Toy Box: All power to the network

As the power dries up a Christchurch company has found another use for your electrical wiring - as a ready-made data network. But, of course, it's not that simple: Bender Infotech's imported device requires electricity to make it work.

As the power dries up a Christchurch company has found another use for your electrical wiring — as a ready-made data network. But, of course, it’s not that simple: Bender Infotech’s imported device requires electricity to make it work.

Apart from that slight deficiency, the PowerLAN 16 seems truly miraculous. As the documentation claims, the modem-size device — actually, you need one for however many PCs you’re trying to network — merely requires plugging into a power point, with an ethernet cable connecting it to a PC. Your network then extends to wherever you have an electrical power point — no software required.

I used it to share a DSL connection. That required plugging one Power LAN box into the DSL router, selecting the device’s “hub” setting. The second device was carted downstairs and plugged into an antique Apple Mac that hadn’t done anything more strenuous than play basic games for a few years. To my pleasant surprise, despite having a browser so old that every website threw up numerous error messages, I was able to begin surfing the net on the Mac via the shared DSL connection.

Bender spokesman Damon Rutherford says the company has been bringing in small quantities of the devices from a US manufacturer to gauge demand.

He says there’s been a positive response to the product, which sells at $436 for two, and he’s working on creating a sales channel.

The company also imports devices which turn every power point into a telephone jack point, for $171 for base plus extension, with additional extensions costing $85.50. The phone devices are teleper-mitted, but the Power-LANbox, because it doesn’t connect to the phone network, doesn’t require a permit.

If you want to know more, try www.powerlinecomtech.com.

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