One of our clients recently had a requirement to extend their existing internet access to a garden-office annexe that was detached from their main house.
Running a cable from the router to the computer equipment in the annexe would have been technically the best solution, but the cost of digging a trench and running an external cable would have been prohibitive (ie over £1,000).
A cheaper option would have been to install an external wireless access point at the side of the house with the antenna directed at the annexe, but given the construction of the annexe (ie thick brick walls) there was the chance that the signal strength within the annexe would have been weak and unreliable.
Another wireless option would have been to to create a wireless bridge between the main house and the annexe as shown in the diagram below.
This option would also have been a good solution, but there would have been significant costs in terms of equipment and labour in running the cables and mounting the external wireless bridge devices. We estimated the costs at about £500.
When connecting premises that are up to 10 km apart a wireless bridge is in fact an excellent low-cost solution compared with the alternative of asking BT (or another service provider) to provide telecommunications and internet services to those premises.
In fact the wireless bridge solution would have been our preferred solution, but for the fact that there was a mains electrical connection linking the annexe to the main house. This enabled us to use the existing mains electric cabling to provide internet access in the garden-office annexe for less than £150.
This solution is known as HomePlug (or PowerLAN).
A HomePlug solution comprises at least two mains adaptors: a primary adaptor and up to 15 slave adaptors.
The primary adaptor connects via a patch cable to one of the ethernet ports at the back of the existing internet router. It also plugs into a convenient a mains electrical socket. The slave adaptors plug into convenient mains sockets in the areas where internet access is required.
There are different types of slave adaptor. For the annexe we chose a slave adaptor that combined the functions of a wireless access point and a 3 x port ethernet switch.
This provided wireless access in the annexe together with the ability to connect wired devices such as a printer, a PC and a network storage device. The diagram below shows the solution that we deployed for our client.
In recent years HomePlug devices have increased the speed and range over which they operate so that they can now support data intensive services such as video streaming and gaming.
Homeplug will never be able to beat the speed or security of a direct cable connection or the convenience of a standard wireless connection. However, in home or office premises where there are wireless coverage black-spots and installing cabling would be too expensive HomePlug should be considered as a viable and cost-effective alternative.
Get in touch with Premitel if you have a specific requirement or if you wish to discuss how your business could make better and more cost-effective use of its existing telecommunications and internet infrastructure and services.