Powerline communication (PLC) uses existing electrical wiring to transmit data over short distances. It is a method of home networking that works over ordinary power lines, without the need for installing dedicated network cables. A variety of different PLC technologies exist, which operate in different parts of the radio spectrum and at different data rates. Some operate over a single level of wires (premises wiring), while others can cross two levels (both distribution and premises wiring). Most nations regulate unshielded wired transmissions to limit interference with other wireless communications services, so most systems only use selected portions of the frequency spectrum that do not interfere with broadcast radio or cordless phones.
Powerlines are used for data communications between computers, printers and other devices that have Ethernet ports. In addition to computers, tablets and smartphones, this includes set-top boxes from providers like Apple TV, Sky and BT TV, smart speakers, video gaming consoles and security cameras. The technology can also be used to extend a wired home LAN into areas where Wi-Fi performance is poor or non-existent, or to add network connectivity to devices that cannot receive a wireless signal.
To create a powerline network, two special adapters need to be purchased and plugged into power outlets in the home. The first adapter is connected to a router, while the second connects an Ethernet-ready device, such as a computer or television. When both adapters are in operation, the connection is established internally over your existing electrical wiring, which typically offers better speed than wireless connections because it does not have to fight interference.