the spec, and Belkin at least has (had?) a utility for setting an encryption password for your system.

Ok, so these things act like a bridge? I put one next to my router, connect an RJ-45 cable from my router to it, and then install those nearby equipment to be plugged to the network, is that it?

Could be useful, but I'd consider using some kind of encryption, especially in an apartment. You don't know if the electrical wires are correctly separated, that could be the case in older buildings.

I've never heard of powerline before. How does it work? Internet through the electrical wires? Does that mean that if I just plug in my computer to a connecting electrical wire, I get automatic internet?

It is not Internet through powerlines, and it does not mean that you can get internet by just plugin in the computer.

The Homeplug Alliance wants to make this main stream enough that it will be included with devices. For example a Tivo that you would plug into the wall and it automatically connect to the internet through your HomePlug enabled network / router.

For more information you can go to

http://www.homeplug.org/home

I think that the main problem is that the adapter needs to be plugged in directly to the wall for it to work well. It has it's own surge protection embedded. The problem with enabling this in devices such as Computers. Tivo's, Blu-Ray players, Media Center's etcétera is that usually these devices will be plugged into a UPS, and that breaks the network. I don't know of any "HomePlug enabled UPS", though it would be a great device. in the meantime, plug in one next to your router and one next to your home theater run a network patch cord from it to your router and a switch on your home theater part and voilá, instant wired network on you home theater.

Okay....so it's internet -> router -> Powerline adapter -> electrical wire -> computer.
Seems kinda like how I pictured it. =/ Except without the whole Homeplug enabled stuff.

i have the older model and its fantastic highly recommend getting this stuff if you cbf running a cable through the wall to your room or using wireless which is not as reliable this is awesome takes you 30 seconds to plug everything in and it works off the bat.

I had both the Netgear powerline adapters and found them both to be crap (54mbps and 200mbps). In the end I ran an ethernet cable down.

Im still of the opinion you can beat a dedicated clean cable

the best solution out there is to run a cable. Cheap to do but annoying to do properly. Homeplugs offer a good alternative if you can't/won't drill up your walls and floors