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By Andy HuttICT expert

Frustrated about weak broadband signals around the house? Our ICT guru shows you how to get switched on to modern technology… literally

Man with laptop

Access the internet from the comfort of any room in the house

According to last year’s Ofcom report, more than half of UK adults have broadband at home. What Ofcom didn’t mention is how many of these people have had problems trying to share that broadband connection around the house. My guess is that it could run into the millions.

Irritating interruptions

Many people use a wireless router to transmit and share their broadband connection around the house. In theory, the wireless router can send the internet signal to computers anywhere in your home. In theory… The trouble is that a wireless signal is a delicate and fragile thing and easily prone to interruption. If you have a house with thick walls or you want to use your PC some distance from the wireless router, then you can often find the signal disappearing on you. And that can be very frustrating if you’ve just clicked on a button labelled ‘Place order.’ Did that order get through? Should I try again or will I be buying it twice? you ask yourself.

DIY research

Actually, I’m describing the situation I was having in trying to access a wireless signal reliably and regularly in an upstairs room. It was time for a little research…

One answer was to run a cable from the router to the room in which I was having trouble connecting. But it involved using Ethernet wiring and trailing cables around the house. Not really an elegant solution. ‘Ah,’ I thought. ‘Wouldn’t it be good if homes had internet cabling already installed?’ It was then that I discovered they apparently do!

The claim is that the electrical wiring in our houses makes perfect internet cabling – when used with home plug technology. These ‘home plugs’ are special network adapters that plug into the electrical sockets and use the existing electrical wiring to transmit the data.

Too good to be true?

It all sounded too good to be true… With some scepticism, I bought a dLAN 200 AV HomePlug kit by Devolo. It consisted of two biggish blue plugs (the adapters) and a couple of cables. The box said I’d be up and running within one minute. Hmm, heard that before… To my surprise, it took exactly that long – one minute.

I unpacked the box and plugged one adapter into the spare socket by the router and used a cable to connect the adapter to the router. Upstairs in the room that couldn’t get wireless, I plugged in the other adapter to a spare socket and used the other cable to connect to my PC. Lights on the big blue plug adapters flickered away and within a few seconds my PC was telling me I was connected to the internet!

Does exactly what it says on the box

So, if you are looking to set up a home network without installing complex Ethernet cabling, home plug technology could be a simple and effective answer for around £80 for the high-speed starter kit. The only downside is the extra cost and the fact that the manufacturers recommend that the adapters should be plugged directly into the main sockets rather than extension cables, so spare wall sockets are essential.

Technology that worked out of the box as promised? I still can’t quite believe it…