How Power-line Networking Works

Cost And Installation

To install an Intelogis PassPort power-line network, you plug a wall device like this into an outlet.
To install an Intelogis PassPort power-line network, you plug a wall device like this into an outlet.

Intelogis provides a kit that connects two computers and one printer for $59. Additional adapters cost about $40. There are specific versions for computers or printers, so make sure you get the correct one. Since the network does not affect power usage or consumption, no additional monthly costs are incurred.

The cost of PowerPacket technology is expected to be comparable to HomePNA solutions and significantly less than 802.11 wireless solutions.

The physical connection between each computer and the Intelogis power-line network uses the computer's parallel port. A wall device is plugged directly into the electrical outlet (it will not operate properly if plugged into a surge protector).

A parallel cable is plugged into the wall device and into the parallel port of the computer. The power-line network must be the last item connected to the parallel port. For this reason, if you have anything else connected to the parallel port, such as a scanner or Zip drive, it must have a pass-through for the parallel port. Unless you have a second parallel port on your computer, your printer must be connected to the network through a wall device of its own. Something to keep in mind is that current power-line networks do not support bidirectional printing. "Bidirectional" means that data is sent in both directions, allowing your printer to send information back to your computer, such as how much ink is left and if there is a paper jam. This will not keep your printer from working, but it is worth noting that you will lose the use of such features.

Initial PowerPacket devices connect via a USB or Ethernet cord from the computer to a small wall adapter. Subsequent devices will have the circuitry built in, meaning the only connection needed would be the power cord.

Once the physical connections are made, installation of the software is a snap. The software automatically detects all nodes (computers and printers) on the network. Whether your Internet connection is by cable modem, DSL or normal modem, the included proxy server software allows you to share the Internet with your other computers. You can easily add computers by simply plugging a new adapter in and installing the software. Additional printers can be added using the printer plug-in adapter. File and printer sharing is done through Windows.

There are two common types of home networks: peer-to-peer and client/server. Client/server networks have a centralized administrative system that provides information to all of the other devices. Peer-to-peer means that each device can talk directly to each other device on the network without consulting a central system first. Intelogis Passport technology uses a client/server network. The first computer that you install the software on becomes the Application Server. In essence, it is the director of the network, controlling the flow of data and telling each device on the network where to find the other devices. Intellon's PowerPacket technology uses a peer-to-peer network.