Will Power-Line Networking find Enterprise/Industrial Applications?

Power-Line Networking has grown by leaps and bounds recently and currently available power-line adapters in the market provide a bandwidth of up to 500 Mbps. The concept of transmitting data using the standard power cables at home/office has been picking steam over the years and currently power-lines have become a viable competitor to wired/wireless networking connections at home. Power-line adapters basically deliver broadband connections over power-lines.

A number of companies already have products that enable power-line networks, today. All one needs to do is, buy a couple of power-line adapters, plug it into electrical socket(s) and connect network devices using the built-in RJ-45 port available in the power-line adapters. That’s it, your power-line network is ready!! There is no need for cables or Wi-Fi adapters. The power-line network that uses electrical cables maybe sufficient even for high-speed/high-bandwidth demanding applications like music/video streaming.

Power-Line network products are mostly inter-operable. HomePlug and IEEE 1901-2010 standards enable power-line adapters manufactured by different vendors to work with each other. It is possible to network multiple power-line adapters together and it is also possible to connect multiple network devices to a single power-line adapter. As you can guess, there are different types of power-line adapters.

While power-line adapters seem to be getting a good hold in the home-networking segment, especially in cases where there is no existing wired or wireless connectivity, the question we need to be asking ourselves is: Will they find enterprise/industrial applications?

It might be slightly difficult for power-line networking to find enterprise applications because UTP Cables/Optical Fiber cables/Wi-Fi Access Points are available almost everywhere and these have become mainstream technologies. When it comes to enterprise adoption, it is not only technology but other factors like security, performance, partner/technology eco-system and support, play a big role. But then, power-line adapters might shortly penetrate the enterprise starting with small/remote branch networking applications, and such.

However, in segments like manufacturing, hospitality, education, etc., power-line networks might have a bigger role to play. There are many large industries/organizations that are spread over miles together. It is quite expensive to network every single location, and the cost is not justified when there are only a few computers accessing the network from the remote locations. Since power-lines are laid everywhere (by default), why not look at power-line adapters to connect computers/other devices to the network, instead of laying expensive optical fiber cables at every nook and corner?

However, the kind of applications that need to be accessed from these locations/the number of users accessing the network through power-lines are two important factors that play a role in deciding whether to go with power-line networks, or not.

The point of this article is: Why not (also) consider power-line networks to connect remote locations to the network in enterprises, industries and other organizations? Power-line networks do have their limitations, but they can be advantageous if used at the right location and for the right application.

Further Reading: Wikipedia article on Power-line Networking.

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