Management Assistance Program

A Home WiFi Alternative That Works Like Magic? (August 31, 2020)

A tipster told me tales of a device described as almost magical for working online from home. This device allowed you to stay connected even when the home WiFi was down. It allowed you to bypass the home WiFi when others in the house were in peak bandwidth hogging mode. This modestly priced device could be a great improvement for many working from home whose WiFi setup doesn’t work perfectly, often because of home construction issues.

This device doesn’t work for everyone, but it is a great way to avoid internet interruptions for many.  I won’t be a customer because I purchased an Eero mesh WiFi system a few weeks ago which made a big difference. (See prior tip on mesh WiFi systems.)

These devices are ethernet over powerline adapters.

I reached out to John Simek, Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a managed IT service provider, digital forensics and managed cybersecurity firm located in Fairfax, VA for an explanation

“Basically, an ethernet over powerline adapter uses the electrical wiring in your house as if it were ethernet cabling,” said Simek. “Using ethernet over powerline adapters totally bypasses the WiFi network so you are not fighting for bandwidth with other WiFi devices or family members. There is no guarantee that ethernet over powerline adapters will solve all your connectivity problems or be a faster connection than Wi-Fi. There are rare cases where the adapters do not connect or have significantly slower speeds, primarily because of the way the electrical power cables were installed in your residence. Even though there is no guarantee, the majority of users will see speed and stability improvements.”

“For $50 you can’t go wrong and can always return the device if there is no improvement,” Simek noted.

Online searching will locate many options like this one used by some friends: TP-Link AV1000 Powerline Ethernet Adapter.

The devices come with instructions and you will likely need an extra couple of ethernet patch cords.

“You plug one unit into an electrical outlet near your router and use an ethernet patch cord to connect the adapter to an Ethernet port on your router. Plug the other ethernet over powerline adapter in an electric outlet near your computer and use another cord between the ethernet port on the computer and the adapter,” said Simek.