Subscribers to BT's Vision IPTV service will no doubt be quite familiar with Comtrend's PowerGrid 902 Powerline adapters as you get a pair of these thrown in when you sign up. There's one very good reason why these are supplied as they are designed to be extremely easy to set up so reducing the likelihood of a support call.
All you do is plug them in to a standard wall socket and let them create an Ethernet network by hitching a ride on your existing premises electrical cabling. These chunky units score over a number of other Powerline solutions as they incorporate a pass through socket so you can plug other devices or even power strips into them. However, don't connect them to anti-surge equipped power strips with EMI/RFI filters as these can affect operations.
We can see why BT uses these adapters as they are, indeed, remarkably easy to install and use. One of the units is designated as an Access Point (AP) and this effectively acts as a bridge between other PowerGrid adapters and your main network and Internet connection. You simply plug the first one in and connect it directly to your Internet router or modem where it defaults to accepting an IP address from a DHCP server.
The first unit needs to be configured as an AP and to do this you press the reset button until the AP/Standby LED flashes. Thirty seconds later and we had our first adapter ready to go. Only one AP is allowed to exist on the Powerline network and all other adapters are configured as EPs (End Points). The next adapter is then plugged in next to your PC or other network device. Timing is everything now as on the AP you reset the configuration again and whilst its AP light is flashing you reset the second adapter.
This process only took a few minutes and with both adapters now talking to each other our test PC received an IP address plus Internet access from our router where the AP adapter was connected. Three status LEDs are provided showing whether the adapter is an AP, the status and activity for the Ethernet connection and the speed of the connection. To save power you can press the standby button and the unit will switch itself off.
Communications between adapters are secure as all traffic is encrypted using 3DES or the stronger 128-bit or 256-bit military grade AES standards. As with initial installation, there's nothing you need do here as all key generation and exchanges are handled automatically during the setup phase. If you do add further adapters, you go through the same process of resetting the AP and following with this procedure on each new unit.