HomePlug powerline networking Archive

A “homeplug” with Power Over Ethernet now for the British market

Article – from the horse’s mouth

Solwise

Value – Solwise HomePlug 500AV with Power over Ethernet – PL-500AV-POE (Product link)

Previous coverage of similar devices

At last HomePlug AV and Power-Over-Ethernet in one device

My Comments

Previously, I had written an article on this site about Asoka releasing a HomePlug AV-Ethernet bridge that provides power to connected devices using the 802.3af Power-Over-Ethernet technology. This adaptor, which is available to fit US power sockets, can use the one Ethernet cable to power an access point, VoIP telephone, IP camera or similar device as well as being a data conduit to that device.

Now Solwise in England have raised the ante with this class of device when they offered one that plugs in to UK power outlets and sold to the UK market. Here, the PL-500AV-POE implements the HomePlug AV500 technology rather than the HomePlug AV technology on the powerline network side of the equation. If the HomePlug segment is based around HomePlug AV500 hardware, it could lead to higher data throughput speeds which would benefit high-resolution IP surveillance cameras or 802.11n access points.

The same company ask GBP£59.80 including VAT for this device but they are not short on Ethernet devices that can be powered from this “homeplug”. Here, they have a single-band 802.11g/n dual-stream access point that looks like a smoke detector for GBP£73.25 or a dual-band dual-stream 802.11a/g/n access point for GBP£189.14. There is also a basic “dome” IP camera for GBP£144.02 or a traditional-style auto-zoom camera for GBP£167.17 for a country that places emphasis on video-surveillance.

What I see of this is that at least some more manufacturers are raising the game for HomePlug powerline devices that integrate 802.3af or 802.3at Power-Over-Ethernet technology in a way as to underscore the fact that the powerline network and the Power-Over-Ethernet technology complement each other rather than exist as competing technologies.

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First HomePlug AV2 adaptors on the market from Linksys

Article

Linksys Fields First HomePlug AV2 Adapters – SmallNetBuilder

From the horse’s mouth

Linksys

Product Page

My Comments

Linksys has launched in to the US market the first HomePlug powerline network kit that is based on the new HomePlug AV2 technology.

This kit, which retails for USD$119.99 is based on two HomePlug AV2-Gigabit Ethernet bridges. These use the “Single Input Single Output” application of this technology and can sustain a HomePlug link speed of 500Mbps similar to the HomePlug AV / IEEE 1901 “AV500” technology.

But these implement the “three-wires” setup using the US three-prong plug thus working along with other HomePlug AV2 technologies to create a more robust segment. Of course, they would be compatible with HomePlug AV 200 and AV 500 segments and may work at lowest link speed. They also implement the “Simple Connect” push-button setup routine which has been implemented since HomePlug AV so as to create secure unique segments or join HomePlug AV2 devices to existing segments easily.

The Ethernet connection on these devices is a Gigabit Ethernet which satisfies realities like desktop and laptop computers being equipped with Gigabit Ethernet connections. It also allows these “homeplugs” to work in a future-proof manner with high-end routers, next-generation broadband and the cost-effective Gigabit desktop switches.

Personally, I would consider paying the extra premium for this kit if I was dealing with setups where HomePlug network reliability may be questionable. Similarly, I would pay this same premium if I was intending to link that bungalow to the main house’s home network or setting up a temporary wired network in a café or bar.

This could be a sign of things to come for the HomePlug powerline network technology as a flexible network technology.

{ HOMEPLUG AV + 802.11N WI-FI WIRELESS + GIGABIT ETHERNET (where affordable) = AN IDEAL SMALL NETWORK]

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Understanding HomePlug AV2

Just lately, we are starting to see the arrival of HomePlug AV2 powerline network technology in the form of network-connectivity devices. This is now due to the standard being “set in stone” and the chipset manufacturers running significant quantities of the circuitry required for these devices.

It will initially come in the form of the typical “homeplug” which is a Ethernet bridge which is able to connect one Ethernet device to a powerline segment based on this technology. But as it evolves, expect to see the access points, multiple-Ethernet-connection switches, routers and the like appear.

Devices that are based on this technology could lead to a more reliable HomePlug powerline segment. It will underscore the flexibility that this powerline-network technology is all about in a lot more applications including multiple-building home networks and use in commercial properties.

In this report, when I am talking of HomePlug AV, I talk of the 200Mbps original HomePlug AV technology whereas when I talk of HomePlug AV500, I talk of the 500Mbps HomePlug AV / IEEE 1901 technology that has been recently issued. Both of these are compatible with each other but work at the speed of the lowest technology.

Key features for a robust HomePlug AV2 segment

HomePlug AV2 has been provided with a slew of improvements that deal with tricky applications of this technology and provide for increased network reliability.

One user group that may benefit would be anyone who has anything to do with commercial-type premises or large multiple-tenancy buildings. Here this could be someone who is setting up a temporary or semi-permanent wired network for something like a POS system or a network printer or a situation where one moves in to a building where cost or lease / occupancy conditions preclude the installation of new Ethernet cabling.

Each HomePlug AV2 device is a repeater

With HomePlug AV2, each device that is part of the same Segment also works as a repeater which improves signal reliability across the HomePlug AV2 segment. This effectively “boosts” the data stream across the AC wiring thus improving signal-noise ratio with environments that have increased device noise; or long-wire links like between buildings.

This may avoid the need to create an extra HomePlug AV segment and linking this via Ethernet to the existing HomePlug AV segment in order to “push out” data over a long inter-building electrical run.

Use of the three AC wires rather than two

Similarly, HomePlug AV2 setups make use of the earth (ground) wire along with either the live (active / line) or neutral wires as part of creating alternative wire pairs for data transfer. This is compared with HomePlug AV and IEEE 1901 (HomePlug AV500) which uses just the power-wire pair (live and neutral wires). It allows for alternative reduced-noise paths to be used for HomePlug AV2 segments which can be a bonus with commercial and industrial environments.

Multiple In Multiple Out technology

This feature extends to implementation of Multiple In Multiple Out technology, commonly used with 802.11n and 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networks. In this application, data can be sent along two or more of the three wire pairs at the same time to provide increased reliability and link speed. This is leading to an “on-paper” link speed of nearly 1000Mbps or “gigabit” throughput, which is why a lot of these HomePlug AV2 devices will implement Gigabit Ethernet as their Ethernet connections.

Of course, there will be a fallback to 500Mbps theoretical link speed for SISO links implemented mainly with some first-generation or cheaper HomePlug AV2 devices and with “power-wires-only” links like inter-building runs. This is due to the fact that each building will most likely have its own earth point for its AC supply.

Other technologies like “efficient notching”, wider media bandwidth and improved modulation also create increased robustness and data-transfer efficiency in the HomePlug AV2 link.

Power-efficient HomePlug AV2 hardware

The implementation of “HomePlug Green PHY” technologies which implement sleep mode and beacon-driven wake activity allows for the HomePlug AV2 devices to be increasingly power-efficient.

This matters more if you simply deploy one or more of these devices as simple “infill” repeaters or as network off-ramps that serve other segments or devices. It will also benefit low-traffic HomePlug AV2 segments which have to be available but don’t see consistent use.

Implementation issues

HomePlug AV2 devices can exist on the same logical HomePlug segment as HomePlug AV or HomePlug AV500 devices and will typically use the “Simple-Connect” push-button setup routine that is now common.

A question that is yet to be answered is whether HomePlug AV2 devices will bring the same kind of robustness to a segment that is made up primarily of HomePlug AV or AV500 devices. This encompasses availability of data from network clients connected to HomePlug AV2 devices at clients connected to HomePlug AV devices and vice versa.

If you are offered that first-generation HomePlug AV2 “single in single out” device which runs a 500Mbps link. you may think that you could cut it cheaper with a HomePlug AV500 device. The HomePlug AV2 device may be more relevant for those of you who want increased reliability when establishing a HomePlug powerline segment in commercial premises, linking outbuildings or funky old “sleepout” caravans to the home network using the AC wiring or facing a troublesome HomePlug powerline segment.

HomePlug AV2 is definitely a technology worth looking forward to for more than just the regular suburban home. It is something that underscores the powerline network’s flexibility as a “wired no-new-wires” network in a more robust way as well as adding data throughput to this technology.

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nVoy–to simplify managing small networks

Website – From the horse’s mouth

nVoy home

My Comments

WD MyNet Range Extender

With nVoy, these devices become easier to set up and integrate in your network

There have been some previous methods available to allow one to manage a network from their desktop. One of these was SMNP which is used primarily to manage equipment in larger networks and is very difficult for anyone to use unless they had good IT skills. Another of these is TR-069 which was developed by the Broadband Forum for use by ISPs and telcos to set up and manage consumer modem routers.

These protocols, like a lot of other network discovery and management protocols relied on an operational network existing between the controller and the controlled device. Similarly, they haven’t work well as a way to allow an average householder or small-business owner to manage a small network effectively and with minimal help.

But a newer specification, known as the iEEE 1905.1 control specification had been set in stone and declared formal. It is now marketed as the nVoy specification and works at a level to manage network segments at the media level.

This is very important with the home-network setups that I prefer and stand for where there is an Ethernet and/or HomePlug AV wired network backbone along with an 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless network segment covering the property where the network is set up at.

This allows logic to be constructed to manage a Wi-Fi, HomePlug AV, MoCA or Cat5 Ethernet segment that is part of the typical home network without having to have a full IP logical network being alive across the whole network.  It also means that media-peculiar network-setup and diagnostics parameters like the ESSIDs and WPA2-Personal passphrases required for wireless networks can be propagated over different network media like Ethernet or HomePlug wired-network segments.

This simplifies setup routines like creating new Wi-Fi wireless or HomePlug AV powerline segments in a secure manner; or adding additional network devices to the existing heterogenous multi-segment small network. It even encompasses the establishment of secondary access points in order to extend the coverage of a Wi-Fi wireless network in a “cellular” fashion.

The user experience would be based on using NFC “touch-and-go” setup or two-button “push-push” setup of new Wi-Fi and HomePlug devices. As well, you would be able to manage the network from devices that use a full management interface, whether local to the network or remotely via something like TR-069 or SMNP.

Even through the life-cycle of the network, the nVoy specification can allow one to use a management interface at one single point of control to bring up diagnostic information about the network or parts thereof so as to identify points of failure or to optimise the network for best performance. The fact that nVoy is determined as a standard could allow computer operating-system developers to bake this function in to subsequent versions of their operating systems and establish one point of control in the operating system user interface.

Beyond the ease of setup and troubleshooting that it offers for small networks, nVoy has the ability to enable easy-to-manage “multiple concurrent pipe” connections in an easy-to-manage form. This allows for two or more connections to be aggregated for higher throughput, as a load-balancing arrangement so that particular traffic can go via one connection while other traffic goes via another connection as well as a fail-over arrangement if things don’t work out on one pipe. This will be more real with the common practice to equip most client devices with two or more network “on-ramps” such as Ethernet and Wi-Fi wireless.

Personally, I would also like to see nVoy work with most client devices in extending their network abilities. For example, a network printer or consumer AV device that has integrated Wi-Fi wireless and a wired connection like Ethernet or HomePlug be able to allow you to set up the Wi-Fi connectivity as an access point if it is connected to the network via the wired connection. Similarly, the same device could be set up as a wireless client bridge for another device like a PS3 or Blu-Ray player that is connected to the Ethernet socket on the device when it is connected via the wireless connection.

Similarly, the nVoy specification could also tackle quality-of-service for IP telephony, AV streaming and real-time gaming so as to guarantee throughput for these network activities. As well, when standards evolve for synchronous “broadcast” network activity on the different media such as for multi-channel wireless speakers or party-streaming modes, nVoy could be used to support network-wide synchronising abilities for these applications.

What I applaud about nVoy being set in stone is that the small network becomes easier to manage whether it is based on one segment or medium or uses many different segments or media.

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Buffalo offers a HomePlug AV500 and Wi-Fi N300 kit that can work as a router

Article

Test 59H: Kit CPL Powerline 500AV Wireless-N Router Starter kit (France – French language)

From the horse’s mouth

Buffalo Technology

Product Page

My Comments

Buffalo Technology are offering to European customers a HomePlug AV500 / Wi-Fi N300 access point, known as the WPL-05G300, which isn’t just a HomePlug / Wi-Fi access point for that existing small network. Here, this device doesn’t just allow you to also connect to an Ethernet segment but can be set up to become a wireless router while serving the other Ethernet segment. This is due to two Ethernet connections on the same device

The fact that it can become a router may please some users who may use a broadband modem like most cable-modem deployments and some next-generation broadband and ADSL2 deployments. But the router functionality would be considered irrelevant to most European users who typically run a modem-router which has the integrated Wi-Fi functionality.

Personally, I do see this device still relevant as the secondary access point to “fill in” those Wi-Fi reception gaps such as what is created in older European properties that use thick brick, cement or stone walls. This also includes a lot of the UK properties that have remnants of fireplaces that have been blocked off.

What I am pleased about with this device is that there are switches on the unit to select between the router and access-point mode and similarly to select between client-bridge and access-point behaviour. I am not sure if this is true but this could allow for “quick setup” of extension access points through the use of WPS.

This device is available as a pair of two of these access point / router devices which could come in handy as a way to create that HomePlug segment and increase Wi-Fi coverage or create a 802.11g/n “N300” Wi-Fi segment. Similarly, the kit could also answer outbuilding network needs or encompass that old caravan in the home network. Caravan-park owners could also lick their lips at this setup with the ability to provide reliable wireless coverage in their tenants’ vans.

Who knows who else will offer similar devices that can capitalise on HomePlug AV technologies to create capable no-new-wires small networks.

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Integrated HomePlug AV Ethernet switch with power outlet

Article

Homeplug AV socket by Power Ethernet offers slimline speedy home networking – Recombu

From the horse’s mouth

Product page

My Comments

There is another way that the HomePlug technology is being taken further in the UK. Here, this device resembles a regular UK double power outlet and is installed in a regular double-gang wall bracket.

But you have a single 13-amp UK power outlet plus a 4-port 10/100 managed Ethernet switch. It then connects to a HomePlug AV 200Mbps powerline network segment that rides on the existing ring-main wiring. Business users who value functionality like VLANs can benefit from the Ethernet switch being a managed type.

The Website pitched this unit as being a network on-ramp or off-ramp for a HomePlug AV segment and cited applications like historic buildings where modifications to power outlet locations may be against the heritage-protection rules for these buildings.

Personally, I would recommend this kind of outlet to be compliant to HomePlug AV2 and would be best suited to projects where you are reorganising power outlets in a room or building. In the home, it would be more applicable for locations where a cluster of computing or audio-video equipment would exist. I would also value it as being useful for caravans or temporary buildings or, for that matter, any outbuilding application.

Similarly, the “Power Ethernet” unit could be made available with an integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi access point for “infill use” in covering wireless-network black spots but it is easy to think of this device as being something that can provide HomePlug in a semi-permanent manner.

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A HomePlug AV 500Gbps switch–now with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports

Articles

ZyXEL To Ship 500 Mbps Powerline Switch | SmallNetBuilder

From the horse’s mouth

Zyxel press release

My Comments

Gigabit Ethernet is now becoming the order of the day with most current desktop and laptop PCs as well as network-attached-storage units being equipped with such a port. This is being taken further with routers having to be equipped with Gigabit Ethernet LAN (and WAN) ports in order to be considered fit for next-generation broadband Internet. This situation is also augmented with basic 5-port and 8-port Gigabit Ethernet switches now becoming more affordable.

At the moment, most HomePlug AV-Ethernet switches have been equipped with Ethernet ports that can work to a link speed of 100Mbps. This wouldn’t work in an optimum manner if you are connecting Gigabit-Ethernet-equipped computers to a HomePlug AV segment.

What Zyxel have done now is that they have announced a HomePlug AV Ethernet switch, the PLA4225, that uses Gigabit Ethernet ports as well as working to the unqualified 500Gbps extension of the HomePlug standard. This could allow you to provide a proper high-throughput HomePlug AV on-ramp for your desktop or laptop computer; fully-compliant next-generation-broadband “edge” router and NAS with these devices working at speed.

This is also in conjunction with them releasing the PLA4205 “homeplug” that works to the same powerline-network standard but uses a single Gigabit Ethernet socket.

Personally, what I would like to see for all of these 500Gbps HomePlug AV devices is that they are able to work to the full HomePlug AV2 standard once it is ratified and a proper firmware update is delivered.

But what I am pleased about is that the Ethernet connectivity of this HomePlug hardware is up to standard for people who use next-generation broadband Internet services with the proper routers.

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Devolo dLAN® 200 AVpro DINrail–a fixed HomePlug AV bridge for integration to a circuit-breaker board

Press Release – German language

devolo präsentiert ersten dLAN®-Hutschienenadapter für Smart Home- und Smart Metering-Anwendungen

Product Page – German language

dLAN® 200 AVpro DINrail … Produktbeschreibung … devolo AG

My Comments

Devolo have just released the dLAN 200 AVpro DINrail HomePlug AV-Ethernet bridge which is intended as a “built-in” HomePlug AV on-ramp.

Here, this unit is Intended to be installed by a professional electrician and is installed in a circuit-breaker board that works to the standard “DIN-rail” mount. When installed, there is an exposed Ethernet socket for connection to Ethernet-ended network equipment.

The main applications that this unit is being pitched at are energy-monitoring / control applications, especially with “smart meters” that have an Ethernet connection. In the same context, it could work with network-enabled HVAC equipment that uses an Ethernet connection but is direct-wired via the AC supply via an isolating switchboard.

It can then also apply to other integrated-wiring installations where you may want an Ethernet connection local to the power switchboard. An example of this could be a broom cupboard under the stairs which has the house’s main switchboard. Here, it could be tempting to hide the network-Internet “edge” equipment in that area and install the HomePlug “on-ramp” there, even if there is Ethernet or Wi-Fi access to the main Internet service available around the house.

Another example that would be relevant to HomePlug AV installations on larger properties is “pushing out” HomePlug AV coverage to remote buildings as I have explained here. This is where you have two different HomePlug AV segments connected via an Ethernet link and two of these Devolo DINrail units could be mounted in the garage’s or barn’s isolating switchboard and linked with a short Ethernet cable. Of course, one would be linked with the main HomePlug segment and the other to a unique segment that serves the barn and any buildings or caravans wired off it.

Other applications also include installations like some previous HomePlug backbone setups based around Devolo dLAN hardware that were used in a few German schools. Here, these installations used HomePlug as the network backbone.

It might also be easy to think of using this unit to build a “network-ready” isolating switchbox that is closed up. Here, a patch cord from the Devolo dLAN 200AVPro DINRail bridge’s Ethernet socket could be run to an Ethernet socket mounted on the side of the box, so as to connect up network-enabled equipment local to that switchbox.

An improvement that I would like to see for this unit would be a SimpleConnect button on the front of the unit so that customers can quickly associate regular HomePlug AV devices to this unit while keeping it as a “reference” unit for the segment that it is part of. This could be defeated through software for “smart-meter” environments and other environments where you don’t like the customer to “detach” the unit from an established network.

At least this unit could appeal to those of us who want the “integrated” HomePlug AV solution for our home networks. In addition, this could become a piece of kit that local “sparkies” could have available for sale and installation, especially if they cater to the connected home or small business.

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HomePlug as part of a home-vehicle network for electric and hybrid vehicles

Articles

Your BMW wants email; the Merc wants Netflix | ITworld

HomePlug GP Networking Specification | The Tech Journal

My comments

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance have cemented the “Green PHY” standard for energy-efficient powerline networking and energy management in stone,

Now the major German vehicle builders have defined a power connection standard to connect their electric or plug-in-hybrid vehicles to the mains power supply for charging. This includes using these HomePlug standards for transferring required data between the vehicle and the host power supply for charging-process control, metering and other similar applications.

The core benefit is to achieve a successful level playing field for connecting these vehicles to the “smart grid” for overnight and rapid charging. This also includes particular requirements like costing of energy used by “guest vehicles”, road-tax implications as well as grid integration such as off-peak charging or vehicle-to-grid setups for offsetting energy peaks.

This also facilitates IP linking to the Internet service via this connection thus allowing for some possibilities beyond the “obvious Internet applications”. One application I have often thought of in this context is the ability to integrate the vehicle’s infotainment system in to the home network.

Here, it could lead to synchronisation of maps, contact lists and media files between the home network and the vehicle or the ability to simply benefit from the data held on the vehicle’s infotainment system in the home network. This would be the networked equivalent of bringing a tape or CD that was in the vehicle’s glovebox or sound system in to your home so you can play it on your music system there.

At least there is an attempt to achieve a level playing field across the vehicle industry to support electric vehicles while catering for flexible setups.

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Product Review–Western Digital LiveWire HomePlug AV kit

Introduction

I am reviewing the Western Digital LiveWire HomePlug AV kit, which is a pair of Ethernet switches that also have HomePlug AV connectivity. Here, this kit is being pitched at people who want to connect Internet-enabled video equipment to the home network and Internet connection without laying down new wiring to the router.

Western Digital LiveWire HomePlug AV Ethernet switch

Price:

Recommended Retail Price AUD$169.99 for a two-unit kit

LAN Connectivity

Connectivity for each unit
Ethernet 4 ports
HomePlug HomePlug AV  SimpleConnect

The device itself

Setup

Western Digital LiveWire HomePlug AV Ethernet switch connected

The HomePlug switch as connected up

The Western Digital LiveWire kit is able to be used in a “plug-and-play” manner with a secure HomePlug AV segment.

There is the ability to create a separate HomePlug AV network segment by you pressing the “Simple-Connect” buttons (labelled SYNC) on each device one after another quickly. Here, you don’t have to think of new network identifiers or device passcodes for each of the member devices in this segment.

Performance

This unit can demonstrate a good level of resilience to known interference like switch-mode power supplies or electrical motors on the same circuit and yield a useable HomePlug connection. It may initially yield a low connection speed until the link is assessed by each HomePlug device on each end. This is more so with links that are on different circuits and may show up heavily on older electrical installations.

Of course, the HomePlug AV segment created by these devices worked properly alongside an existing HomePlug 1.0 Turbo (85Mbps) segment that has been working as the main household HomePlug segment for the network. As I have known before the segments that work on the different HomePlug standards aren’t compatible but can coexist as separate segments.

As well, unlike some cheaper Gigabit Ethernet switches that I have used, this kit works properly with UPnP devices like the WDTV Live network media adaptor which I tested it with. Here, it worked as expected for media playback from the Internet and my WD MyBook World network-attached storage which worked as a UPnP AV media server.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The WD LiveWire units could benefit from the SYNC button and HomePlug light working to a proper cadence especially when integrating another HomePlug AV device to the same segment. This is more so if the network setup involves multiple established devices scattered around the house.

As well, there could be a variant model released that uses a four-port Gigabit Ethernet switch which can be of benefit if the switch is to be connected to two or more devices like a network-attached storage and a recent-issue computer. It would also be of benefit if the switch is to serve as a HomePlug AV “on-ramp” for a Gigabit-Ethernet equipped router or Ethernet backbone. This may not happen until HomePlug AV2, which is a higher-throughput HomePlug standard, is properly ratified.

Similarly, there could be a variant of this switch that can be an 802.3af / 802.3at compliant Power-Over-Ethernet power supply for four devices that get their power over the Ethernet cable. This would come in handy with those IP telephones, network-based surveillance cameras and access points that work to this standard for network-based power.

Of course, you may not expect much from a company whose interest is more on storage devices rather than network infrastructure hardware.

Conclusion

I would still recommend this HomePlug AV kit as being suitable for use when connecting a cluster of network-connected equipment like Internet-enabled home-entertainment equipment to the home network. The fact that both the HomePlug AV adaptors come with integrated multi-port Ethernet switches can increase their utility value such as increasing Ethernet points with routers that have Ethernet ports that are all used up including single-port routers like most entry-level ADSL modems.

Similarly, one of these units can be used as part of a setup for bridging data between a legacy HomePlug 1.0 segment and a HomePlug AV segment or “pushing out” a HomePlug AV segment on a country property by creating another HomePlug AV segment. With these units, this can be done while maintaining Ethernet connectivity for network devices at these points.

Declaration Of Benefit

After I have reviewed the WD LiveWire HomePlug AV kit, I offered to buy the actual review sample units from Western Digital via their PR agency and they sold it at around 30% off the recommended retail price. This has not affected and does not affect my relationship with this company or how I review their products.

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