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Chapter 6. Powerline-Based Home Networks > INTRODUCTION TO POWERLINE COMMUNICAT...

INTRODUCTION TO POWERLINE COMMUNICATIONS

For several decades, researchers have attempted to use AC powerlines to create a communications network. Since almost all electronic devices already connect to AC powerlines for the electricity they need to operate, it seems only logical to develop a technology that would send data signals over the same wires. Considering that a vast majority of people in the world, even in developing areas, already live in homes with pervasive access to electrical outlets, such a technology would provide a quantum leap forward in the mass-market proliferation of IT and communications products. Using electrical wires seems logical and efficient. Traditional communications networks, such as phone lines, cable television, and computer data networks, use dedicated wiring designed specifically for communicating information. Powerline networks, on the other hand, were designed to deliver electricity, not data signals. This difference is not trivial. The highly variable and unpredictable levels of impedance, signal attenuation, and noise combine to create an extremely harsh environment that make high-speed data transmissions over powerlines very challenging.

The following sections provide an overview of these technical obstacles and present some of the strategies that different developers are using to overcome them. But first, we will define the powerline network and present a background of how this industry has developed.


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