Extending the reach of Wi-Fi networks has become important with the rise in number and spread in usage location of Wi-Fi clients in a typical household. Typical range extenders sacrifice some performance by communicating with the main router using the same channel used for its clients. Late last year, we had evaluated various backhaul technologies being adopted in this space. Wi-Fi as a backhaul medium worked great in our particular evaluation location. However, there are scenarios in which Wi-Fi signals get attenuated very quickly (say, houses with thick brick or concrete walls). In those cases, powerline communication may present a better backhaul option.

At CES 2017, TRENDnet is launching the TPL-430AP wireless access point. They will be selling it under the 'WiFi Everywhere' tag. The product uses HomePlug AV2 technology. In particular, it adopts the Qualcomm Atheros QCA7500 chipset with V2 MIMO powerline operation in the 0 - 68 MHz band. The product also includes a built-in dual-band AC1200 access point (2x2:2 802.11ac/b/g/n, with 867 Mbps in the 5 GHz band and 300 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band). It also has two Gigabit LAN ports.

An issue with some of the powerline Wi-Fi extenders in the market is the appearance of a whole new SSID and putting the onus on the customer to replicate the Wi-Fi settings from the main router (which could be from a different vendor). TRENDnet fortunately recognizes this issue and has a WPS-like setup to clone the Wi-Fi settings from the main router for simpler setup.

Consumers purchasing the TPL-430AP are already expected to have a HomePlug AV2 already in their network. Otherwise, TRENDnet also offers the access point as part of a kit - the TPL-430APK includes the TPL-430 as well as the TPL-421E (a HomePlug AV2 1200 powerline adapter that has a built-in passthrough outlet).

The wireless access point with powerline backhaul, as well as the kit, will be available in early Q2 2017. While the TPL-430AP will have a MSRP of $125, the kit will retail for $175.

In other TRENDnet CES news, a number of new USB-C adapters are also being launched - welcome news for the USB-C ecosystem.

Source: TRENDnet

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  • snakyjake - Friday, January 6, 2017 - link

    How is Powerline usage different than mesh (besides for using the electrical wiring)?

    Is powerline better than wifi for backhauling?

    Does the Powerline do seamless handoffs, or does the signal drop?

    Do I always get connected to the fastest access point, or what happens when there's multiple access points within range?
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    'Powerline' and 'Mesh' are orthogonal terms. We can talk 'Powerline' vs. 'Wi-Fi' because both are using just different media to transmit data. Mesh refers to the way in which different nodes are connected. Usually, in powerline, the path from one node to the other is decided by the electrical wiring topology. In Wi-Fi, there is more flexibility because different nodes can interact with each other using different paths at different times.

    In our evaluation (1800 sq. ft. California residence built in the 1970s), Wi-Fi turned out to be far better than powerline for backhaul. However, the same might not be the case for an east coast building / European / Asian houses (built with brick walls and lots of concrete).

    Powerline can do seamless handoffs also as the last feet delivery in these cases is still Wi-Fi. Qualcomm's Wi-Fi SON firmware features (that include the seamless handoff features) are also available on the HomePlug AV2 chipsets used by TRENDnet.

    The access point to which you get connected depends on proximity as well as current load on that AP. Wi-Fi SON is meant to provide the best user experience for a particular scenario. So, it is not always that you would get connected to the fastest AP, as the definition of fastest might change from time to time even in the same network.
  • zlandar - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    Powerline varies way too much depending on the location/wiring of your home. I guess it's better than nothing but this is going to be far inferior compared to a MOCA-based backhaul.
  • ganeshts - Monday, January 9, 2017 - link

    For sure.. but not everyone has a cable outlet in every room that needs a end-point. Coax wiring is just not as prevalent or ubiquitous as electrical wiring is, and it will never be - just as Ethernet wiring will never be as prevalent as coax, and never will be.

    However, the technical performance advantages of coax wiring is undeniable.

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