Power Networking — Ethernet, that is.

I have an ongoing problem with network access from my desktop computer.  There’s no way to pull a network cable to it, so I’ve been using a wireless network card.  That should be OK, but I often get degraded network performance if the microwave is on and, from time to time, the network card loses touch with the router.  It happens so frequently, in fact, that I run a script every two minutes that pings the router and, if it can’t be found, restarts the network card.  An article in the New York Times suggests going back to a wire — the power line.

I’ve been poking about on NewEgg and found a LinkSys system. It appears that the adapters are reasonably priced, especially if I compare it to replacing the current wireless card with 802.11n card and upgraded router. But what about security?  The specs say that the signal will not pass through a transformer, but that’s not sufficient.  It looks like several houses on our alley are served from a common set of wires.  Each transformer handles six to eight houses, if not more.

 

The product documentation isn’t really clear on this, at least for the Linksys system, above. The adapters use 128 bit encryption to talk to each other, but it seems that they automatically generate the handshake, so any adapter within range on this side of the transformer could join the network.  I’d feel a lot more comfortable if I generated the keys for each adapter and set them via a controlled, password protected interface.  It looks like I have to do some more research.