Welcome to Reviews OnLine: Intellon PowerPacket Technology
Intellon PowerPacket Technology
10 Mbps network using existing wiring
by Stephen Jones (June 28, 2000)


If the potential installed base is any indicator, Intellon's PowerPacket technology has a chance to go from obscurity to celebrity overnight. You see, Intellon has come up with a way to reliably package data so that it survives the undulating waves and spikes of the ride through your unmodifed home power wiring. This could mean that every home or office building is a sleeping local area network waiting to be woken up.

Of course, powerline transmission of data has been promised for years, but Intellon claims to show practical results of field tests across both North America and Europe.

And those trials have been successful enough to make Intellon's technology the basis for the HomePlug Powerline Alliance's network specification (see HPA story). So, at least 40 other companies (many household names) think PowerPacket technology is the Next Big Thing in personal networking.

And why not? PowerPacket technology has demonstrated 11 Mbps throughput over a wide variety of wiring conditions and Intellon's latest recommendation is to increase that to 14 mbps (faster than traditional Ethernet). Intellon claims that data rates up to 100 Million bits per second (Mbps) may be possible.

Another nice feature is that PowerPackets use a different frequency from X-10, CEBus, and Lonworks devices, so interference is no problem. Likewise, surge protectors and UPS power units won't garble your data. In addtion, the protocol uses 56-bit DES encryption to keep your private data from being broadcast all over the local power grid.

The applications for ubiquitous data access are immense. For instance, S3's Rio Audio Group is already talking about building digital audio players that grab tunes off your music serving PC from any available wall outlet.

Pervasive, simple-to-use technology tends to have profound effects on our daily lives. We'll have to wait and see if Intellon's PowerPacket technology becomes the next digital dial tone we come to depend on.

Copyright 2006 Stephen Jones All rights reserved.

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