The Belkin Gigabit Powerline kit is another way of communicating between your Internet capable devices. Through the powerline already installed in your home, you can now avoid all the excess wiring when plugging in your network capable devices to your router. For example, instead of all the wiring connecting your router (which might be situated in a different room) to your game console, you can now connect the Belkin Gigabit Module in your living room and have your router setup in your upstairs bedroom, and it can be connected through the internal powerline wires. The starter kit includes 2 Gigabit Powerline modules, two networking cables, installation CD and a manual to help you setup. For security, it uses a 128-bit AES link encryption with key management for secure powerline communications.
1. Plug one adapter in a room where you want to have network access and the other in a room where you have network access.
2. Connect the network cable into the RJ-45 on the back of the first adapter and connect the other end of the cable to your network capable device such as a computer.
3. Connect the network cable into the RJ-45 of your second adapter and connect the other end of the cable into one of the LAN ports on your router.
4. Adding more adapters is straightforward. Just plug the adapter into the wall socket and connect the network cable into the RJ-45 slot of your device.
OPTIONAL (for greater security)
- Press and hold the “Encryption button” on both adapters for 10 seconds.
- Press and hold the “Encryption button” on the first adapter for more than 0.5 seconds but less than 3 seconds. Press and hold the “Encryption button” on the second adapter for more than 0.5 seconds but less than 3 seconds. Make sure to do this step within 20 seconds or it will not be paired.
- To add more adapters, repeat step #2. Make sure that one of the two adapters is already connected to the network and paired with the other adapters.
Distance is limited to a maximum 300 meters for optimal performance. That is 300 meters of electrical wiring and not the actual distance between the two adapters. Ideal transmission rate is 1000 Mbps, but because of interferences, network traffic and building materials, the actual transmission rates are lower. We tested in an office environment with multiple circuit breakers in place but on the same floor within 300 meters. Test was done in various locations around the office, but because some of the locations have made the Powerline Link LED off, we omitted these in the results. We used a program called IPERF which tests the speed of the Ethernet connection over IP. This program must be installed on both computers. Configuration for the testing is as follows.
CONFIGURATION FOR WINDOWS 7
- Determine if your Ethernet adapter supports automatic crossover. What this means is that if you do not have a crossover cable, you can plug a straight through Ethernet cable directly into each PC and have the wire behave as if it was a crossover cable. Either way, connect your respective Ethernet wire into the Ethernet port on one of the PC.
- Connect the other end of the Ethernet wire to the Belkin Gigabit module.
- Repeat step #1 & #2 for another computer.
- Open “Network & Sharing Center” on the computer. Click on the “Unidentified Network” located between the “Home Computer” and the “Internet”.
- A yellow popup appears “Network discovery and file sharing are turned off. Network computers and devices are not visible. Click to change…”. Click on this popup then click on “Turn on network discovery and file sharing”. A popup appears asking you for either a “No” or a “Yes”. Click on “No”.
- Now you should see 2 computers appear. One computer is your own and the other computer is the one you are connected to.
Iperf is a program that tests the connectivity between two Ethernet links through IP. One computer acts as a server and the other as a client. Data is transmitted for 10 seconds and the speed is measured using the size of the data sent. This is what we will be using to test the speed of the link.
- Open the command line (cmd.exe) on one of the computers.
- Type in ipconfig*
- On one of the PC find the directory where the IPERF.exe file is.
- Type iperf –s
- On the second PC type iperf –c ip_address_of_first_computer**
*Note that because there is no DHCP server, the windows automatically assigns an IP address. This is typically in the range 169.254.x.x. Test for connectivity by pinging each computer. Make sure that each computer is able to ping each other. If you are unable to ping each other, check firewall settings.
**To find the ip address of the first computer, type in “ipconfig” at the command prompt. The auto configured IP address will appear.
Below is Iperf in action. Note that it sends approximately 104, 857, 600 kb through the Ethernet link to the other computer. Also note that this computer is acting as the client as denoted by the iperf –c 169.254.242.87.
At this point, the connection will be established and packets will be sent from one computer to another.
The results vary and are dependent on certain factors including the Ethernet adapter and the motherboard. Ethernet adapters vary in speed. They come in 10Mb, 100Mb and 1000Mb. Also each manufacturer has different software that tells the hardware how to translate the network data. Another factor is the bus speed of the motherboard. Putting these two factors into play, the value of 1000 Mbps might not be reached. The value obtained by connecting the computers together and using iperf to measure the speed will act as a reference point of which to measure the Belkin Powerline Ethernet.
The fastest connection was without the Belkin Gigabit Module with a speed of 339 Mbps. When the Belkin Gigabit module was used, the speed decreased to 38 Mbps. This is a substantial decrease in speed. The speed of 340 Mbps was acting as the reference point so that any PC factors including the motherboard chipset and the network adapter would not come into play when discussing the differences between the values. With this in mind, the Belkin Gigabit did not deliver even close to the speed of 340 Mbps. The speed has decreased 89% to about 38 Mbps even when using the same wall socket. Although the speed has reduced dramatically, in real situations, the network connectivity in most homes are usually not that high. For example Bell’s Internet plan Fibe 25 offers 25 Mbps download speeds. In this situation, the powerline adapter will reach these speeds if the network usage isn’t that high. The bottleneck factor is 38 Mbps. Overall Belkin claimed up to 1000 Mbps, we only received up to 38 Mbps.