When Wi-Fi Isn't the Answer

Carl Weinschenk

There are so many long- and short-distance networking technologies and standards that it is understandable that some folks are confused. Indeed, even people whose job it is to track this material don't always know their Zigbees from their Bluetooths (or Blueteeth?).

That's why it's a bit refreshing to read a well-written and useful explanation of at least one corner of what is going on. The post, written by Casey Johnston at Ars Technica, discusses alternatives to Wi-Fi for home or small office networking.

This topic should be of interest to all IT staffs. For SMBs, the work-arounds could conceivably come into play in their main offices. Enterprises won't likely use them in the headquarters, but could employ them in smaller, remote locations and for teleworking employees to use at home.

Wi-Fi can be hard to use when competition from other users becomes too great. A wired network can be thrown up as an alternative, but it may be inconvenient or not permitted. Ars Technica looks at two alternatives-powerline networking and multimedia over coaxial cable-that can distribute signals to dispersed devices. The piece goes on to describe the pros and cons of the approaches, which seem to be fairly similar. The MoCA Blog offers some very handy videos-with nice music, to boot-on how to create a network using the MultiMedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) standards.

Connected Planet reports that HomePNA-the trade group for use of in-home wiring to distribute signals-has added Fast Ethernet over Coax (EoC). This, the story says, is an approach that is aimed at multi-dwelling units (MDUs). Fast EoC, as it has been labeled, can reach 320 Megabits per second (Mbps). The story says that the new spec could make HomePNA competitive with MoCA.

The MDU market appears to be one that is especially appropriate for the two technologies since wireless spectrum figures to be especially scarce in those denser environments. TVTechnolgy, meanwhile, reports that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has approved IEEE Standard 1775, which is a standard for test and measurements in the world of broadband over power line (BPL). The new rules also address electromagnetic compatibility, which, roughly speaking, is the creation and transmission of unwanted signals.

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