Phoneline networking is the often-overlooked alternative to Ethernet wiring a home. It is generally less expensive, faster and more secure than comparable wireless systems, but it will work in virtually any home in the world, provided it is wired for analog telephone service.

Although it doesn’t have the allure of the mobility or wireless, nor does it have anywhere near the level of hype surrounding recent wireless products, it is a viable alternative for home and small office networking for basic file sharing and Internet connectivity.

HomePNA 2.0 Standard

The dominant standard today for phoneline networking, and the second standard to emerge from the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance, is appropriately dubbed HomePNA 2.0. For a brief description of HomePNA 2.0, check out last month’s wireless vs. phoneline networking article. As we have said, the standard is labeled "10 Mbps", but there is widespread confusion regarding the actual performance capabilities of these networks.

Take note of this paragraph from the last article:

The actual data rate of a HomePNA 2.0 network is in fact not 10Mbps, however; this number was chosen as a rough equivalent to its standard IEEE 802.3 10 Mbps Ethernet cousin. Technically, it operates at a variable rate of either 2Mbaud or 4Mbaud and on a variable 4-256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation). Put simply, this means that the system can operate on any data rate between 4Mbps and 32Mbps. According to several sources, under ordinary conditions, a HomePNA 2.0 link will be at or slightly above 16Mbps.

As we saw before, the performance of this standard can be noticably higher than the performance of the 11Mbps 802.11b wireless standard, and even faster than 10Mbps Ethernet in most circumstances. HomePNA 2.0 also offers a great upgrade path as it is backwards compatable with all HomePNA 1.0 devices and should be forward compatable with the upcoming "100Mbps" HomePNA 3.0. But it's not really 10 Mbps.

Why the 10 Mbps label?
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