Power Ethernet

Plug sockets that easily adapt your mains wiring for data transmission

Image: Hugh Threlfall

Funny how technology progresses. When WiFi appeared, it was revolutionary, liberating computers. A few years on, with ultra-fast broadband and multiple users sucking up bandwidth in both offices and homes, it’s often the network’s bottleneck. It’s not just that the WiFi becomes overloaded, slowing everyone down; the vagaries of ultra-high-frequency radio (which is what WiFi is) mean interference problems and weird stuff such as impenetrable walls can wipe out your network for random periods ranging from seconds to hours.


So, wired networks are starting to seem attractive again. Rewiring a whole building with ethernet cables is absurdly disruptive and expensive, however, so there’s been interest in reviving a decades-old idea – piggybacking data on your existing mains wiring. A lot of the cheaper plug-in gadgets for this are fine for a phone extension, but balk at streams of heavy data. These neat new British power sockets with built-in data ports are a revelation then, fine tuned and filtered as they are for data – but requiring no extra wiring. You can install as many as you want in most buildings. Almost as good as dedicated network cables and about 100 times easier to install.