Gadget review: Power Ethernet Socket

£102 from www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk; for more information see www.powerethernet.com

Wi-Fi is wonderful when it works. Like some kind of digital snake charmer, it sends information through walls, supplying emails and entertainment to any computer in the vicinity. However, wireless internet is not immune to stubbornly thick walls, airborne interference or hack attacks – which is where the Power Ethernet Socket comes in.

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In the box you get what looks like any other dual plug socket, the trade being that one side of the socket has four Ethernet ports on it. In a nutshell, you replace two conventional power outlets with two Power Ethernet sockets, connect a broadband internet router to one and you’ve got a wired mesh network without any extensive re-wiring in sight. The technology inside is quite ingenious; the Powerline Communication (PLC) system essentially piggy backs on to the AC electrical signal carried on a power line, surfs this down the line to the next socket and some smart jiggery-pokery then politely separates the two signals before sending one to the Ethernet socket and one to the power socket. This PLC surfing system can be used for transmitting more than just emails; it also supports Ultra Wide Band, Audio, HDMI, Triple-Play Services and Smart Metering signals. I’m reliably informed that Smart Metering is the future of electricity monitoring – no more knocks on the door to read the meter, and Triple-Play is a digital sandwich of high bandwidth services such as streaming videos with low bandwidth ones like Skype.

Speedwise, the Power Ethernet sockets can supply 200mbps, which should be plenty to keep up with even fibre-optic broadband connections such as BT Infinity and Virgin Media which tend to max out at around 80mbps. In English this means that the sockets will laugh in the face of even HD video streaming activity. At the best part of £100 each, Power Ethernet is a professional solution for supercharging the cables already running through your walls.