ZyXEL Communications PLA-470 V2 - V3.0.5 Installation guide

Power Line Communications
in Practice
For a listing of recent titles in the Artech House
Telecommunications Library, turn to the back of this book.
Power Line Communications
in Practice
Xavier Carcelle
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
A catalog record of this book is available from the Library of Congress
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 13: 978-1-59693-335-4
Cover design by Igor Valdman
Translated from the French language edition of: Réseau CPL par la pratique by Xavier
Carcelle. ©2006 Groupe Eyrolles, Paris, France.
Ouvrage publié avec l’aide du Ministère Français chargé de la Culture—Centre National du
All rights reserved. Printed and bound in the United States of America. No part of this book
may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without
permission in writing from the publisher.
All terms mentioned in this book that are known to be trademarks or service marks have
been appropriately capitalized. Artech House cannot attest to the accuracy of this information. Use of a term in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To Yves, Françoise
Organization of the Book
PLC Technologies
Standard Organizations
What Kinds of Standards Are There?
Consortiums and Associations
Toward a Standardization of PLC Technology
Future IEEE Standard
Future Interoperability Standard
Advantages and Disadvantages of PLC
PLC Theory
Architecture of Electrical Networks
Characteristics of Electrical Wiring
Modeling Electrical Networks
Architecture with a Shared Medium
Public Networks
Private Networks
Analogy with a Network Hub
The Concept of PLC Repeaters
Layered Architecture
The Physical Layer
Frequency Bands
Network Mode Functionality
Master-Slave Mode
Peer-to-Peer Mode
Centralized Mode
Transmission Channel Functionalities
Access to the Medium Using CSMA/CA Techniques
The ARQ (Automatic Repeat Request) Process
Synchronization and Frame Controls
Managing Frame Priorities
Managing Frequency Channels (Tone Map)
Segment Bursting and Contention-Free Access
Frame Level Functionalities
MAC Encapsulation
Fragmentation Reassembly
Other Functionalities
Dynamic Adaptation of the Bit Rate
Unicast, Broadcast, and Multicast
Service Quality
Overview of Network Security Issues
Public-Key Cryptography
Mixed-Key Cryptography
Electronic Signatures
Use of Public Keys
The Hash Function
Security for PLC Networks
Access to the Physical Medium
Access to Physical Frames
Network Keys
IEEE 802.1x and Improvements to PLC Network Security
Virtual Private Networks
Physical Layer Frames
Architecture of the Physical and Data Link Layers of HomePlug AV
The OFDM Interface Frame
OFDM Symbols
Frequency Band Use for HomePlug AV Devices
Functional Blocks
Differences Between HomePlug Frames and 802.11b Frames
The PLC Physical Frame
MAC Layer Frames
MAC HomePlug 1.0 Frames
MAC Header Format
Format of an Encrypted MAC Frame
Format of Control and Management Frames
PLC in Practice
Voice, Video, and Multimedia
Telephony over PLC
Visioconferencing and Videoconferencing
PLC Local Networks
Internet Connection Sharing
File and Printer Sharing
Audio Broadcasting
Recreational Applications
Video Surveillance
Backbone of a Wi-Fi Network
InternetBox and PLC
New Applications for PLC
PLC in Industry
PLC in Public Spaces
PLC over Coaxial Cable
PLC in Motor Vehicles
Economic Perspectives
PLC Technologies
Master-Slave Mode
Peer-to-Peer Mode
Centralized Mode
PLC Modems
PLC USB Modems
PLC Ethernet Modems
PLC Cable TV Modems
PLC Modems Integrated with Electrical Outlets
PLC/Wi-Fi Modems
Multifunction PLC Modems
PLC Audio and Telephone Modems
Methods for Accessing the Medium
Direct Tap Methods
Transformers and Meters
The Cost of PLC
Frequency Bands
Regulation of Radio Frequencies
Electromagnetic Compatibility and Frequency Bands
Topology of Electrical Networks
Single-Phase Wiring
Three-Phase Wiring
Wiring in an Electrical Network
The Circuit Breaker Panel
Attenuation on an Electrical Network
Choosing the Topology for a PLC Network
Propagation of the PLC Signal
Effects of Interference on the Electrical Network
Network Data Rates
Useful Throughput Calculation
Maximum PLC Actual Data Rate
Data Rate Variation
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 or Turbo Network
Configuring a PLC Network Under Windows
Configuring a HomePlug AV Network
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 PLC Network Under Linux
Configuring a HomePlug AV PLC Network Under Linux
Configuring a PLC Network Under FreeBSD
Configuring an HD-PLC Network
Configuring a DS2 Network
Configuring Network Parameters
Review of Network Parameters
Configuring Network Parameters Under Windows XP
Configuring Network Parameters Under Linux/BSD
PLC in the Home
Electrical Security
Choosing a PLC Technology
Choosing Equipment
Placing Devices on the Electrical Network
Configuring Security Parameters
Configuring the PLC Gateway
Configuring PLC Security
Testing Operation of the PLC Network
Configuring an Internet Gateway
Sharing the Internet Connection
Configuring NAT and DHCP
PLC for Businesses
Network Architecture
Supervising a PLC Network
Choosing a Standard
Choosing Network and Electrical Equipment
Service Quality
Access to the Electrical Medium
Placing Equipment
Choosing the Network Architecture
Security Parameters
Security Topologies
Configuring PLC Security
VLAN (Virtual LAN)
Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
Installing and Configuring a PLC Repeater (Bridge)
VoIP Under PLC
Sample Implementation of PLC in a Hotel
Network Implementation
Configuring a DHCP Client Under Linux
Configuring a DHCP/NAT Server
NAT (Network Address Translation)
PLC for Communities
Electrical Networks for Communities
Electrical Network Operators
Topology of Electrical Networks
Topology of MV Networks
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
PLC’s Position Within the Network Architecture
Constraints of the Electrical Network for PLC Architecture
PLC Architecture
Issues in Electrical Networks
Choosing Equipment and Technologies
Supervision of the PLC Distribution Network
Configuring the Network
Examples of Small, Medium, and Large-Scale PLC Networks
Hybrid PLC
Coexistence of Multiple Networks
PLC Technologies Between Themselves
Coexistence of PLC and Wi-Fi
Coexistence of PLC and Wired Ethernet
Advantages and Disadvantages of Network Technologies
Optimizing Network Architectures
Example of an Optimized Architecture
PLC and Wi-Fi, a Perfect Couple?
Web Sites
Books and Articles
About the Author
Since the emergence of the first power line communication (PLC) products in early
2000, PLC technologies have been steadily undergoing great improvement, the aim
of which has been to deliver optimum performance. Today, PLC has reached maturity and achieved performances comparable to the other LAN technologies, but
with the added advantage of being much easier to deploy.
PLC makes it easier to broadcast any type of data within a whole building,
including video over IP services proposed by the ISPs in their latest offerings. ISPs
are willing to include the maximum number of IP applications in their offers on any
type of terminal using the Ethernet interface to communicate with other terminals
and the Internet.
The current lack of an IEEE standard imposes the HomePlug technology as a
standard defacto, due to the amount of equipment already in use in the world
(reaching 15 million at the time of printing). A working group at IEEE is about to
finalize the first draft for a PLC standard with high performances, which is secure
and complies with the EMC allowed in a domestic environment. The problem of
interferences with Ham Radio technologies has been solved using a smart notching
technique within the common sub-bands of frequencies.
The PLC devices’ market will continue to grow in the near future with the
integration of PLC interfaces (Wi-Fi, Ethernet, cable TV, and so forth) to be able to
target the needs and aims of both network engineers and telecommunications
Organization of the Book
This book presents the PLC technologies from all perspectives, ranging from the
theory to the practical applications, in addition to being an installation guide for
PLC networks targeting individuals, professionals, and corporations.
The author and the different contributors have produced the best pedagogical
content enabling potential installers and users to master the techniques used in PLC
technologies that are the nexus of electrical networks and computer networks. The
many figures included in this book illustrate the different case studies, and exemplify the means by which network engineers can solve any problems arising while
deploying PLC networks.
The book is divided into thirteen chapters, in two discernible parts:
Chapter 1. Introduction. This first chapter covers the history of PLC technologies and presents the work carried out by the different working groups (alliances, industrial groups, and so forth) leading their development.
Part I. PLC Theory. This part focuses on the characteristics of the electrical
and computer networks and details the different functionalities proposed by
PLC to stream the data by all possible means to the end user.
Chapter 2. Architecture. This chapter describes the characteristics of the electrical networks by emphasizing their correlation with the common models
used in telecommunications.
Chapter 3. Functionality. The complete set of functionalities allowing the
optimal data communications on the electrical network are listed in this chapter.
Chapter 4. Security. PLCs do not suffer from the same security issues as do the
Wi-Fi networks. However, some security measures have to be set up on PLC.
Chapter 5. Frames. This chapter provides a complete description of the data
frames transmitted on an electrical network.
Part II. PLC in Practice. This part covers all the practical implementations of
PLC, from the context of domestic users or professionals to Internet access
networks for municipalities.
Chapter 6. Applications. The current Internet access offered by the ISPs
includes increasingly complex applications (voice, data, images, HD video
streaming, and so forth) with good performances in terms of data throughput
and security. This chapter illustrates how PLC networks can fulfill these
Chapter 7. Equipment. The right choice of PLC equipment requires a good
knowledge of the different functionalities implemented in PLC devices, such as
gateways, filters, repeaters, and injectors, as complements to other network
devices. This chapter provides criteria for making an appropriate choice
depending on the function of the different installation constraints.
Chapter 8. Installation. It is important to correctly configure the devices
before installing them. This chapter deals with the problems of installation
that usually arise in order to optimize the position of PLC devices on the electrical network.
Chapter 9. Configuration. This chapter describes the different steps of configuration under different platforms (Windows, Linux, FreeBSD) and for different types of PLC technologies.
Chapter 10. PLC in the Home. Individuals who would like to install a PLC
network in their home will find all the information they need in this chapter,
enabling them to make good choices. In addition, it provides advice on configuration and installation.
Chapter 11. PLC for Businesses. From the SOHO to the large multi-site industrial companies, professionals will find detailed in this chapter the different
steps to take in order to optimize the use of the electrical network as the backbone of their LAN.
Organization of the Book
Chapter 12. PLC for Communities. This chapter focuses specifically on those
communities faced with the issue of providing Internet access in remote
areas. This chapter provides solutions and the architecture principles to be followed in a management project for Internet access using the public electrical
Chapter 13. Hybrid PLC. This final chapter describes the differences between
PLC and other network technologies and demonstrates how the best of each
network technology in a LAN can be used to build up hybrid architectures
that combine PLC, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, cable TV, and PSTN.
I would like first to extend my appreciation to the people at Artech and namely Simon
Pluntree, my editor in chief, and Judi Stone, who have been following and supporting
the project.
A great thanks goes to Michel Goldberg, whom I consider one of the best experts on
standardization in the field of PLC networks. Michel reviewed the content of the book
to ensure the quality of the first chapters and gave his great expertise to achieve such a
Florian Fainelli and Nicolas Thill, who are among the best Linux developers I
know, helped me understand the frame controls for PLC networks from their Wi-Fi
expertise in the OpenWRT project.
I am also indebted to the different people at the PLC devices’ vendors and namely
Werner Fehn at DEVOLO, Andy Barnes at Intellon, Terry Bernstein at Current, and
Frederic Guiot at LEA.
The credits for the figures go to Marie-Helene Phuong for her incredible work concerning the graphic design based on my artwork. Her work will definitely help the readers to fully understand the principles of PLC networks.
The PLC (power line communication) designates a technology that uses the medium
and low voltage electrical network to provide telecommunication services.
Although, since its first applications when the frequency range started at a low
level, PLC is today more commonly used for high-frequency applications, also
known as broadband powerline (BPL).
The electrical network has been used for a long time by producers and distributors of electrical power for the purpose of network monitoring and remote control
at low speed.
Nowadays, an electricity producer or distributor cannot ignore standardization. It is interesting to note that the deployment of electrical networks, their interconnection, and the ever increasing number of electrical appliances have resulted in
the emergence of the first network standardization bodies such as the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).
PLC Technologies
The principle behind the PLC technique is not one that has emerged recently. In
1838, Englishman Edward Davy proposed a solution allowing remote measurements to be taken of battery levels of sites far from the telegraph system between
London and Liverpool. In 1897, he submitted the first patent (British Patent
No. 24833) for a technique for the remote measurement of electrical network
meters communicating over electrical wiring.
In 1950, the first PLC systems, known as Ripple Control, were designed and
then deployed over medium- and low-voltage electrical networks. The carrier frequency was then between 100 Hz and 1 kHz. It was necessary to establish single-directional communications via control signals for the remote switching on and
off of public lights or for tariff changes. The first industrial systems named Pulsadis
appeared in France in 1960. The power involved was approximately a hundred
kilovoltamperes (kVA).
Then the first CENELEC band PLC systems appeared, extending from 3 to
148.5 kHz, and allowing bidirectional communications over the LV (low voltage)
electrical network, for instance, for meter readings (remote meter readings) as well
as for a great number of applications relating to the home automation field
(intruder alarm, fire detection, gas leak detection, and so forth). Much less power
needed to be injected, since the power was reduced to levels of approximately a hundred milliwatts.
The expression “power line carriers,” usually abbreviated to PLC, appeared at
the end of World War II in 1945. By that time, many telephone and electrical lines
had been destroyed and there were more infrastructure electrical lines than telephone lines. For communication purposes, systems were designed for data transmission over high or medium voltage wiring by imitating remote meter readings already
carried out on the electrical lines.
Figure 1.1 illustrates the changes in the PLC technologies classified by speed
since the beginning of the 1990s.
Standard Organizations
The various standardization bodies as well as the concepts of standards and specifications which we will clarify are presented in this section.
The word “standard” covers several types of documents.
There is quite a difference between a norm and a standard, although, in English,
most of the people use the same word: standard.
A “norm” is a document from an international body, such as the ISO (International Standardization Organization). It is sometimes called “standard de jure.” In
the following pages, we will call them “standard.”
Figure 1.1
Low and high speed PLC technologies
PLC Technologies
A “standard” is a document from any national body, such as the IEEE (USA), or
from a Community of States, such as ETSI. To make the difference, it is sometimes
called “de facto standard.” We will call it “specification.”
To give a simple description of the conditions to be fulfilled by a standard, we
refer to the definition given by ISO: “Any document designed for a repetitive action,
and approved by an acknowledged standardization body and being at everybody’s disposal.” It is the result of a consensus.
Depending on the geographical areas, standardization work may be directly
associated with an international level or first be developed at a regional level.
In Europe, standardization is carried out at national, European, and international levels. Each standardization committee is responsible for one or several standardization fields.
There are three international organizations that cover all the fields of knowledge: the IEC, the ISO, and the ITU.
The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and Cenélec (European
committee for electrotechnical standardization) are in charge of electrical engineering and the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) is in charge of
The ISO and the CEN (European Committee for Standardization) cover all the
other areas of activity.
The harmonized international standard terms are used in the background of
so-called new approach European directives to designate European international
standards adopted according to the general directions agreed upon between the
European commission and the standardization bodies within the framework of a
mandate granted by the commission after consultation with the member states.
Figure 1.2 illustrates the fields of activity of each standardization committee in
charge of PLC technologies.
It must be noted that this regional level (here, the region is Europe) does not seem to
exist explicitly in other parts of the world (Asia, the East, and so forth).
Figure 1.2
Standardization bodies in charge of PLC technologies
For European countries, this is a fundamental level since the international standards, the specifications of which will be used as a reference for CE marking, are
written in the European standardization committees.
For a better understanding of the mechanisms for the implementation of international standards in a broad sense, this European standardization organization
should be compared with the existing organization in the United-States.
Citing the “Overview of the U.S. Standardization System” (ANSI, Second Edition, July 2007), the United States is very different from other countries of the world,
where usually one organization is designated as the major standards developer and
that organization is closely tied to, if not a part of, the government. There are many
organizations that comprise the U.S. standardization system, including both government and non-government organizations.
In the United States, there are essentially two broad categories of standards with
regard to regulation—mandatory and voluntary. Mandatory standards are set by the
government and can be either procurement or regulatory standards. A procurement
standard sets out the requirements that must be met by government suppliers; regulatory
standards may set health, safety, environmental, or other criteria.
VOLUNTARY STANDARDS—In the United States, the voluntary standards
development system is called voluntary for two reasons. First, participation in the
system is voluntary. Second, the standards produced are usually intended for voluntary use. Voluntary consensus standards are developed through the participation of
all interested stakeholders, including producers, users, consumers, and representatives of government and academia.
In the United States, the distinction between voluntary and mandatory standards is not clear cut. Often, government standards developers refer in their regulations to privately developed standards, and in that reference give the standard the
force of federal support. Building codes, for example, reference hundreds of standards developed by voluntary standards organizations. Since building codes are the
province of government, the referenced standards have the force of law and must be
adhered to by regulatory agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration, the
Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration. The
Department of Housing and Urban Development also references hundreds, if not
thousands, of voluntary consensus standards in lieu of developing its own documents. These too, have the force of law once they are referenced in a government
regulation. In the wake of the U.S. National Technology Transfer and Advancement
Act (Public Law 104-113), which requires government agencies to use privately
developed standards whenever it is at all possible, this practice is on the increase,
saving taxpayers millions of dollars previously incurred by duplicating efforts in
standards development.
What Kinds of Standards Are There?
There are at least four kinds of standards, based on the degree of consensus needed
for their development and use, based on “The Handbook of Standardization”
(ASTM, April 2006):
PLC Technologies
Consensus among the employees of an organization.
Consensus among a small group of organizations, usually like-minded companies
formed to undertake an activity that is beyond the resources of any one member. An
example of a consortium is the United States Council for Automotive Research’s
(USCAR’s) Strategic Standardization Board, which reflects USCAR’s commitment
to managing standards issues with regard to competitiveness.
Consensus among the many companies within an association or professional society. An example is a standard developed by the American Petroleum Institute (API),
a trade association that is comprised of many different petroleum companies.
May reflect many degrees of consensus. Some are written by individuals in government agencies, many are now being developed in the private sector and then
adopted by reference as mandatory standards. Standards incorporated into federal
regulations under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are examples of government standards.
According to the ISO, an international standard is “any document intended for
a repetitive application, approved by a recognized standardization body and made
available to the public.”
Afnor completes this definition in the following way: “An international standard is reference information resulting from a carefully thought out collective
choice to be used as an action base to solve repetitive problems.”
We must point out that in relation to regulation, an international standard only
defines methods and rules; therefore these are not mandatory, unlike regulations.
As indicated previously, for Europe, the regulatory framework is set by new
approach directives which list the essential requirements that the product must
meet. The harmonized European standards, when in compliance with their requirements, presumably ensure compliance with these essential requirements.
The importance of harmonized international standards is illustrated by the CE
marking. This marking, which allows a product to be circulated freely around
Europe, is a declaration from the manufacturer indicating that its product satisfies
the essential requirements of the European directives concerning it.
The PLC equipment must satisfy the requirements of the EMC (electromagnetic
compatibility) and LV (low voltage) directives.
A distinction should always be made between the work on the product and the
work relating to the system, to the network in the case of PLC. To date, the work
carried out on the product amends the CISPR 22, international publication,
whereas, the work concerning the network is exclusively European and is dealt with
by the Cenélec/ETSI Joint Working Group.
This work aims to make available a harmonized international standard on networks following the M 313 mandate given by the European commission to the
Cenélec and ETSI. This international standard is not aimed at limiting the deployment of wired networks but at limiting their interfering emissions.
After five years of trying to find a consensus, and noticing that it is almost
impossible to define wired network radiation limits, it was decided to abandon the
idea of publishing an international standard for this network, focusing instead on
the international standard of the product.
In the meantime, in April 2006 the commission published a recommendation
defining a legal framework at the request of the entire PLC community. This text
recommends that member countries remove any barrier to the deployment of PLC
networks; in return, the installers, equipment manufacturers, and Internet access
providers undertake to comply with the requirements of the EMC directive and to
use any remote mitigation method in the event of confirmed disturbance over a
given frequency.
Extracts from the European Recommendation of April 6, 2005
1. Member States should apply the following conditions and principles to the provision of publicly available broadband powerline communication systems.
2. Without prejudice to the provisions of points 3 to 5, Member States should remove
any unjustified regulatory obstacles, in particular from utility companies, on the deployment of broadband powerline communication systems and the provision of
electronic communications services over such systems.
3. Until standards to be used for gaining presumption of conformity for powerline
communications systems have been harmonized under Directive 89/336/EEC,
Member States should consider as compliant with that Directive a powerline communications system which is:
• made up of equipment compliant with the Directive and used for its intended
• installed and operated according to good engineering practices designed to meet
the essential requirements of the Directive.
The documentation on good engineering practices should be held at the disposal
of the competent national authorities for inspection purposes throughout the time
the system is in operation.
Where it is found that a powerline communications system is causing harmful interference that cannot be resolved by the parties concerned, the competent authorities of the Member State should request evidence of compliance of the system
and, where appropriate, initiate an assessment.
If the assessment leads to an identification of non-compliance of the powerline
communications system, the competent authorities should impose proportionate,
non-discriminatory and transparent enforcement measures to ensure compliance.
If there is compliance of the powerline communication system but nevertheless the
interference remains, the competent authorities of the Member State should consider taking special measures in accordance with Article 6 of the Directive
89/336/EEC in a proportionate, non-discriminatory and transparent manner.
Member States should report to the Communications Committee on a regular basis on the deployment and operations of powerline communication systems in
their territory. Such reports should include any relevant data about disturbance levels (including measurement data, related injected signal levels and other data useful for the drafting of a harmonized European standard, interference problems and
PLC Technologies
any enforcement measures related to powerline communication systems). The
first such report is due on 31 December 2005.
8. This Recommendation is addressed to the Member States.
Done at Brussels, 6 April 2005 for the Commission, Viviane REDING, Member of
the Commission.
At the Cenélec, the PLC guidelines are adhered to by the following technical
committees (TC) and subcommittees (SC):
TC 205, “Home and building electronic systems (HBES)”;
SC 205 A, “Main communicating systems”;
TC 210, “Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC),” CISPR mirror.
The mission of the SC 205, a “product” subcommittee, is to “prepare harmonized international standards for communication systems using low voltage electric
lines or the building wiring as a transmission medium and frequencies greater than 3
kHz and up to 30 MHz. This task includes the allocation of frequency bands to
transmit the signal over the low voltage network.”
To comply with the IEC’s nonduplication of work principle, the work on the
product international standard is more or less pending in this subcommittee.
Figure 1.3 illustrates the various links between the parties involved (bodies,
consortiums, states, European commission, and so forth) working on international
Needs for harmonized
Mandate 313
Special International
Committee for Radioelectrical
for publication
WG2: Functional Immunity
WG4: Passive Filters
WG10: High Freq Powerline
Figure 1.3
Parties involved in PLC standardization
and national standards relating to PLC in Europe, in particular the IEC, Cenélec,
and the ETSI.
Consortiums and Associations
In addition to the bodies and institutions above, some associations and consortiums
play a pre-standardization, or even standardization, role for PLC; in particular, the
three major parties involved include HomePlug, the IEEE, and the Opera consortium. Historically in Europe, any lobbying in favor of PLC was conducted by the
PUA and the PLC Forum.
Figure 1.4 illustrates the roles of each of the parties involved in this PLC
HomePlug Alliance
Manufacturers for HomePlug Alliance groups cover both PLC technology and services in order to develop HomePlug specifications (HomePlug 1.0, HomePlug AV,
and HomePlug BPL).
At present, only the HomePlug 1.0 specification has been finalized and implemented in many products on the market.
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
The IEEE, a non-profit-making body, is the largest technical international professional association and one of the main authorities for sectors as varied as aerospace
systems, computers and telecommunications, biomedical technologies, electrical
energy, or consumer electronics.
Figure 1.4
Consortiums and associations relating to PLC
PLC Technologies
The IEEE distributes both information and resources to its members, as well as
providing technical and professional services. To stimulate interest in occupations
related to the technology, the IEEE also offers services to its student members all
over the world.
Another major aspect of the IEEE consists of prospects, individuals and
corporations, buying its products and participating in its conferences and
The Opera consortium includes thirty-six partners native to various European
countries and Israel. All the bodies and associations involved in the development of
PLC technology are represented in the consortium, from public services to telecommunications operators through chipset makers, modem manufacturers, consultants, and universities.
This wealth of diverse profiles and skills plays an important role in the fulfillment of the consortium’s objectives.
Opera’s strategic objective is to “provide a high speed access service to all European citizens by using the most universal infrastructure—the PLC network.” In
order to achieve this, Opera carries out research and development, as well as demonstration and dissemination operations at a European level, so as to overcome any
residual obstacle and to make it possible for PLC operators to provide high-speed
access services to each European citizen at a competitive price.
The main Opera missions are the following:
general improvement of low and medium voltage PLC systems (speed, easy
implementation, and so forth);
development of optimum solutions for PLC network connection to backbone
PLC system standardization.
PUA (PLC Utilities Alliance)
The PUA is an alliance created in Madrid on January 21, 2002, focusing on European public services delivering to more than a hundred million customers.
It currently has the following members:
EDF (Électricité de France), France;
Endesa Net Factory, Spain;
Enel Distribuzione, Italy;
Iberdrola, Spain;
EDP (Electricidade de Portugal), Portugal;
EEF (Entreprises Electriques Fribourgeoises), Switzerland;
Unión Fenosa, Spain.
PLC Forum
The PLC Forum is an international body created at the beginning of the 2000s from
the merger of two associations. It develops its activities in coordination with other
bodies working on PLC.
Toward a Standardization of PLC Technology
Any standardization is a slow process. This is not surprising if we consider that it
requires the consensus of the members of the particular work group before any decision is made.
Although this approach has proven to be efficient in most industrial fields, it is
perhaps less suited to information technologies, the national standards of which
should be aimed primarily at satisfying clients’ immediate needs.
Future IEEE Standard
At the beginning of June 2005, the IEEE steering committee validated the creation of
a draft PLC standard under the title “IEEE P1901 Draft Standard for Broadband
over Power Line Networks: Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications.”
The standard will apply to high throughput PLC equipment (greater than 100
Mbit/s at the physical layer level), in the frequency range lower than 100 MHz, and
will address access techniques and internal networks. Furthermore, it will set out to
define coexistence and interoperability mechanisms among the various items of PLC
equipment, the quality of the service provided, and data confidentiality.
Almost all of the parties involved in PLC are involved in this project, in particular those listed in Table 1.1.
Future Interoperability Standard
An interoperability standard is being prepared to tackle multiple PLC specifications
and technologies present in the domestic, professional, and public electrical networks.
Since the electrical network used as a communication medium is shared, these
various technologies coexist on the electrical cables in the same frequency bands.
Therefore, the various parties involved in PLC work together within the IEEE and
CEPCA (Consumer Electronics Powerline Communication Alliance) to make them
interoperable. This future standard is detailed in Chapter 14, which covers the prospects of PLC networks.
Advantages and Disadvantages of PLC
Like any viable system, PLC has both advantages and disadvantages in comparison
with competitive technologies.
Advantages and Disadvantages of PLC
Table 1.1
Main Parties Involved in IEEE PLC Standardization
Advanced Communications Networks SA
Ambient Corporation
Arkados, Inc.
CEPCA Administration
Conexant Systems, Inc.
Corinex Communications Corporation
Current Technologies
Duke Power
HomePlug Powerline Alliance
IBEC (International Broadband Electric Communications), Inc.
Intellon Corporation
Itochu Corporation
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
Mitsubishi Materials Ltd.
Panasonic Corporation
Pioneer Corporation
Schneider Electric Powerline Communications
Sony Corporation
Spidcom Technologies
Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd.
Texas Instruments
Toyo Network Systems Co., Ltd.
Universal Powerline Association
Among the disadvantages, there is the relative immaturity of the products concerning the outdoor (external) and the access networks. In the case of high throughput, the problem is mainly related to the electromagnetic compatibility and
compliance with emission constraints.
The main advantages of the PLC are the following:
use of the existing electrical network, which involves potentially covering the
entire country under consideration;
quick deployment;
no additional wiring;
a robust encryption method.
PLC Theory
This part of the book is devoted to the HomePlug specification. Created by the
industrial alliance of the same name, HomePlug focuses on two principal aspects:
the physical layer, concerned with data transmission over the power line medium;
and the data link layer, which defines the architecture and mechanisms to implement, allowing this transmission to take place over the network under the best possible conditions.
Since the release of HomePlug 1.0, two more versions have appeared, bringing
improvements in transmission speed, security, and service quality.
To improve data transmission, the physical layer uses optimized techniques for
coding, modulation, and error correction, resulting in excellent connectivity
between devices and good transmission rates. The respective transmission rates for
HomePlug 1.0, Turbo, and AV are 14 Mbit/s, 85 Mbit/s, and 200 Mbit/s, placing
PLC in direct competition with Ethernet and Wi-Fi networks.
The data link layer implements a set of technologies providing excellent conditions for high performance transmission of data in the form of IP packets. The network access techniques that define this layer determine the network performance.
Successive releases of the HomePlug specification have improved this layer. Service quality has been optimized using time division multiple access (TDMA) techniques, and management of the network architecture of PLC devices has been
refined through a hierarchal organization of data frames. Service quality is a key element for transmission of data in real-time applications, such as voice or video.
The difficulty of access to the physical medium under PLC provides increased
immunity to attacks, yielding a higher security level that differentiates PLC from
Wi-Fi. This immunity is further strengthened by the implementation of DES and
AES encryption of frames transmitted on the power line medium, and by network
integrity techniques that allow management of the devices authorized to participate
in the PLC network.
PLC, or power line communication, is the generic name for a network technology
that transmits data over electrical wiring. It is the result of extensive research on
high bandwidth data transmission on the power line medium.
The architecture of PLC networks is comparable in many aspects to that of
wired networks, but also to that of Wi-Fi networks, as we will see in this chapter.
HomePlug was the first PLC specification to provide a bit rate between 1 and 5
Mbit/s. Furthermore, HomePlug has implemented new techniques for connecting
devices to the network, as we will examine in detail.
The HomePlug specification is in constant evolution. Multiple revisions have
resulted in higher data rates, which remain limited by the shared nature of the
medium. Additional improvements have been made in the areas of functionality,
service quality, and security. The HomePlug alliance is currently the sole de facto
PLC standard, but as we saw in Chapter 1, the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and IEEE have started their own standards processes.
This chapter introduces the overall architecture of PLC networks and provides
detailed coverage of the two main layers: the physical layer and the data link layer.
Architecture of Electrical Networks
PLC (Power Line Communications) technology allows data transmission over electrical wiring. The electrical wiring is therefore the medium for data transmission,
corresponding to the physical layer in the OSI model. Unlike other physical communication media like UTP (Ethernet cable), coaxial cable, fiber optic cable, and so
forth, this role supporting data transmission is not the principal function of the electrical wiring. Data transport is therefore a complementary function to delivery of
electrical power (approximately 110 V/60 Hz in the United States and Japan and
220 V/50 Hz in Europe) by the wiring that powers electrical devices from the public
electrical network.
Electrical networks are classified according to their voltage level, as shown in
Table 2.1.
This classification of electrical networks according to voltage levels allows the
roles of associated organizations to be separated according to their area of responsibility.
Table 2.1 Levels of Electrical Voltage
Current name
Traditional name (still in use)
Common voltage levels in France
Ultra high voltage
High voltage
Medium voltage
Low voltage
380V (three phase)
220V (single phase)
Drawing a parallel to the PSTN (public switched telephony network) model of a
national telephone company, the electrical distribution network’s power plant is its
central office, supplying a distribution network that reaches all the way to the subscriber. This network is built on a star architecture where each branch of the star is
the telephone wiring linking the subscriber to the central office.
In the PSTN network, the central office serves as a switch between the IP traffic
coming from subscribers’ modems in the 20 kHz to 1.1 MHz frequency band, and
classic telephone communications in the 300 to 3,300 kHz band. Interpreted under
a network model, the central office acts as an Ethernet switch and IP router to the
high bandwidth link with the IP backbone (see Figure 2.1).
For example, in the French electrical distribution network, it is the MV/LV
transformer that links the MT network and the distribution networks, each serving
an average of 200 EDF subscriber meters (see Figure 2.2). The MV/LV transformer
can be viewed as the Ethernet hub of the EGS network and the gateway to the IP
backbone, on the basis of its high bandwidth IP transport links.
Figure 2.1
Simplified architecture of a PSTN (public switched telephony network)
Architecture of Electrical Networks
Figure 2.2
Simplified architecture of the electrical distribution network
In terms of responsibility, each part of the electrical network is operated by distinct organizations, responsible for supply and transport of electricity, as well as the
transport of data in the case of PLC networks.
Figure 2.3 illustrates this division of responsibilities as applied to the different
organizations composing the national electrical network.
Characteristics of Electrical Wiring
The physical support for communications based on PLC technologies is electrical
wiring. It was not originally designed to transport data; its physical characteristics
are primarily chosen to transport power at line voltage and frequency, such as 110
V/60 Hz.
Figure 2.3
Operational responsibilities in the electrical network
This section introduces some of the physical properties of electrical wiring in
order to understand its capabilities (both advantages and limitations) for the transmission of data.
Electrical wiring is characterized by an impedance Z (the absolute value of the resistive, inductive, and capacitive components of the elements in the electrical network).
It is not a fixed value. Devices are constantly being connected or disconnected from
the electrical wiring. This modifies the wiring’s impedance, making it difficult to
model the communication medium, and therefore the transmission channel.
Additionally, the impedance of a device can vary as a function of its operating
mode, speed, age, design, and so forth.
Studies have shown that the impedance of electrical devices powered by household electricity typically falls between 10Ω and 1 kΩ.
Capacitance and Inductance
The various devices connected to the electrical network all have a certain capacitance and inductance with regard to the electric current (110V, for example) that is
present on the circuit, alternating at a line frequency of 50 or 60 Hz.
The inductance (L) of a circuit or electrical dipole, also called self-inductance, is
a value that expresses the inductive flux created by the electrical current passing
through it. The displacement of electric charges in a material having nonzero magnetic susceptibility (μ) creates a magnetic field (H) and a magnetic induction (B).
In the case of a material with a delimited surface, typically an electrical cable,
the magnetic field produced by the current passing through the circuit creates an
inductive flux. The inductance may be confined to the circuit or may interact with
another electrical circuit.
The inductance can be expressed as a function of the magnetic field (φ) and electrical current (I) using the formula:
In the case of a sinusoidal voltage (as is the case for household electricity), this
equation is expressed efficiently using Ohm’s law as a function of the voltage (U),
current (I), and frequency (f):
(expressed in henries)
The capacitance (C), also called capacity, of an electrical circuit is a value
expressing the potential energy stored in an electrical field created between two
adjacent conductive surfaces of opposite electrical charge.
This potential energy, or capacitance, is proportional to the electrical charge
stored by the electrical dipole formed by the two surfaces. This electrical charge can
Architecture of Electrical Networks
also be expressed in terms of electrical flux (φ) and associated with the electrical
potential between the two surfaces of the dipole:
(expressed in coulombs)
In the case of a sinusoidal voltage (as is the case for household electricity), this
equation is expressed efficiently using Ohm’s law, as a function of the voltage (U),
current (I) and frequency (f):
(expressed in farads)
The impedance (Z) of an electrical circuit is composed of resistive (R), inductive
(L), and capacitive (C) components. Together, they completely characterize the
impedance from an electrical point of view.
These characteristics have an influence on the overall behavior of the electrical
network as a function of the electrical current flow in the network. From a computer science point of view, these characteristics compel a particular modeling of
the physical layer in order to obtain the best quality possible from the transmission
Using Ohm’s law, the impedance may be expressed in complex values as the
sum of resistive, inductive, and capacitive components, where j expresses the imaginary part of a complex value:
Z = R + jL2 πf +
(expressed in ohms for the absolute value)
C2 πf
As the current passes through multiple electrical circuits, their combined impedances form a complex network of impedances in series and parallel. Sections may be
connected or disconnected at any time. Also, the various impedances induce mutual
magnetic and electrical fields that create electrical currents based on their relative
proportions. From the point of view of a transmission channel, this property can
have surprising implications, as we will see.
Since the inductive and capacitive characteristics constantly modify the physical transmission channel, PLC transmission techniques must be optimized and
Electromagnetic Noise and Perturbations
The transmission channel acquires a certain noise level from the various electrical
devices connected to the electrical wiring or in its proximity.
The different types of noise that can be identified on and around the wiring are:
impulse noise from stops and starts of electrical devices;
broadband white noise, whose power spectral density is the same at all frequencies;
periodic noise at multiple frequencies;
harmonic noise, composed of multiple frequencies used by electrical equipment connected to the network and which are multiples of the line frequency
(for example, 50 Hz yields harmonics of 300 Hz, 600 Hz, and so forth).
Overall, the noise is quantified by the signal-to-noise ratio, or SNR, generally
measured in decibels (dB).
In addition to noise on the power line medium, devices connected to the electrical network, or disconnected but located in proximity to the wiring, create a measurable level of perturbations on the transmission channel. This rather complex
technical subject is known as EMC (electromagnetic compatibility).
From the EMC point of view, every powered electrical device generates electrical perturbations, which may be conducted (transported on the electrical wiring) or
inducted (emitted in the radio environment of the device).
Numerous working groups in Europe (Cenélec) and internationally (IEC) have
established rules that specify authorized limits for the perturbations produced by
each category of electrical equipment, including PLC equipment. Also, telecommunications standards organizations in Europe (ETSI) and internationally (ITU) are
studying perturbation thresholds in order to optimize the transmission channel, and
signal processing techniques to obtain the best performance from PLC. The IEEE is
also working on these issues to optimize the physical layer of the OSI model.
The ISRIC (International Special Radio Interference Committee) Working
Group 3 has set allowable limits for perturbations from PLC electrical devices in the
150 kHz to 30 MHz band.
The EMC perturbations received and provoked by PLC are the subject of
numerous other projects and studies. Their objective is to standardize emission levels of each device and to obtain a transmission channel that works efficiently with
this level of emissions.
In the same way that a radio signal’s power is and attenuated function of the distance traveled by the waves, or a DSL signal is attenuated as it travels on the PSTN’s
copper pairs, the electrical signal loses power as a function of the distance traveled.
This characteristic of electrical wiring must be taken into account when implementing a PLC network. In Chapter 8 (Table 8.10), we will study in detail the choice
of parameters that offers the best performance for a PLC network. They vary greatly
as a function of the range and attenuation of the signal.
Variations in impedance on the electrical network provoke effects such as
multipath, giving rise to “notches” or amplitude peaks in the PLC signal, which may
be considerable at certain frequencies. In the home, signal attenuation on electrical
wiring is on the order of 20 to 60 dB, depending on the topology and content of the
wiring network.
The minimum attenuation for the meter and circuit breakers combined is 30 dB
for a system based on frequencies above 20 MHz. For frequencies below 20 MHz,
the average attenuation is approximately 50 dB. However, a good PLC coupler can
reduce the attenuation to 10 to 15 dB for certain frequencies.
Architecture of Electrical Networks
The signal frequency of a HomePlug 1.0 modem is between 4 and 25 MHz, giving a power spectral density of –50 dBm/Hz. We will examine the consequences of
this value in Chapter 8 (Table 8.10).
Table 2.2 summarizes attenuation values for the principal devices on the electrical network.
Multiple studies have shown that in a household electricity distribution network, the average signal attenuation is on the order of 50 dB/km.
Coupling Between Phases
When a high frequency alternating electrical signal is present on electrical wiring, it
provokes a magnetic field, called coupling, in the proximity of the wiring.
The coupling is known as crosstalk when the induction is between components
of the same electrical network and a telluric current when the components are in different networks.
Frequency Response
Depending on the nature of the electrical wiring (material, composition, age, and so
forth), its response to a high frequency signal, that is, its ability to propagate the signal, varies considerably.
We will spell out the consequences of this characteristic for the implementation
of a PLC network in Chapter 8 (Table 8.11), and show how they can be taken into
account when choosing network topology and electrical cables.
Interface Sensitivity
Electrical devices contain analog interfaces that permit their coupling (inductive or
capacitive) to the power line medium. In the case of PLC, these interfaces allow,
among other things, the transmission of a digital signal over electrical wiring.
Table 2.2
Attenuation of Principal Electrical Equipment on an Electrical Network
Electrical equipment
Electromechanical meter
15 dB
Electromechanical meters attenuate the PLC signal
but do not block it, resulting in propagation of the
PLC signal outside of the private electrical network.
Electronic meter
15 dB
Equivalent to the electromechanical meter.
Circuit breaker
5 dB
If a signal linking two PLC devices passes through
too many circuit breakers, it may be excessively
Power strip
10 dB
The construction quality of the power strip has a
great influence on its attenuation. Therefore, we
should avoid connecting PLC devices to power
20 to 30 dB
The meter and circuit breakers combined do not
attenuate the signal enough to prevent its propagation outside of the private electrical network of a
home or business.
30 dB
Above 20 MHz.
50 dB
Below 20 MHz.
Electronic meter and circuit
Electromechanical meter
and circuit breakers
Depending on the electronic components used, the analog interface has a characteristic “sensitivity” that affects its ability to transmit the PLC signal without
excessive degradation. This sensitivity is modeled by an impedance between the electrical wiring and the digital circuitry of the device.
Modeling Electrical Networks
Modeling an electrical network allows us to anticipate phenomena that occur during data transmission (perturbations, lost connections, and so forth) and to propose
a representation that will best support the engineering of the network.
Whether electrical networks are considered in a public context (the case of electrical distribution networks) or that of a private home or business, modeling them is
a difficult technical subject that requires consideration of numerous parameters
(topology, nature of the wiring, perturbations, devices connected to the network,
time of day, and so forth).
Since no tool exists for exhaustive modeling of electrical networks, the engineering of PLC telecommunications networks is limited to modeling the physical transport layer of the PLC signal.
Measurements carried out on electrical networks have allowed us to quantify
the average impedance of an electrical line for high frequencies of the type used by
PLC equipment.
Figure 2.4 illustrates the impedance curve in ohms (impedance as an absolute
value) as a function of frequency. This impedance varies from 5 to 150 ohms for
PLC frequencies.
Figure 2.4
Average impedance of an electrical line as a function of frequency
Architecture of Electrical Networks
Work by Nicholson and Malak has allowed us to express the average impedance of an electrical line by the formula:
Zc =
L = μH/m (linear inductance of the electrical line)
C = μF/m (linear capacitance of the electrical line)
Work by Downey and Sutterlin has allowed us to model the electrical circuit
equivalent to an electrical line. This circuit, composed of resistances, inductances
and capacitances, may be schematized as shown in Figure 2.5.
The impedance of an electrical line is described by the following equation:
Z = R( f ) + s × L (expressed in ohms)
where R is the resistance of the cable as a function of the frequency of the signal
being propagated in the cable, s is the cable’s diameter, and L is the line’s inductance.
The impedance depends on the loads connected to the electrical line: electrical
devices (hairdryers, halogen lamps, and so forth) connected to the network, each
with a characteristic impedance.
These modeling elements allow us to calculate orders of magnitude for the characteristic values of electrical networks that affect the transport of PLC signals.
Modeling Electrical Devices on the Network
In the same way that it is difficult to model electrical networks, it is also difficult to
model the electrical equipment connected to the network. This diverse equipment,
constantly being connected or disconnected in unpredictable ways, causes continual
variations in the network load.
Also, the equipment’s characteristics vary according to its age, the time of day,
the frequency of use, and so forth. As a result, such a model is rather imprecise.
Figure 2.5
Schematic circuit of an electrical line as modeled by Downey and Sutterlin
With the exception of EMTP, which allows modeling an entire electrical network and all its wiring as a function of its topology, there exist few tools capable of
facilitating the engineering and the understanding of the behavior of PLC signals on
electrical wiring.
However, Cenélec (the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization) is developing a system to facilitate the modeling of in-home electrical
Architecture with a Shared Medium
Chapters 10, 11, and 12 are devoted to the installation of PLC networks for homes,
businesses, and communities. We will see that the topology of electrical networks
can be viewed as a medium shared by all equipment carrying multiple PLC signals,
transporting data exchanged between terminals of a local network.
In those chapters, we will distinguish “public” networks, which furnish electricity to individuals, businesses, and communities, and “private” networks, composed
of the electrical distribution network of a building, from the meters to the outlets.
We will see that the notion of a shared medium is equivalent to these two types of
Public Networks
A public electrical network is a distribution network that supplies houses, apartments, buildings and businesses within a neighborhood, a town, or a community.
This network is public to the extent that anyone may become a subscriber and be
supplied by the local electrical authorities.
Figure 2.6 illustrates schematically a public electrical network supplying six
meters, behind which we find PLC devices connected to the home’s private electrical
network. The medium is shared among the meters, according to the topology of the
public electrical network (star, ring, and so forth) and its branches.
In this Figure, two electrical branches terminate at several meters and at PLC
equipment. The PLC signal propagates between the various devices connected to the
electrical network along these branches, including the sets of meter and circuit
breakers. A related issue is the signal attenuation along the electrical wiring. We can
thereby visualize the electrical network as a data bus, with PLC devices connected
on both the public and private zones.
Private Networks
A private electrical network is located behind the meter connecting it to the public
electrical network and is managed by those in the zone it serves: an apartment, a
house, an office, a factory, and so forth.
The topology of this type of network, unlike that of public electrical networks,
does not follow well-defined engineering rules and may be installation-specific
(addition of parts of a network or circuit breaker panels, series topology, and so
forth). Nevertheless, all branches of the network generally stem from the meter and
Architecture with a Shared Medium
Figure 2.6
The public electrical network viewed as a shared medium
main circuit breaker panel, and the PLC signal circulates in all branches by passing
through the panel.
Figure 2.7 illustrates a simplified example of an electrical network with three
branches from the circuit breaker panel. On the right side of the illustration, the
PLC signal propagates between all the outlets, thereby connecting the PLC devices.
This example shows how a private electrical network can be viewed as a shared
medium equivalent to a data bus.
Analogy with a Network Hub
The two preceding examples of public and private electrical networks demonstrate
that any type of electrical network can be viewed as an immense data bus with the
network’s PLC devices connected to it.
In terms of telecommunications equipment, the most appropriate analogy is a
concentrator or hub, with the various PLC devices connected to the electrical network representing different Ethernet ports.
Figure 2.8 illustrates this analogy schematically.
The Concept of PLC Repeaters
As we will see in Chapter 7, dedicated to PLC equipment, it can become necessary to
repeat the signal in order to extend its coverage zone and to connect additional
Figure 2.7
A private electrical network viewed as a shared medium
Figure 2.8
Analogy between a PLC network and a hub
At points in the electrical wiring where the PLC signal becomes too weak to be
used by the network’s PLC devices, the repeater amplifies and regenerates the signal.
Two different types of repeaters allow us to extend the range of PLC networks:
“Physical” repeaters literally amplify the signal and retransmit it along the
electrical line. This type is called physical because it operates on the physical
Layered Architecture
signal and not on the data frames. Therefore, this type of repeater does not
reduce the bandwidth of the overall PLC network.
“Logical” PLC repeaters repeat the signal at the level of the data frames. This
type of repeater is composed of two PLC devices connected by their Ethernet
interface. The first device is connected to one segment of the electrical network and the second device is connected to another segment that is inaccessible to the PLC signal due to excessive attenuation. This type of repeater
reduces the bandwidth of the overall PLC network by a factor of two because
it creates two distinct logical networks on the same physical electrical network.
Layered Architecture
The OSI (open systems interconnection) layered model provides a common base for
the description of any data network. This model is composed of seven layers, each
describing an independent protocol that furnishes a service to the layer above it and
requests services from the layer below it.
In the context of this model, PLC networks correspond to layers 1 (physical)
and 2 (data link), supplying an Ethernet connection service to the layers above.
Figure 2.9 illustrates the position of PLC technologies in the OSI model. Layer 1
(physical) is materialized by the electrical wiring that carries the PLC signal. The
PLC equipment provides a terminal (typically a PC) with an Ethernet connection
service corresponding to layer 2 (data link), using a MAC protocol and RJ-45 connectors. The terminal uses PLC network services to access services in higher layers
(IP, TCP, HTTP, and so forth).
The Physical Layer
The physical layer of PLC technologies is materialized by electrical wiring and,
more generally, by electrical networks. In order to transport the PLC signal on this
medium, the line frequency (for example, 110 V/60 Hz) of the electrical circuit is
supplemented by a modulated signal of low amplitude around a center frequency
(carrier frequency) F.
The physical layer therefore consists of this low amplitude modulated signal,
transported on electrical wiring at a frequency determined by the PLC technology
employed and the applicable regulations. We will go into detail on modulation techniques in Chapter 3.
Figure 2.10 illustrates the sum of the PLC and power signals, which are superimposed on the electrical wiring, creating the physical layer of a PLC network.
Frequency Bands
The PLC signal is modulated in amplitude, frequency, or phase around a carrier frequency F. National or international standards organizations have set down rules
that should be followed for the utilization of each frequency band, from zero to tens
of gigahertz.
Figure 2.9
Figure 2.10
Position of PLC technologies in the OSI model
Sum of the modulated PLC signal and the power signal (for example, 110 V/60 Hz)
Layered Architecture
Figure 2.11
Frequency bands allocated to PLC networks
Two frequency bands are allocated to PLC technologies:
3 to 148 kHz for low bit rate PLC;
2 to 20 MHz for high bit rate PLC.
Figure 2.11 illustrates the placement of PLC frequency bands relative to those of
other network technologies.
The functionalities of the PLC networks are introduced in this chapter. The technologies used in these networks are simple enough to be integrated into a single chip so
that components can be manufactured at a very low cost. They will still be relevant
up to the introduction of new PLC interfaces making it possible to increase the
throughput of the devices.
The PLC functionalities take advantage of the many technological developments of fixed networks, in particular ADSL, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and so forth. The
PLC electrical component makes it necessary to employ technologies used to make
the PLC link, which is the main weak point of this type of network, reliable.
The main functionalities of the PLC are the following:
network mode, which is used to manage the network organization and communications between the various PLC devices;
PLC frame management mode, in particular fragmentation and reassembly,
which are used to solve the huge data volume transmission problem;
medium access technique, which includes the synchronization of the network
devices and priority management;
quality of service, which authorizes the transmission of voice or video data in
PLC environments.
Network Mode Functionality
One of the major functionalities of the PLC networks is the network mode, which is
used to manage all PLC devices from the same network.
Since, by definition, a network consists of several devices exchanging data, it is
necessary to implement an exchange management system so that they are organized
and optimized.
There are several network organization methods. The various PLC technologies
use one of the following three network modes:
Master-slave mode. Can be compared to a client-server type IP network in
which a master device manages the exchanges between the PLC devices of the
network. The slaves can exchange data between themselves according to master management.
Peer-to-peer mode. May be compared to a peer-to-peer IP network, where all
the PLC devices of the network play the same role and have the same hierarchical level. These devices may have interchanges without being monitored by
a master device.
Centralized mode. Blending of the two preceding modes, in which a centralizing device is responsible for managing the network and exchanges between
PLC devices. The other devices may also exchange with one another without
having to go through the centralizer.
The main advantages and disadvantages of these three modes are summarized in
Table 3.1.
Master-Slave Mode
The master-slave mode makes it possible to use the logic of the electrical network
consisting of an electrical meter at the head of the network, which is considered as a
master of the electrical network, its circuit-breakers and bus-bar connections, considered as slaves of these circuit breakers on which the PLC network is based for its
physical medium and to place the so-called master device on the network head part
and the slave devices on the various network strands.
In the case of PLC networks on public MV or LV electrical networks, the main
functionalities expected from the master are the following:
Table 3.1
Management of the secured connections of the various slave devices. Each
device belongs to a private logical network thanks to a dedicated connection
channel on the electrical medium used as a shared medium. Therefore, the
PLC frames circulate freely on the various strands of the electrical network.
Management of the quality of service (QoS) of the PLC physical links between
the slaves and the master by means of various physical level analysis methods
(signal-to-noise level in each frequency sub-band, calculation of transmittable
Advantages and Disadvantages of Master-Slave, Peer-to-Peer, and Centralized Modes
— Centralized administration
— Gateway role for PLC network
— Management of Qos levels (TDMA)
— Management of the roles of each device
— PLC and IP network hierarchy
— Easier network supervision
— Need for redundancy
— Weak points concerning security
— Possible bandwidth congestion
— More complex configuration
— Bandwidth distribution
— Distribution of PLC routing tables at a
physical level
— Easy to deploy
— No network hierarchy
— Poor PLC gateway definition
— Centralized administration
— Only administration traffic passes via the
— Weak point on centralizer
— Need for coordinator to manage
TDMA frames
Network Mode Functionality
numbers of bits/Hz, and so forth). This QoS management is ensured by using
a quality table for the various links located at the PLC master level.
Possibility to create VLAN or slave inter-device links via the centralized
administration of encryption keys at physical and possibly logical levels.
Device supervision in order to integrate IP network administration tools
(SNMP stack type) upstream in the PLC network according to a more complete IP network architecture.
Management of the redundancy with other master devices.
The master device integrates in this way the entire PLC network intelligence
providing optimized architecture management via embedded or remote interfaces
accessible from standard protocols, generally HTTP or IP, with SNMP stacks permanently updated according to the fluctuations of the electrical network.
In the case of PLC networks on domestic LV electrical networks (apartment,
house, SMB, hospital, hotel, school, and so forth), the functionalities expected from
the various master PLC devices (there may be several devices on the electrical network in order to form a distinct logical architecture or to repeat PLC signals) are the
Management of the quality levels of the PLC links between the slave devices
and the master device as well as between slave devices.
QoS management by means of the useful bandwidth parameters (concerning
the TCP layer), of jitter and latency.
Management of secured connections by using encryption keys for each logical
network to ensure the logical isolation of each slave PLC device, for example
in an architecture for a hotel or a university hall of residence. This functionality is used to detect newly plugged in or already plugged in devices.
Management of the redundancy between master devices to ensure the correct
operation of the entire PLC architecture with throughputs as high as 200
Mbit/s and still more in the years to come at the physical level.
Table 3.2 summarizes the main functions expected from the master PLC device
and the corresponding technical solutions.
Table 3.2 Functions Expected from the Master Device and Corresponding
Technical Solutions
Frame collision
Time-division multiplexing
Status table of physical links
“Tone Map” table
Synchronization of 50 Hz network
Zero crossing
SNR in each frequency sub-band
Listening to noise levels
MAC layer supervision
Frames and FEC
Supervision frames
Beacon regionalization and beacon mode
Peer-to-Peer Mode
The telecommunication network theory has been much based on the network device
hierarchy principle. This principle was put into question with the emergence of ad
hoc type architectures, either in wireless local area networks or networks for file
exchange over the Internet, called peer-to-peer networks. The decentralized networks offer many advantages in comparison with hierarchical networks or networks in the master-slave mode.
In the PLC architecture in the peer-to-peer mode illustrated in Figure 3.1, all the
PLC devices play the same role and permanently exchange a number of parameters
in order to keep the network consistent. In the case of HomePlug 1.0, the devices
exchange and update information locally.
The main parameters that the PLC devices require are the following:
Quality of the PLC link between a device and all the other devices. This quality is assessed on a physical level in the same manner as radio devices assess the
quality of the radio links to evaluate the available services in the upper OSI
layers by means of a permanently updated table known as a tone map table.
EKS (encryption key select) encryption keys used to connect to a PLC network
and for exchanges with other devices. There are two EKS in HomePlug 1.0:
DEK (default encryption key) and NEK (network encryption key). We’ll cover
their characteristics again in Chapter 4, which covers security and their configuration is covered in Chapter 9. These keys are used to create, over the same
electrical network, several PLC networks in the peer-to-peer mode without
communicating internetwork data. Since these networks use the same electrical network, the data communication throughput may be reduced as the PLC
technology uses all of the 2 to 30 MHz frequency band.
Figure 3.1
Architecture of a PLC network in the peer-to-peer mode
Network Mode Functionality
Selection of the best suited modulation mode and FEC (forward error correction) type in view of the PLC link qualities. In the case of HomePlug 1.0, the
four possible modes are DQPSK ¾ (differential quadrature phase shift keying), DQPSK ½, DBPSK ½ (differential binary PSK), and ROBO (robust
OFDM), which are used to obtain four types of data rates.
Priority of each network PLC device. This parameter is indicated in the
VLAN field of the Ethernet frames for each PLC device according to its configuration. It is used to establish almost a network hierarchy with devices acting as gateways to other networks and other devices playing standard roles in
the architecture.
Figure 3.2 illustrates the architecture of a PLC network in the peer-to-peer
mode, in which these four parameters are permanently exchanged by the network
devices in order to keep the network homogeneous and to maintain a better
Ethernet frame and bandwidth routing distribution.
Figure 3.2
Parameter exchange between PLC network devices in the peer-to-peer mode
HomePlug 1.0 PLC Network Hierarchy by Means of Priorities
Within IEEE 802.3 Ethernet frames, a VLAN field may be placed described in the IEEE
802.1Q standard. Within the framework of PLC networks in peer-to-peer mode, this field is
used to create almost a hierarchy between the PLC devices of the same network. The field is
encoded on 3 bits and therefore can have eight values.
Table 3.3 lists the four available PLC priorities according to the value of the VLAN field.
It may be useful to implement a higher priority on a PLC device used as a gateway to
another IP network or being connected to a device of the server type liable to receive much
traffic from the other network PLC devices connected to the PC in the client mode of said
server. Several PLC devices connected to IP telephones over the network and having priority 4 to provide the best transmission time for real-time audio communications may also be
This priority is one of the most important PLC network configuration parameters in the
peer-to-peer mode, even though it is only a logical parameter that has no influence on the
PLC links at a physical level. We’ll cover this parameter again in Chapter 9.
The peer-to-peer mode is widely used in PLC networks complying with the
HomePlug 1.0 standard, since PLC networks in which each device creates PLC links
with devices connected to the other sockets of the electrical network can be quickly
created with it. This mode is thus used to create a PLC ad hoc network over the electrical architecture of the building for the application requirements of the local area
The configuration and the optimization of the PLC network depend on the
functionalities anticipated on the local area network and on the requirements in
terms of client-server architecture in order to achieve a realistic architecture with
regard to the performance of the PLC technologies.
Figure 3.3 illustrates the various steps in the organization of a PLC network in
the peer-to-peer mode from the functionality requirements to the technical
Centralized Mode
The architecture of the HomePlug AV PLC technology is actually neither in the
peer-to-peer mode nor in the master-slave mode. It involves two device types:
devices with a similar hierarchical level and a centralizing device, as illustrated in
Figure 3.4.
The CCo (central) device manages medium access allocations for the various
PLC devices that want to communicate between themselves.
Table 3.3
PLC Priorities of VLAN Field
Priority 3
VoIP (less than 10 ms transmission time)
Priority 2
Video over IP (less than 100 ms transmission time)
Priority 1
Raw data transfer and control traffic
Priority 0
Limited data communication
Network Mode Functionality
Figure 3.3
Organization of a PLC network in the peer-to-peer mode
Figure 3.4
Architecture of a PLC network in centralized mode
The data is communicated between the PLC1 and PLC2 devices in the following
1. PLC1 and PLC2 put in place an estimate of the transmission channel (modulation levels, error coding level, and so forth).
2. PLC1 and PLC2 inform CCo (PLC3) that they wish to exchange data.
3. CCo (PLC3) allocates to them a time interval during which they have access
to the medium.
4. PLC1 and PLC2 directly exchange their data without going via CCo.
If managing the medium access is handled by the CCo centralizing device like in
the master-slave mode, the data is exchanged directly between the devices as in the
peer-to-peer mode.
Transmission Channel Functionalities
In PLC, the transmission channel is the electrical network. Since it was not originally
designed to support network applications, network functionalities had to be added
to so that the data link layer could be implemented correctly. Among them, medium
access and frame synchronization and frequency channel management processes on
the electrical wiring are specific to PLC technologies.
Access to the Medium Using CSMA/CA Techniques
CSMA/CA (carrier sense multiple access/collision avoidance) is a so-called random
access technique with listening to the carrier wave, which is used to listen to the
transmission medium before sending data. CSMA prevents several transmissions
from taking place over the same medium at the same time and reduces collisions but
does not prevent them completely.
In Ethernet, the CSMA/CD (carrier sense multiple access/collision detection)
protocol controls access to the medium of each station, and senses and handles the
collisions that occur when two or more stations try to communicate simultaneously
via the network.
In the case of PLC, the collisions cannot be detected. To detect a collision, a station must be capable of listening and transmitting at the same time. In PLC systems
like in radio systems, the transmission prevents the station from listening at the same
time at the transmission frequency. Because of this, the station cannot hear the collisions. Since a station cannot listen to its own transmission, if a collision occurs, the
station continues transmitting the complete frame, resulting in a global loss in network performance.
With these specific characteristics in mind, PLC uses a slightly modified protocol compared with CSMA/CD, called the CSMA/CA protocol. The role of
CSMA/CA is not to wait for a collision to occur to react as with CSMA/CD but to
prevent collisions. Therefore, CSMA/CA tries to reduce the number of collisions by
avoiding their occurrence, knowing that a collision is most probable when the
medium is being accessed.
To avoid collisions, CSMA/CA uses various techniques, such as medium listening techniques introduced by the PLC; the back-off algorithm for medium multiple
access management; an optional reservation mechanism, the role of which is to limit
the number of collisions by making sure that the medium is free; and positive
acknowledgment (ACQ) frames.
The CSMA/CA used in the PLC is slightly modified compared with the one used
in Wi-Fi. Using a value that indicates the number of times that a station could not
emit in comparison with other PLC stations with the same medium access priority is
specified in the HomePlug standard. This value, called DC (Deferral Counter),
Transmission Channel Functionalities
increases when a station could not emit, making it possible to bring the use of the
network in line with this priority level.
Figure 3.5 illustrates the operation of the CSMA/CA algorithm in its entirety.
Listening to the Medium
In PLC, the medium is listened to both at the physical layer level with the PCS (physical carrier sense) and at the MAC layer level with the VCS (virtual carrier sense).
The PCS makes it possible to know the state of the medium by sensing the presence of other PLC stations and analyzing the received frames, or by listening to the
medium activity thanks to the relative power of the signal from the various stations.
The PCS relies on listening to certain received frames, preamble frames, and priority frames.
The VCS does not actually allow listening to the medium but reserves it by using
the PCS.
Figure 3.5
CSMA/CA operation in HomePlug 1.0
Two types of mechanisms are used in the VCS:
detection of fields at the beginning of the frame;
wait for response information provided by the frame control fields.
Figure 3.6 illustrates these two medium listening techniques before the data
frames are transmitted over the electrical network.
Access to the Medium
The access to the medium is controlled using a mechanism called IFS (interframe
spacing). This spacing corresponds to the time interval between the transmission of
two frames. In fact, the IFS intervals are idle periods on the transmission medium
used to manage medium accesses for the stations and to establish a priority system
during a transmission.
The values of the various IFSs depend on the physical layer implementation.
Three types of IFS are defined by the HomePlug 1.0 standard:
CIFS (contention distributed interframe spacing). The CIFS is used by stations
wishing access to the medium when it is free, leading to the end of other transmissions during 35.84 μs. The CIFS is followed by the priority solving phase
for each station.
Figure 3.6
Listening to the medium in HomePlug 1.0
Transmission Channel Functionalities
RIFS (response interframe spacing). When a station waits for a response from
the destination station, the latter waits for a RIFS time of 26 μs before transmitting its response. This RIFS is also used by the stations to change from
sending mode to receiving mode.
EIFS (extended interframe spacing). The EIFS corresponds to the maximum
time that is necessary for a station to transmit. It corresponds to the sum of
data frame circulation time in non-ROBO (robust OFDM) mode with its various delimiters, of priority intervals of the CIFS, RIFS, and EFG (End of Frame
Gap), which is 1,695 μs. The EIFS time is also used to determine how long the
medium is occupied after a collision and for the FEC (forward error control)
process, it used to check whether or not there are errors in the received data.
The frame length measurement is not determined in a fully robust manner
when listening to the medium using the VCS method.
Table 3.4 summarizes the IFS and time slot values of HomePlug 1.0 and
HomePlug AV.
The AV version of the HomePlug standard has a number of additional IFS compared with version 1.0.
AIFS (allocation interframe spacing). Used to separate the TDMA and
CSMA/CA allocation areas from the services reserved for the HomePlug AV
B2BIFS (beacon to beacon interframe spacing). Used to separate the various
beacon frames in the specific TDMA allocation area from HomePlug AV beacon frames.
BIFS (burst interframe spacing). Used to separate the various MPDU frames
in the case of the bursting type network mode with access to the CSMA/CA
CIFS AV (contention distributed interframe spacing version AV). Used by the
stations that wish to access the medium in order to separate the transmission
Table 3.4 IFS and Time Slot Values According to the
Physical Layer
Homeplug 1.0
Homeplug AV
Time slot
35.84 μs
35.84 μs
35.84 μs
100 μs
26 μs
30 to 160 μs
140 μs (by default)
1,695 μs
2,920 μs
30 μs
85 μs
20 μs
100 μs
80 μs
frames coming from the source station from the response frames coming from
the destination station.
RGIFS (reverse grant interframe spacing). Used for frame separation in the
Reverse Grant network mode specific to the HomePlug AV standard.
Back-off Algorithm
As explained above, the PLC uses the CSMA/CA method to control access to the
transmission channel.
Since collisions cannot be detected due to the attenuation and noise on the electrical medium, when a PLC station wants to transmit, it must wait until the medium
is available for transmission. The station must wait until an IFS is free for a random
period of time, called back-off time. As there is no guarantee that a collision will not
occur in the meantime, the source (transmitting) station waits for a positive
acknowledgment (ACK) frame from the destination station. The destination station
transmits a good receipt response if the data is received correctly. This ACK
response is transmitted in the next available IFS.
In PLC, the time is sliced into intervals or time slots. These time slots are managed by a timer applied to transmissions and retransmissions of the various stations
so that they both have equal probability of accessing the medium.
The back-off algorithm defines a CW (contention window) or back-off window.
This parameter corresponds to the number of time slots that can be selected to calculate the back-off timer.
It is between the CWmin and CWmax values predefined by the HomePlug standard.
This time slot number, called BC (back-off counter), is used by the back-off procedure when the medium is busy or when the source station has not received an ACK
frame from the destination station. As soon as a station wants to transmit information, it listens to the medium thanks to the PCS defined previously.
If the medium is not busy, it defers its transmission while it waits for an IFS.
When the IFS times out, and if the medium is still free, it directly transmits its frame
without using the back-off algorithm. Otherwise, since the medium is occupied by
another station, the station waits until it is free; it in other words defers its transmission.
To try to access the medium again, it uses the back-off algorithm. If several stations wait for transmission, they all use the back-off algorithm. A station ignores the
number of stations associated with the network. Without this mechanism, by which
each station potentially calculates a different back-off timer to defer its transmission, the stations would directly collide with each other as soon as the medium is
The stations calculate their timer, or TBACKOFF, according to the following formula:
TBACKOFF = Random(0, CW ) × time slot
Random(0,CW) is a uniform pseudorandom variable within the [0, CW – 1]
interval. Therefore, TBACKOFF corresponds to a time slot number. This algorithm randomly extracts various timer values for each station.
Transmission Channel Functionalities
Figure 3.7 illustrates the variation of the contention window (CW) and of the
transmission failure counter (DC) according to the number of retransmissions.
These values change from an initial value to a threshold value, which generally indicates an overall problem with the network over which the station wants to transmit.
When the medium becomes free again, and after a CIFS and frame prioritization
phase, the stations make sure that the medium is still free. If this is the case, they decrement their timer’s time slot by time slot until the timer of a station times out. If the
medium is still free, this station transmits its data by prohibiting access to the
medium to the other stations that block their timers.
The back-off procedure can be used even when no collision occurs. A station
increments its BPC (back-off procedure counter) as soon as a collision is detected or
when the BPC reaches zero. During the back-off, if another station transmits first,
the station checks it’s DC (deferral counter) and decrements it until it reaches zero.
After having decremented its DC, a station blocks its timer at the BPC value.
Once the station transmission is complete, the other stations still wait during a
CIFS and the priority phase. They check whether the medium is occupied during
and after the CIFS, then decrement their timers again where they had blocked this
timer until another station transmits data. However, they do not extract a new
timer value. Since they have already waited for medium access, they are more likely
to have access to it than stations just starting their attempts.
If the DC reaches zero, all the stations waiting for transmission must go through
a back-off procedure and defer the transmission of their data.
When calculating the timer, two or more stations may extract the same timer
value, which therefore times out at the same time, resulting in a simultaneous transmission over the medium and causing a collision. After the back-off procedure, the
stations therefore reset the back-off algorithm for a new transmission if necessary
by obtaining a new CW and DC value. If a station receives a good receipt frame
(ACK), these values are reset to their minimum value.
Number of
Figure 3.7
Number of
Contention window size variation according to the back-off algorithm
If CW and DC reach their maximum value defined by the HomePlug 1.0 standard, these values are maintained, even if the BPC is decremented.
As explained above, when the algorithm is used, the stations of the same network have the same probability of accessing the medium. The only drawback with
this algorithm is that it doesn’t guarantee a minimum time. Therefore, it is difficult
to use within real-time applications such as voice or video.
TDMA and Medium Access in HomePlug AV
Since the CSMA/CA algorithm does not guarantee a minimum transmission time, the
HomePlug AV standard, a HomePlug 1.0 extension, implements an allocation of transmission time slots based on the TDMA (time division multiple access) medium access system.
This medium access system is used for a deterministic allocation of the transmission
times for each station. This allocation is managed by the CCo device, which coordinates
the various network stations’ access to the medium.
Figure 3.8 illustrates the time division of the time spaces in the TDMA multiplexing
technique. We notice that the time base of a transmitted frame is divided into TDMA blocks
corresponding to time spaces dedicated to communications between two stations. During
the TDMA1 block, for example, only stations 1 and 2 communicate between themselves.
This ensures the time organization of the communication over the PLC network.
Therefore, HomePlug AV specifies determined time periods corresponding to two periods of the 220 V/50 Hz electrical signal synchronized on signal zero crossings. These TDMA
time areas are divided into several determined and fixed time allocations. One of the time
allocations is reserved for CSMA/CA frames and frame exchanges complying with the
HomePlug 1.0 and HomePlug AV standards.
Figure 3.8
Time division of TDMA time spaces for a PLC frame
Transmission Channel Functionalities
Data Transmission Example
When a source station wants to transmit data to a destination station, it makes sure
that the medium is not busy. If no activity is sensed during a time period corresponding to a CIFS, the source station waits for the prioritization period then transmits its data.
Figure 3.9 illustrates the role of the timers during the transmission of a data
frame and its acknowledgment.
If the medium is busy, the station waits until it is free. Once the medium is free,
the station waits during a CIFS then, after having checked that the medium is free,
initiates the back-off algorithm to defer once again its transmission in order to avoid
any collision. When the timer of the back-off algorithm times out, and if the
medium is free, the source station transmits its data to the destination station.
When two stations or more have simultaneous access to the medium, a collision
occurs. In this case, these stations reuse the back-off algorithm to have access to the
medium. If the sent data is received correctly—to know this, the destination station
checks the data frame CRC—the station involved waits during an RIFS time interval and sends an ACK to confirm the correct receipt.
If this ACK is not sensed by the source station, if the data is not received correctly, or if the ACK is not received correctly, a collision has supposedly occurred
and the retransmission procedure is initiated.
The ARQ (Automatic Repeat Request) Process
When a source station transmits its data over the medium, it waits for an acknowledgment frame from the destination station. This frame is potentially followed by a
procedure for the retransmission of non-received or erroneous data called ARQ
(automatic repeat request).
Figure 3.9
Role of the timers in data transmission
The destination station can resend three types of acknowledgment frames:
ACK. The destination station has correctly received the data contained in the
frames and this data is correct.
NACK. The destination station has correctly received the data but some data
is damaged. This check is carried out using the CRC (cyclic redundancy check)
value. The destination station then asks the source station to resend the damaged data segment.
FAIL. The data has not reached the destination station or the station buffer is
full and cannot receive and process the data.
Figure 3.10 illustrates, in terms of time, the various acknowledgment response
types in the HomePlug 1.0 PLC standard. This process improves the medium access
quality by allowing exchanges between the source stations and the destination stations.
The source and destination stations use one of the fields present in the data
frame to determine the response frame that will be resent to the source station. This
field, which is called FCS (frame check sequence), is used to check the integrity of the
data received by the destination station.
In the same way, the destination station resends the acknowledgment with a
part of this field, the RFCS (response FCS) field. This field is used by the source station to know whether the data has been correctly received by comparing the transmitted FCS with the received RFCS (see Figure 3.11).
Figure 3.10
Acknowledgment frames in the ARQ process
Transmission Channel Functionalities
Figure 3.11
Frame check using the FCS and RFCS fields in the ARQ process
ACK Response
In the case of an ACK acknowledgment by the source station, the destination station
resends to it a response frame containing the RFCS field of the data frame transmitted by the source station. This field is used by the station to know whether the data
has been correctly received by the destination station or whether a collision that
may have caused a corruption of the data transmitted over the medium occurred.
Figure 3.12 illustrates this acknowledgment mechanism in the HomePlug 1.0
Figure 3.12
ACK type acknowledgment in HomePlug 1.0
NACK Response
In the case a NACK type acknowledgment, the destination station resends to the
source station a response frame after a contention period in order to indicate that the
data has been damaged during the transmission. The source station resends in its
turn to the destination station a confirmation of the NACK acknowledgment and
retransmits the damaged data frame segment (see Figure 3.13).
FAIL Response
The FAIL response indicates that the destination station could not use the received
data frame due to a collision or a congestion of the data receipt buffer. The destination station cannot foresee the data rate that it will receive and can be incapable of
storing all the received data.
A 10-ms contention period specific to FAIL responses is mandatory in this case
(see Figure 3.14).
The destination station records the number of times that the FAIL status
has appeared in the segment. If this number exceeds a given threshold, the
destination station asks the source station to resend the service block from the first
Figure 3.13
NACK-type acknowledgment in HomePlug 1.0
Transmission Channel Functionalities
Figure 3.14
FAIL response in HomePlug 1.0
SACK Response in HomePlug AV
In the AV version of the HomePlug standard, an additional response, the SACK (Selective
ACK) response, has been added to compensate for the fact that the PLC links between two
stations are not necessarily symmetrical in terms of useful throughput. Due to the characteristics of the electrical network, the data transmissions are not under the same influences
in one direction as in the other one. The SACK response is used by the central device of the
PLC network, the CCo, to manage global links, i.e., the various links between PLC stations
of the network, and the transmission time allocations within the framework of the TDMA
medium access technique.
Synchronization and Frame Controls
The frames are checked using the FCS field that is included in the data block of the
frame. This field is used by the destination station to resend the suitable response
type (ACK, NACK, or FAIL) to the source station.
The source station then checks the integrity of this response using the RFCS
field of the response frame, as illustrated in Figure 3.15.
The response frame is sent by the destination station after an interframe period
of 26 μs minimum and 1,695 μs maximum (see Figure 3.16). Since the defined size
of the response frame is much shorter than the data frames, it is much more likely to
be transmitted and does not occupy much of the total bandwidth.
Figure 3.15
Frame check sequence (FCS)
Figure 3.16
Management of interframe spaces
Synchronization of HomePlug AV Frames
Recent PLC developments made it possible to improve the performance of the
devices while keeping the interoperability with the devices of previous versions.
Within the HomePlug consortium, the latest developments made it possible to pub-
Transmission Channel Functionalities
lish the specifications of the HomePlug AV (for Audio and Video) version which is
much more efficient for the management of the quality of service (QoS).
Figure 3.17 illustrates the organization of the beacon frames in HomePlug AV.
This standard, based on a master-slave architecture, uses CSMA and TDMA
medium access functionalities. CSMA is preferred for data traffic with a medium or
no priority level and TDMA for data traffic with priority, for which the QoS is
important (real-time data flow, like in VoIP, or high data flows, like in VoD).
The QoS management is obtained by means of a very efficient technique specific
to PLC technologies that consists of synchronizing TDMA beacon frames on the 50
or 60 Hz signal of the electrical network. This fully deterministic signal is synchronized over the entire public electrical network and private electrical networks.
Therefore, the PLC devices can be synchronized without a specific clock by using 50
or 60 Hz signal zero crossings.
This technique makes it possible to obtain the efficient determinisms that critical data communications require. The master of the PLC network manages the allocations for access to the TDMA slots between the slave devices of the network
according to their requirements.
Managing Frame Priorities
The frame priority for medium access is managed by the CAP (channel access priority) field and the size of the contention window (CW), as illustrated in Figure 3.18.
The CAP variable affects the medium access as we have seen in Figure 3.7,
where the CW and DC parameters are set by the back-off procedure and given by
the correspondence table according to the respective CAP values of the network
PLC devices.
Figure 3.17
Synchronization of HomePlug AV beacon frames on the 50 Hz signal
Figure 3.18
Frame priority management by the CAP (channel access priority) variable
The CAP variable is used by a PLC station to inform the other stations of its
medium access priority. This variable determines the values of the PRP1 and PRP2
priority frame data that is read by the network PLC stations to determine the various
priority levels. Therefore, the other stations are informed in advance of the priority
of each of the PLC devices.
This entire process, called VCS (virtual carrier sense), is used in conjunction
with PCS (physical carrier sense) during medium access attempts.
Managing Frequency Channels (Tone Map)
As we have seen before, there are several OFDM symbol modulation techniques
according to the quality of the PLC links between the devices. Unlike Wi-Fi, where
each station can configure the frequency channel over which it wishes to transmit
data, in PLC, the entire frequency band is used.
Figure 3.19 illustrates a simple network with four PLC stations. Each of them
assesses the quality of the PLC link connecting it to the other stations. It then stores
this information in the correspondence table of a register of the PLC device. This
register can be accessed using one of the beginning frame delimiter fields called a
tone map. Each station regularly updates the tone map table; the updating time may
vary from 10 ms to several seconds according to the PLC station parameterization.
It may happen that some stations see each other at the PLC level whereas other
stations do not see each other. It is important that the stations used as a gateway to
other networks see all the stations involved by the other network. For example, in
the case of Figure 3.19, PLC1 cannot have access to the Internet since, though the
links to PLC2 and PLC3 are correct, the transmission channel cannot be used
towards PLC4. If the electrical wiring is too long or if the electrical network is too
disturbed, this results in an attenuation and a degradation of the PLC signal making
upper layer data communications impossible.
Figure 3.20 illustrates all the fields of the start delimiter. In the variable field, the
first five bits are used by the tone map table. This tone map is used to store the status
of the links toward fifteen other PLC stations. This determines the limit relating to
Transmission Channel Functionalities
Figure 3.19
Tone map management between PLC devices
the number of possible PLC stations in the same PLC network (16 stations for
HomePlug 1.0 and 1.1 and 250 stations in HomePlug AV). Some values are
reserved for the ROBO mode or for particular implementations of the HomePlug
1.0 standard.
Segment Bursting and Contention-Free Access
Two particular modes, segment bursting and contention-free access, are used to
have access to a higher priority on the PLC network in order to send the successive
segments of a service block without waiting for mandatory contention windows
before transmitting the frames.
In the case of segment bursting, PLC stations with priority level CA3 can set the
CC (Contention Control) parameter to 1. It is then possible for the source station to
transmit two consecutive segments without waiting for a high contention value.
This mode improves the performance and can prove useful for applications of the
VoIP type demanding a particular priority exception.
Figure 3.21 illustrates the functionality of segment bursting, which makes it
possible for a PLC device to transmit a series of service blocks with maximum priority (CA3).
In the case of contention free access (CFA), the source station is allowed to send
all the segments with priority CA3 and to transmit seven consecutive MPDU by setting the CC field to 1.
Data frame size
(number of blocks with
40 OFDM symbols
and next blocks with 20)
Figure 3.20
HomePlug 1.0 start delimiter details and associated tone map
Figure 3.21
Segment bursting mode management
Frame Level Functionalities
It is important to remind the structure of the data frames transported over the electrical network in order to understand the network functionalities of the PLC technologies.
Frame Level Functionalities
The network modeling into seven layers according to the OSI model makes it
possible to understand how the PLC technologies structure data exchanges for
each protocol layer. The PLC technologies come into play at the PHY and MAC
layer levels only. Because of this, they are considered as IEEE 802.3 Ethernet
networks from their interfaces. Therefore, the network engineers only have to
consider the IP, TCP, and application configurations seen by the user of PLC
Figure 3.22 illustrates the place of PLC technologies with regard to the layers of
the OSI model.
MAC Encapsulation
Unlike IEEE 802.11 frames, on which the protocol layers of the Wi-Fi technologies
are based, the PLC frames can be considered as MAC encapsulations.
Figure 3.23 illustrates the MAC encapsulation of HomePlug 1.0 PLC frames.
From the point of view of the data link layer, the MAC Ethernet frames are
de-encapsulated from the physical frames for their presentation to the Ethernet
interface of the PLC devices.
Figure 3.22
PLC technologies and the OSI model
Figure 3.23
MAC encapsulation in HomePlug 1.0
Fragmentation Reassembly
In a PLC transmission using a shared medium disturbed by other uses with a wired
Ethernet link using a cable dedicated to data communications, the error rate for the
electrical wiring is higher (10–5 for the electrical wiring against 10–9 for the Ethernet
The PLC link may be subjected to various constraints, such as attenuation due to
interference, multipath over the electrical wiring, or electrical wiring crosstalk
effects. These constraints result in the attenuation of the signal power, which no longer makes it possible for the PLC link to deliver data correctly.
A high error rate results in the retransmission of all the erroneous data sent over
the network. This retransmission entails a high cost in terms of use of the bandwidth, especially when the size of the data sent is high.
To avoid wasting the bandwidth to a large extent, a fragmentation mechanism is
used; it reduces the number of retransmissions in environments with a high noise
level like PLC.
The data frames of the network layers (IP, and so forth) or of upper layers are seen
by the data link layer as successive MPDUs (Mac Protocol Data Unit) forming SB
(service blocks). The SB are then sliced into segments with 1,500 bytes maximum.
Therefore, the size of a segment can be 1,500 bytes or less. In the latter case, it is
filled with padding bits in order to obtain a MPDU with a fixed size. The 1,500 byte
size corresponds to 160 OFDM symbols for the physical layer.
Each of the segments forming the SB is numbered for its recognition; this makes
it possible to reconstitute the SB sent by the source station (source address at MAC
level) to the destination station (destination address).
Figure 3.24 illustrates the various segments sent by the source station and numbered for their identification by the destination station. As we shall see with the
ARQ functionalities of the MAC layer, if one of the SB segments is not received by
Other Functionalities
Pair <SA, P>
Pair <SA, P> = Source Address, priority
Figure 3.24
Data frame fragmentation
the destination station or is damaged when it is received, NACK (non-acknowledgment) or FAIL (failure) processes are implemented between the source station and
the destination station prior to the resending of the missing or damaged segments.
When they are received, the segments are buffered and indexed in the reassembly
buffer of the destination station with the station address and priority. Once all the
segments of a SB are received, the data block is de-encapsulated and transmitted to
the OSI model upper layers. The SB then form IP frames with TCP or UDP headers.
The reassembly buffer can then be emptied so that the next frames can be
received. The size of the buffer is intended to favor the maximum transmission
speed over the transmission channel. However, since access to the medium (CSMA)
is not deterministic, the buffer cannot anticipate the segment transmission speed
and can find itself in a saturation situation, in which it can no longer accept additional segments. It then asks the source station to resend the segments that are not
processed at a later time.
Other Functionalities
The PLC implement other network functionalities in order to optimize the use of the
transmission channel, in particular in terms of data transmission speed.
This is achieved with the dynamic adaptation of the data rate at the physical
level according to the quality of the PLC links.
Optimum use of the global bandwidth can also be made by sending the data
only to the PLC devices involved. These functionalities correspond to those found in
other network technologies, such as Wi-Fi.
Dynamic Adaptation of the Bit Rate
As indicated before, the PLC technology permanently readjusts the condition of the
links between network stations.
Since the PLC links depend on the medium condition and interference with the
other electrical devices connected to the network or inductive, the transmission
speed must be permanently readjusted by choosing the modulation mode for OFDM
symbols forming the frames.
For the user, the useful bit rate between the terminals connected to the PLC network dynamically varies according to the PLC links.
Table 3.5 lists the various transmission speeds or PHY bit rate of the PLC
devices of the HomePlug 1.0 standard according to the tone map determined for
each station with regard to the other stations of the network.
Unicast, Broadcast, and Multicast
Insofar as the PLC can be seen as MAC encapsulation techniques, the various modes
for MAC frame sending, whether these are unicast, broadcast, or multicast modes,
are authorized.
In the unicast mode, a network station transmits data to a single other station
using its MAC address. In broadcast mode, on the contrary, a station transmits its
data to all the stations of the network using a MAC address dedicated to this mode
and with all the bits to 1. In multicast mode, a station transmits to a group of other
network stations using a single MAC address for the entire station group. For this
purpose, the station group with the associated MAC addresses must have been predefined. A prefix is used by the multicast MAC addresses for their recognition on the
network. This prefix uses the first twenty-four bits (out of 48) of the MAC address.
As we’ll see in Chapter 5, the broadcast and multicast modes are supported
using the multicast flag (on one bit) of the block control field of the MPDU data
Table 3.5
Dynamic Bit Rates of the HomePlug 1.0 Standard
23/39 to 238/254
23/39 to 238/254
23/39 to 238/254
31/39 to 43/51
139 possible
PHY bit rates
between 0.9 and
Other Functionalities
The unicast mode is also possible: since the PLC stations are identified by their
MAC address, if a station knows the MAC address of another station, it can address
the MPDU directly and solely to this station.
Service Quality
The quality of service, which has become very important in IP networks, is used to
differentiate the priorities of the various traffic over the network. As we’ll see in
Chapter 6, the IP services require different constraints in terms of transmission
speed, network travel time, and jitter between the frames transmitted over the network.
These constraints are decisive for applications and for the upper layers of the
OSI model to maintain a TCP connection for HTTPS traffic, an FTP connection,
and so forth.
Therefore, it is necessary to implement priority levels for MAC level and physical level frames according to the constraints of the upper layer applications. This
must be done in the frames insofar as the medium is shared as a MAC level network
The quality of service is made possible in PLC networks with the priorities of
the network devices. These priorities are indicated by the CAP parameter, which is
interpreted during the priority (PRP1 and PRP2) resolution periods just before the
contention frames.
Figure 3.25 illustrates the priority levels (CA0, CA1, CA2, and CA3) in the
PRP1 and PRP2 priority resolution periods. The contention bit included in the end
Figure 3.25
Quality of service management
delimiter and response frames is used to prioritize the frames with respect to those of
the stations with the same priority level or a lower priority level.
Using VLAN Labels
The use of VLAN labels is compatible with PLC technologies, since the value of
these labels is interpreted in the value of the PLC station CAP parameter.
One of the advantages of PLC technologies is to allow the creation of virtual networks at several OSI layer levels (PLC virtual networks, VLAN networks, overlay
MAC layers, and so forth) providing high flexibility to PLC network integrators.
VLAN labels allow the implementation of a number of IP services for various
data traffic and application levels, particularly the following:
RSVP (reservation protocol);
Internet Subnet Bandwidth Manager;
DiffServ for Multimedia Traffic;
IEEE 802.1D.
Security has been the main problem for Wi-Fi networks. In the case of PLC, this is
not so much of a concern as it is difficult to have access to the physical medium. In
Wi-Fi, as the transmission medium used is radio, anyone in the network coverage
area can intercept its traffic or even reconfigure the network at will. Although the
PLC electrical wiring is also a medium shared by the various network devices, it is
much more difficult to have access to it and it involves major dangers due to the
presence of the 110-220 V/50-60 Hz signal.
However, since the electrical network has a universal extension, the wiring
propagates the PLC signal outside the limits of the private electrical network in a
conducted or radiated way, which implies the implementation of suitable software
security levels.
Current PLC networks can be secured in the same manner as high bit rate wired
fixed networks. Any threat can be eliminated by adding authentication servers or
secured tunnels, for example.
Security is a major issue for the deployment of local area networks in companies, where the development of IP telephony applications is sustained. In such a
background, it is essential to have reliable security mechanisms to avoid any unauthorized listening to communications.
Overview of Network Security Issues
As with any other network, PLC can be subjected to various types of attacks either
to interfere with PLC operation or to intercept the transmitted information. However, the advantage of PLC networks comes from the medium they use — the electrical wiring, which makes them particularly resistant to attacks since they are not
easily accessible. To avoid any information disclosure, the network traffic must be
encrypted in such a way that anyone not belonging to a PLC logical network cannot
recover and decipher it.
In addition to eavesdropping, the main attacks to which a network can be subjected are those that aim at preventing its operation until it collapses or at having
access to it and reconfiguring it as wished.
The only counterattacks in response to these types of attacks are cryptography,
which prevents intruders from having access to data exchanged over the network;
authentication, which allows the identification and authorization of anybody wishing
to send data; and integrity control, which is used to know whether the data sent was not
modified during the transmission.
Making a text or message incomprehensible through the use of an algorithm is not
new. The Egyptians, like the Romans, employed methods used to encode a text or a
message. These techniques, which were relatively simple originally, have changed,
and cryptography has been recognized as a science since World War II.
The basic principle of cryptography is illustrated in Figure 4.1. An encryption
key is used to encode a plain text. The cryptogram is then sent to the recipient. The
recipient uses a deciphering key in order to reconstitute the plain text. At any time
during the transmission, somebody can recover the encrypted text, called a cryptogram, and try to decipher it using various methods.
Cryptography only involves encryption design and methods. Trying to decipher encrypted
text is called cryptanalysis. Cryptology designates the study of cryptography and cryptanalysis.
In France, for example, there are strict regulations concerning the length of the
keys used for encryption purposes. A key with a maximum length of 40 bits can be
used for any public or private use. For private use, the length of the key may not
exceed 128 bits. For a key length exceeding 128 bits, the key must be transmitted to
the local cyber security authorities. In the USA or in Japan, the regulations are different and one should take care to know the restrictions on the length of keys authorized to be used.
There are two cryptography techniques: symmetric-key cryptography and
asymmetric-key cryptography, better known as public-key cryptography.
Symmetric-Key Cryptography
Symmetric-key cryptography is based on the use of a single key used to encrypt and
unscramble data. All persons wishing to transmit data securely must therefore share
the same secret: the key. This process is illustrated in Figure 4.2.
The clear fault in this system resides in how this secret key is shared and transmitted between the sender and the receiver.
Figure 4.1
Data encryption
Overview of Network Security Issues
Figure 4.2
Symmetric-key cryptography
Various symmetric-key cryptography algorithms have been developed, in particular DES (data encryption standard), IDEA (international data encryption algorithm), series RC2 to RC6, and AES (advanced encryption standard).
DES (Data Encryption Standard)
The DES algorithm was jointly developed in the seventies by IBM and the NSA
(National Security Agency). The DES is an encryption algorithm known as “by
blocks.” The length of the key used is fixed (40 or 56 bits). The purpose of the DES
is to carry out a set of permutations and substitutions between the key and the text
to be encrypted so as to encode the information.
The encryption mechanism follows several steps:
1. The text to be encrypted is divided into 64-bit blocks (8 bits are used for parity check).
2. The various blocks are subjected to an initial permutation.
3. Each block is divided into two 32-bit parts, a right part and a left part.
4. Sixteen rounds are performed on half blocks. A round is a set of permutations and substitutions. On each round, the data and the key are combined.
5. At the end of the sixteen rounds, the two right and left half blocks are
merged and a reverse initial permutation is carried out on the blocks.
Once all the blocks have been encrypted, they are reassembled in order to create
the encrypted text that will be sent over the network. Decryption is carried out in
the encryption reverse order by still using the same key.
Until recently, the DES was the reference for symmetric-key cryptography. It
was used and is still used by many systems. It is used by the information exchange
protocol secured by SSL (secure sockets layer) Internet v1.0, for example, with a
40-bit key.
However, the DES hasn’t been used since 1998 as its reliability was considered
to be poor. Its encryption algorithm has been altered and improved.
3-DES, or triple-DES, uses three DES one after the other. Therefore, the data is
encrypted then deciphered then encrypted with two or three different keys. The size
of the 3-DES key may be 118 bits in size. Because of this, it cannot be used in France.
3-DES is considered as being reasonably secure.
IDEA (International Data Encryption Algorithm)
The IDEA (international data encryption algorithm) is an algorithm with a 128-bit
key length. The text to be encrypted is divided into four sub-blocks. Eight rounds are
performed on each of these sub-blocks. Each round is a combination of exclusive
“or,” addition modulo 216 and multiplication modulo 216. On each round, the data
and the key are combined. This technique makes the IDEA particularly secure.
The IDEA is implemented in PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), which is the world’s
most widely used software.
The RC2 algorithm was developed by Ron Rivest, who gave it the name Ron’s Code
2. It is based on an algorithm in 64-bit blocks. It is twice or even three times faster
than DES with a maximum key length of 2,048 bits.
The algorithm is the property of RSA Security and is used in SSL v2.0.
RC4 (Ron’s Code 4) no longer uses blocks but encrypts by stream. Its specific characteristic resides in the fact that it uses pseudorandom permutations for data encryption and deciphering.
Two mechanisms are defined by RC4:
KSA (Key Scheduling Algorithm). This algorithm generates a status table
using the encryption key by means of simple permutations.
PRGA (Pseudorandom Generator Algorithm). The status table generated by
KSA is placed in a pseudorandom number generator (PRNG) which creates
the key stream by means of complex permutations.
Unlike the other algorithms, the data is not divided into blocks for their encryption or decryption. In RC4, the encryption corresponds to the addition of data to the
key stream using an exclusive “or,” whereas the decryption corresponds to the addition of encrypted data to the same key stream still using an exclusive “or.”
RC4 is faster than RC2. Like RC2, it is the property of RSA Security. RC4 is
used in SSL v2.0 and SSL v3.0 to secure connections and in the WEP protocol of
IEEE standard series 802.11.
Overview of Network Security Issues
RC5 and RC6
RC5, another proprietary algorithm of RSA Security, is an encryption algorithm in
blocks with a variable block size between 32 and 128 bits, a variable round number
between 0 and 255, and a dynamic key length between 0 and 2,040 bits.
RC6 is an improved version of RC5 so therefore uses its characteristics. The
only difference relates to the addition of new mathematical operations at the
Like DES, blowfish is an encryption algorithm in 64-bit blocks. Its key, based on
DES, has a variable size between 40 and 448 bits. This algorithm is particularly fast
and reliable.
Like blowfish, twofish is an encryption algorithm in 128-bit blocks on 16 rounds
with a variable key length. It is also both reliable and fast.
AES (Advanced Encryption Standard)
The AES is the result of a call for tender launched in 2000 by the NIST (National
Institute of Standards and Technology) to replace the DES, which was seen as unreliable. Several algorithms were proposed, such as RC6 and Twofish, but Rijndael
was chosen because it is simple and fast. Its name is now AES.
AES is an algorithm in 128-bit blocks, or 16 bytes, for K encryption key of 128,
192, or 256 bits. Depending on the key size, the number of rounds is 10, 12, and 14,
For each round, AES defines four simple operations:
SubBytes, nonlinear substitution (S) mechanism that is different for each
encrypted data block.
ShiftRows, permutation (P) mechanism that shifts the block elements.
MixColumns, transformation (M) mechanism that carries out a multiplication between block elements not in a conventional way but in a GF(28) Galois
AddRoundkey, key derivation algorithm. It defines in each round a new
encryption key, Ki, where i corresponds to the ith round from encryption key
The data is divided into 128-bit blocks before encryption. The first encryption
stage consists of adding the data block with the encryption key by means of an
exclusive “or.” Then, each block is subjected to ten rounds in a row, each made up
of a substitution (S), a permutation (P) and a transformation (M). At the end of each
round, a new encryption key is derived from the initial key, and the result of operation M is added to this key, Ki, by means of an exclusive ”or," all of which is sent to
the next round. At the end of the last round, which does not require transformation
mechanism M, the data block is considered encrypted.
Once all the blocks for a given message are encrypted, they are reassembled in
order to create the encrypted message that can then be transmitted over the network.
The AES encryption procedure is illustrated in Figure 4.3.
Decryption is the opposite process of encryption as illustrated in Figure 4.4.
AES, which was used by the U.S. administration to replace DES, was also chosen
as the new encryption algorithm for the IEEE 802.11i standard to replace RC4.
Public-Key Cryptography
The public-key cryptography technique solves the main problem with symmetric
keys, which resides in the key transmission.
Two types of keys are used with public-key cryptography:
A private key for data decryption. This key must remain confidential.
A public key, which is placed at the disposal of all the users. This key is used
for data encryption.
There is a mathematical link between these two keys, so finding the value of one
of the two keys from the other one is very difficult.
The public key is sent over the network in plain text so it can be encrypted. The
recipient uses his private key for data decryption as soon as the encrypted data has
been received. This process is illustrated in Figure 4.5.
Figure 4.3
AES encryption
Figure 4.4
AES decryption
Overview of Network Security Issues
Figure 4.5
Public-key cryptography
As with symmetric-key cryptography, various algorithms are used, in particular
RSA (Rivest, Shamir, Adelman) and Diffie-Hellman.
Though this technique makes it possible to compensate for the shortcomings of
symmetric cryptography, i.e., key transmission, it is much slower than symmetric
RSA (Rivest, Shamir, Adelman)
This public-key algorithm is named after its three inventors, Ron Rivest, Adi
Shamir, and Leonard Adelman. RSA, which was created in 1977, was the first public-key algorithm. Its strength resides in the supposed difficulty to factorize large
RSA uses keys with a variable length (512, 1,024, and 2,048 bits). 512-bit keys
are not considered to be very reliable. RSA is still used nowadays by SSL, IPsec, and
many other applications. RSA is deemed reliable with reasonable key lengths until
future mathematical advances are made.
This other public-key algorithm, which was invented by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman, was the first encryption algorithm put on the market. As it is vulnerable to some types of attacks, it is preferably used with the help of a certification
One of its characteristics is to enable two people to share a secret without
requiring a safe transmission. It is still used today.
Mixed-Key Cryptography
Mixed-key cryptography, illustrated in Figure 4.6, uses the two aforementioned
techniques, i.e. symmetric-key cryptography and public-key cryptography. It combines in this way the advantages of the two techniques while avoiding their disadvantages. Their disadvantages are well known, as symmetric-key cryptography does
not enable secured key transmissions and the public-key cryptography uses algorithms that are too slow for data encryption.
When sending data, the sender encrypts the message with a secret key using a
symmetric-key algorithm. At the same time, this secret key is encrypted by the
sender with the public key generated by the recipient. The secret key can be transmitted reliably and securely in this way.
Encrypting a secret key on 128 bits using a public key algorithm is very fast considering the size of this key. It is then transmitted to the recipient. The recipient
decrypts the secret key of the sender with his or her private key. The recipient now
has the uncoded secret key and can use it to decrypt the message.
Another advantage of this technique is that it is no longer necessary to encrypt a
message several times when it is intended for several recipients. As the encrypted
message is transmitted with its secret key, all you have to do is encrypt this key with
the various public keys of the recipients.
Electronic Signatures
The electronic signature is used to identify and authenticate the data sender. It is also
used to check that the data transmitted over the network has not been changed.
Figure 4.6
Mixed-key cryptography
Overview of Network Security Issues
A message to be sent can be signed using various techniques. One of them uses
public-key algorithms but hash functions are mostly used.
Use of Public Keys
In addition to confidentiality, public-key cryptography has the advantage of allowing message sender authentications. The electronic signature is the second use for
public keys.
For authentication purposes, the sender uses his or her private key to sign a message. The receiver uses the public key of the sender to make sure that the message
has been signed. In this way, the receiver can check that the data has not been modified and that it has been sent by the sender.
Figure 4.7 illustrates how public-key authentication operates.
Although messages can actually be signed using this technique, confidentiality
is not guaranteed, as the encrypted message and the public key may be intercepted
and the data contents could be accessed.
The Hash Function
The hash function provides an alternative to the use of signatures using public and
private keys.
The purpose of the hash function is to create a kind of digital digest of the message that must be sent. The size of this digest is very small compared with that of the
message. Another characteristic of this technique is that it is very difficult, or even
impossible, to find the original message again from its digest. This ensures the
authenticity and integrity of the message sent.
Figure 4.7
Public-key authentication
Figure 4.8 illustrates a sender who wishes to send a message while making sure
of its authenticity. For this purpose, a message digest is created by the sender by
means of hash function H. The message and its digest are sent to the recipient applying the same hash function H to the received message in order to compare the new
digest with the received digest. If the digests are the same, this means that the message has not been modified.
On the Internet, we increasingly come across files to be downloaded with their digests,
generally MD5, intended to check the integrity of the received data.
The hash function is often combined with public-key cryptography. The process
is the following:
1. The sender hashes the message.
2. The digest is encrypted with the sender’s private key.
3. The message, the public key of the sender, and the encrypted digest are sent
over the network.
4. The recipient receives the message, which he hashes in turn to extract a new
digest from it.
5. This digest is compared with the digest he has received in the encrypted condition. The digest is decrypted by the recipient using the public key provided
by the sender.
6. If the two digests match, the message is authenticated.
This process is illustrated in Figure 4.9.
Figure 4.8
Message hash
Overview of Network Security Issues
Figure 4.9
Hash and public key
Various hash techniques are used, in particular the following ones:
MD2, MD4, and MD5. Message digests 2, 4, and 5 were developed by Ron
Rivest for RSA Security. These are hash functions that all produce digests with
a size of 128 bits. MD2 is the most reliable but is optimized only for 8-bit
machines, whereas the other two are optimized for 32-bit machines. MD4
was abandoned since it is too sensitive to certain attacks. MD5 is an evolution
of MD4. It is considered as reliable, even if it is vulnerable to certain attacks,
and is used in many applications. MD5 has been standardized by IETF under
RFC 1321.
SHA and SHA1. SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm) and its evolution were developed by NSA. These two algorithms produce 160-bit digests for a message
which may reach a size of two million terabytes. The size of its digest makes it
very difficult to crack, but it is slower than MD5 Network attacks.
The networks have been subjected to various types of attacks at all times. These
may be passive attacks, like in the case of listening to a network for the purpose of
recovering information by “cracking” the various passwords and encryption keys.
In other cases, these are active attacks. The attacker attempts to take control of
machines or to damage some machine devices.
The most common attacks are the following:
Denial of service (DoS) attack. This attack, which is among the most feared,
consists of flooding a network with messages so that the network devices can
no longer process them, sometimes up to the point of collapse.
Brute force attack. This attack consists of working through all the possible
combinations in order to recover a password or an encryption key used in a
Dictionary attack. This attack is used to recover a password or a key by using
a database containing many words.
Spoofing attack. This attack is based on identity usurpation in order to access
the network. It is generally associated with brute force or dictionary attacks
that are used to access certain information, like the login and password of a
Attack on exploiting holes in security. Many protocols and operating systems
are vulnerable due to their design. These flaws can be used either to make it
possible for the attacker to get into the machine or in the network, or to gain
control of the machine or recover data.
Virus, worm, and Trojan horse attacks. These attacks are very well known
and make it possible either to damage files or even machine components, or to
gain control of a machine (viruses and worms) and to exploit its resources
(Trojan horse).
Security for PLC Networks
HomePlug implements a PLC private network system based on encryption keys
known by authorized PLC devices in this network for increased PLC network security.
This mechanism is based on the secure, reliable, and simple registration for the
network manager or user of the various PLC devices of the same logical network.
These functionalities make the deployment of PLC networks easier.
The main characteristics of the registration of a PLC device in a PLC network
are the following:
Security. A device can be registered in a PLC network only if it has the suitable
encryption keys and only if it is authorized and registered by the network managing devices. It must be possible to easily attach new devices and also to
quickly remove devices from a PLC network.
Reliability. The same PLC network must provide stability in the configuration of encryption keys and support the electrical connections/disconnections
of the network PLC devices in a stable manner. It must also be possible to
recover an original configuration if the keys are lost or if a device is
Simplicity. Managing the configuration of the encryption keys of the various
PLC logical networks must be simple for a network manager. For this purpose, a single key used for data exchange encryption over the electrical network is defined by HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo. HomePlug AV, which is more
sophisticated, defines several network keys that are managed by the network
coordinating device that centralizes the keys.
Security for PLC Networks
Therefore, a PLC logical network is based on an encryption key called a NEK
(network encryption key) in the HomePlug specification that encrypts the data
exchanged between the various PLC devices (see Figure 4.10).
A PLC network can be configured with a NEK in several ways:
Via the Ethernet interface. A configuration frame of the NEK is sent in broadcast mode to the PLC devices of the same network using a configuration tool.
All the PLC devices connected by means of their Ethernet interface recover
this configuration.
Via the electrical interface. A configuration frame of the NEK is sent by means
of the electrical network to the connected PLC devices. This is only possible if
a second key, called DEK (default encryption key) is known. This key, which
is specific to each PLC device, is recorded in the device memory by the manufacturer by following HomePlug specifications. The DEK is used by two PLC
devices—the configuring station device and the device which must receive the
new NEK—for the encrypted NEK exchange over the electrical network.
Via a Web interface. If the PLC devices are advanced, like those of the Asoka
USA brand, the key configurations can be managed by a single Web interface.
Access to the Physical Medium
In Wi-Fi, the transmission medium is shared. Therefore, anyone in the network coverage area can intercept its traffic or even reconfigure the network at will. In addition, if a malevolent person is rather well equipped, this person does not need to be
in the network coverage area. The person just has to use an antenna with or without
amplifier assistance to have access to it.
In the case of PLC, the transmission medium is also shared, but the access to the
physical medium is much more difficult and especially potentially dangerous.
Figure 4.10
PLC logical networks with various NEK
However, several more or less realistic techniques are used to have access to the
data exchanged over a PLC network; in particular, these techniques consist of:
Using a PLC device with the suitable NEK key for the targeted network.
Recovering the physical data via the electromagnetic radiations emitted by the
PLC network in the environment close to the electrical wiring. However, this
requires a complex and costly acquisition chain.
Constructing a specific PLC device capable of recovering the encrypted physical frames in order to attempt to decrypt them.
Figure 4.11 illustrates the internal design of a PLC device with its two interfaces:
on the one hand, the Ethernet interface connected to an Ethernet network where
uncoded frames circulate; and on the other hand, the PLC interface connected to the
electrical network where encrypted frames circulate.
A PLC device consists of an electrical interface that sends and receives the
frames over the electrical network, and of an Ethernet interface (RJ-45 connector),
which sends and receives frames over the Ethernet network. Between these two
interfaces, the data only flows if the device has the right NEK from the PLC
If a PLC device does not have the network NEK, the Ethernet frames are not
available on the Ethernet interface. Therefore, the encrypted PLC frames cannot be
accessed easily.
Figure 4.11
Internal design of a PLC device used to encrypt exchanged frames
Security for PLC Networks
Access to Physical Frames
The data exchanged over a PLC network is carried in PLC frames known as “physical frames.”
The PLC frames circulate over the electrical network between all the outlets in
encrypted form. As explained above, it is difficult to have access to the physical
medium. Because of this, the frames are relatively protected from attacks intended
to accumulate enough frames to try them out with a brute forcing tool intended to
try out all the combinations or using various decryption algorithms.
In addition, the PLC frames are carried in several frequency bands; each of these
bands may use various information transport techniques, i.e., binary data modulation techniques over the transmission channel.
As we have seen in Chapters 2 and 3, the various network PLC devices permanently adapt their digital transmission technique according to the quality of the PLC
links, i.e., the capacity of the transmission channel in terms of bit rate. For this purpose, the tone map indexes the links between the PLC device storing it and all the
other network PLC devices.
To have access to the physical frames, it is therefore necessary to continually
know this tone map in order to identify the technique used to transport information
between the network PLC devices.
The authentication of a PLC device consists in knowing the NEK that identifies the
network to which it belongs. If a PLC device does not have the right NEK, it cannot
exchange data with the devices of the PLC network to which it wishes to connect.
Figure 4.12 illustrates the main steps relating to the access of a PLC device to a
network identified by the NEK (network encryption key) of HomePlug 1.0 and
Turbo. This NEK, called here NEK2, is the identifier of the PLC network since only
the PLC devices that have a configuration with this key belong to this network.
Certain more advanced PLC devices, like those of the Asoka brand, are used to
create an authentication of the devices concerning the MAC address in addition to
the NEK key. This authentication is managed from the network administration
interface by means of a list of MAC addresses which may belong to the PLC network.
Network Keys
In a computer network, the network keys are used to protect the exchanged data by
encrypting it before sending this data over the network. In a PLC network, the data
flows over the electrical network, which is a shared network. Therefore, it is important to encrypt the data to avoid data recovery. For this purpose, the PLC networks
use keys that make it possible to identify a network and all the PLC devices belonging to it.
In HomePlug 1.0, there are two encryption keys, NEK and DEK, stored in a register specific to each device and accessible via the EKS (encryption key select)
Figure 4.12
Access of a device to a PLC network identified by its NEK key
The NEK identifies the PLC network in the same manner as the WEP (wired
equivalent privacy) is used to protect the data of a Wi-Fi network. It also carries out
the following tasks:
creation of several PLC networks on the same electrical network;
encryption of the data flowing between the PLC devices; and
authentication of the devices belonging to the PLC network.
Default NEK of HomePlug PLC Networks
In HomePlug, the default NEK is equal, in ASCII, to 0x46D613E0F84A764C, which is equivalent to the word HomePlug. Any HomePlug PLC device available in stores is configured
with this encryption key.
If a non-trained user tries to make its equipment work in this way without network configuration notions, the price to pay is the total absence of security, insofar as all the devices
complying with this standard are capable of recovering the data exchanged over the electrical network irrigating a building or a single family house.
The DEK identifies a particular PLC device. It is used for the remote configuration of
PLC devices via the electrical network of the house or business wiring.
This key is used to create an encrypted communication between the PLC device
holding the NEK and the PLC device trying to belong to the PLC network.
As we’ll see in Chapter 9, dedicated to practical PLC network configurations,
this key can prove very useful for remote device configuration from a network
administration central point.
Security for PLC Networks
Calculating the NEK
The PKCS#5 standard specifies two methods for the implementation of a cryptography derived from passwords. The PBFDK1 method was chosen in HomePlug. As
input parameters, it demands a password (entered by the administrator); a “salt
value” (constant parameter specified by HomePlug which is a kind of public key);
an iteration count, i.e. the number of times that the operation specified in the
PBFDK1 formula will be reiterated in a loop for greater encryption efficiency; and
the length of the output derived key.
The PBFDK1 method uses the MD5 hash function used for the synthetic and
unique definition of the encrypted message digest, in this case the encryption and
the digital digest of the PLC network password.
It is described by the following function:
DK = PBFDK1 (P, S, c, dkLen)
DK = derived key (with dkLen set to 8, DK is NEK);
P = password (entered by the network administrator);
S = salt value (equal in ASCII to 0x0885 6DAF 7CF5 8185);
c = iteration count (1,000 times);
dkLen = length in bytes of derived key (8 bytes).
According to the FIPS PUB 112 standard, the usage rules concerning passwords
consist of defining a length between 4 and 8 bytes, even if longer passwords (up to
24 bytes) are possible.
PBFDK1 specifies that the hash function (MD5) must be applied 1,000 times in
an iterative manner by using the results of the preceding iteration. The first value is
the concatenation of the password and salt value.
The iterative process occurs in the following way:
T1 = MD5 (P|S)
T2 = MD5 (T1)
T1,000 = MD5 (T999)
DK = T1,000 <0…7>
where (P|S) is a concatenation of P and S.
MD5 Algorithm (RFC 1321)
The MD5 algorithm produces a 128-bit message digest (MD) from an input message. In
theory, the same MD cannot be obtained for two distinct messages.
The MD5 algorithm can be summarized in the following way:
mext = m + mpad + ml
mext is the extended message produced by the MD5 algorithm.
m is the input message of arbitrary length converted to a bit stream.
mpad consists of pad bits (1 followed by 0’s) concatenated to m such that the length of mext is
congruent to 448, modulo 512.
ml is the length, in bits, of the original message, m, expressed as 64-bit binary blocks.
The extended message, mext, is subjected to four rounds of bit transformations where
each transformation includes 16 operations. On each operation, a fixed value is added to
the result. This fixed value added to each result of the 64 operations (different value for
each operation) is calculated using a SINE function and stored in a 64-row table (one row
for each operation).
A fixed value calculated in the following way is therefore stored on each row:
Addition = int(2 × abs(sin(i)))
where i is expressed in radians.
These 64 fixed numbers (addition) will never exceed 32 bits.
Security in HomePlug AV
The main security functionalities implemented in HomePlug AV are the following:
Encryption based on 128-bit AES in CPC (cipher block chaining) mode;
Data protection using a NEK (rotation of NEK values every hour) encrypting
the physical data;
Authentication to join a PLC network using a NMK (network membership
key) used to distribute NEK over the network;
New PLC device authorization by configuration:
using a frame carrying the NMK over the Ethernet interface;
• using a DAK (direct access key) key corresponding to the DEK key of
HomePlug 1.0;
• using the easy connect button;
• using a MDAK (Meta DAK);
• using a pair of PPK (public-private key encryption);
Support of HLE (higher layer entities) protocols, such as IEEE 802.1x.
Table 4.1 summarizes the security management characteristics of the various
PLC technologies with their key management, encryption level, advantages, and disadvantages of each method.
As we have seen at the beginning of the chapter, the purpose of an attack is not
restricted to the connection to a network in order to recover data via flaws in it. An
attack can also be intended to disturb network operation, both at the network and
physical levels.
Security for PLC Networks
Table 4.1
Encryption-Key Management According to PLC Technology
HomePlug 1.0
DES-56 bits
– DES shortcomings
– A single key for
each device
HomePlug Turbo
HomePlug AV
AES-128 bits (key
High encryption
Possible shortcomings with easy connect button
Key exchange
RC4 + Diffie-Hellm Configuration made
RC4 shortcomings
an (128 bits)
easier by interface
Master-slave key
Central configuration by administration console on
master device
Interception of key
exchanges during
– DES-56 bits
– AES-128 bits
Management by
Web centralized
Possible Web interface shortcomings
Decryption Attacks
The purpose of this attack is to try to discover the NEK of a PLC network in order to
connect to it and to recover the exchanged data.
The two following techniques are used to discover the NEK in HomePlug 1.0:
Have access to the physical frames and store enough frames so that they can
be decrypted using suitable algorithms. However, this technique is very complex and requires expensive specific hardware solutions.
Try out all possible combinations of NEK to have access to the network.
The time that is necessary to try out all the possible combinations of NEKs can
be estimated in the following way: the NEK is encoded with the DES-56-bit algorithm derived from a password entered by the user of the PLC network, which may
vary from 4 to 24 characters.
Therefore, the maximum number of possible attempts is:
N = 2 58 ≈ 2.88 × 1017
For a 64-byte Ethernet frame with a 100-Mbit/s network interface card, the
transmission time is:
Tframe =
64 × 8 bits
. × 10 −6 sec
≈ 488
100 × 1024
× 1024
The total time which is necessary to try out all combinations then is:
Ttotal = N × Tframe = 2.88 × 1017 × 488
. × 10 −6 ≈ 14
. × 1012 sec ≈ 44,591 years
We notice that this technique requires too much time to be used efficiently.
Denial of Service Attacks
The purpose of an attack is not necessarily to crack an encryption algorithm
to recover the key and listen to the network or get into it. The single purpose of
some attacks is to sabotage the network by preventing it from operating. This
type of attack, called denial of service, or DoS, is widespread for all network
In PLC networks, the simplest denial of service corresponds to scrambling. Since
these networks operate in the 1- to 30-MHz frequency band, the use of a radio unit
using the same band with a power greater than PLC power can cause interference
and, consequently, a global performance drop; it can even completely prevent the
network from operating. This attack is the simplest to implement. Unfortunately, it
is also unmanageable.
IEEE 802.1x and Improvements to PLC Network Security
IEEE 802.1x is an authentication architecture proposed by the IEEE committee
802. This is not in any case whatsoever a completely separate protocol but these
are guidelines used to define the various functionalities that are necessary to
implement a client authentication service on any type of local area network
(Ethernet, PLC).
The 802.1x architecture, called port-based network access control, is based on
two key elements, the EAP and RADIUS protocols.
The port is an important element of this authentication architecture. The port
defines any type of attachment to a local area network infrastructure. In PLC, like in
Ethernet, the connection of two machines is considered as a port.
The 802.1x architecture is illustrated in Figure 4.13. It consists of the three following distinct elements:
a client corresponding to the user who would like to connect to the network
via his or her station;
a controller, generally a switch or a router, relaying and controlling the information between any requester and the authentication server;
an authentication server authenticating the user.
For each port, the network traffic can be controlled or not. Between the client
and the controller, the port is controlled so that only EAP authentication messages
of the request-response type are transmitted. Any other type of traffic is rejected. On
the contrary, between the controller and the authentication server, any type of traffic is accepted since the medium is supposedly secure.
In 802.1x, the authentication is based on the EAP (extensible authentication
protocol) and the use of a RADIUS (remote authentication dial-in user service)
IEEE 802.1x and Improvements to PLC Network Security
Figure 4.13
IEEE 802.1x authentication architecture
RADIUS and Diameter
802.1x does not define a particular authentication protocol on the server side. Two client-server authentication protocols, RADIUS and Diameter, can be used. The simplest one,
RADIUS, has become the default server of any 802.1x architecture. The main constraint of
diameter is that it is based on the SCTP (Stream Control Transmission Protocol) transport
layer which is not implemented as much as TCP.
EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol)
EAP was defined originally for the PPP (point-to-point protocol) as an extension to
the existing PAP (password authentication protocol) and CHAP (challenge handshake authentication protocol). Compared with these two protocols, EAP provides
many authentication methods in a relatively simple way. This simplicity is due to
the fact that EAP is only an envelope for the transport of these authentication
Within the framework of a 802.1x PLC architecture, five EAP authentication
methods are used:
EAP-MD5. This solution is based on the hash function (MD5). For authentication, the user gives a login-password, the MD5 digest of which is transmitted for authentication purposes to the server. This solution is deemed not to be
very reliable though only the digest is transmitted over the network and not
the login-password. It is no longer supported by Windows XP SP1.
EAP-TLS. TLS (transport layer security) is a mechanism used to implement a
secured connection. The mutual authentication between the client and the
server, the data encryption, and the dynamic management of keys constitute
its functionalities. TLS is the basis of SSL 3.0, which is found in HTTPS, a protocol used by many Web sites (banks, online reservation sites, and so forth).
Apart from encryption, EAP-TLS has the same characteristics as TLS but these
are encapsulated into EAP packets.
EAP-TTLS. EAP-TTLS (tunneled TLS) is a Funk Software solution based on
the use of two tunnels; the first one is used for authentication purposes by
EAP-TLS and the second one to secure transmissions with an authentication
method left to the choice of the manufacturers (EAP-MD5, PAP, CHAP, and
so forth).
PEAP. Protected EAP is a solution proposed by Microsoft, RSA, and Cisco
Systems. Like EAP-TTLS, PEAP is based on two tunnels but the two tunnels
use EAP-TLS as the authentication method.
LEAP. Lightweight EAP, which is proposed by Cisco, corresponds to a lightweight version of the preceding solutions but with the same functionalities,
mutual authentication between the client and the server, and dynamic management of the keys.
Although these solutions are based on a mutual authentication between the client and the server, sometimes with an additional authentication method for secured
data transport, these are not flawless. The MIN (man in the middle) attack makes it
possible, for example, for an attacker placed between the client and the server, i.e.,
in the middle, to recover the messages and hijack the identity of a client to authenticate himself in his place.
To conclude, 802.1x is a solution used to improve the security of PLC networks
by adding to the management of NEK securing the physical frames on the electrical
RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-in User Server)
RADIUS is a centralized user authentication and authorization protocol. Originally
designed for remote access, it is currently used in many environments, such as VPN
and Wi-Fi access points, and has become a IETF standard (RFC 2865).
Situated above level 4 in the OSI architecture, it uses the UDP transport protocol
for obvious reasons fastness and is based on a client-server architecture.
As illustrated in Figure 4.14, the client sends server connection attributes. The
authentication between the server and the client is done by means of a shared secret,
which generally consists of a key and of the client attributes. For authentication purposes, the server sends a challenge to the client that can only be solved by the shared
secret. It checks the attributes sent by the client and the response to the challenge and
accepts the client if they are correct.
IEEE 802.1x in PLC
EAPoL (EAP over LAN) is the EAP version used within the framework of Ethernet
and Wi-Fi local area networks like PLC. It appears as an Ethernet encapsulation
viewed from the link between the client terminal and the RADIUS server.
The exchange of EAPoL messages for the authentication of a station to an access
point is illustrated in Figure 4.15.
IEEE 802.1x and Improvements to PLC Network Security
Figure 4.14
RADIUS negotiation
Figure 4.15
Exchange of EAPoL messages between an access point and a station
The authentication is always initiated by the station which sends an
EAPoL-Start request. The access point transmits to it one or several requests to
which it must respond. The authentication phase ends either with an EAP-Success
message, which guarantees that the station is authenticated, or with an EAP-Failure
message; in this case, the station is not authenticated. The station can deauthenticate
itself at any time by sending an EAPoL-Logoff request.
802.1x uses an authentication server to which the access point relays information, as shown in Figure 4.16. The authentication phase can only be initiated by the
station. After having received the authentication request, the access point requests
the station to identify itself with an EAP-Request (Identity). As soon as the station
identifies itself at the access point with an EAP-Response (Identity), this request is
transmitted to the authentication server (Access Request).
In general, the station and the authentication server share a secret (key, login
password, certificate) that depends on the authentication method used. As soon as
the authentication server receives a request from a client (a station) connected to the
PLC network, it sends an Access Challenge message containing a challenge to the
station. This challenge can only be solved by the secret shared between the station
and the authentication server. If the challenge is not solved, the station cannot
authenticate itself; if it is solved, the authentication server authenticates the station,
which can from then on connect to the network via the controlled port located
between it and the PLC device used to have access to the PLC local area network.
Any type of server supporting EAPoL can be used as the authentication server.
However, the most widespread server still is RADIUS.
Figure 4.16
Authentication phase in IEEE 802.1x
IEEE 802.1x and Improvements to PLC Network Security
Virtual Private Networks
The purpose of the virtual private networks, or VPN, is to provide an end-to-end
secured tunnel between a client and a server. VPN are used, among other things, to
identify and to authorize access as well as to encrypt any traffic flowing in the
To date, IPsec is the protocol that is the most used in VPN. IPsec, the reference
standard, is based on various protocols and algorithms according to the desired
security level:
authentication by public-key electronic signature (RSA);
integrity control by hash function (MD5);
confidentiality by means of symmetric algorithms, such as DES, 3DES, AES,
IDEA, blowfish, and so forth.
The use of a VPN is the most reliable way to secure a wireless network. This
method is also the most used.
To send information, the PLC stations must prepare data frames, i.e., data blocks
with a header and an area indicating the end of the frame. The block containing the
user data has a specific format that depends on the technique used in order to access
the physical medium used. As the power line medium is shared, a technique used to
circulate multiple frames coming from various machines must be determined. This
frame structure sent over the physical layer is completed by a second frame structure
encapsulated into the first one.
Figure 5.1 illustrates the transmission of data in the architecture with PLC
access via the MAC (data link) and physical (PHY) layers. The first layer corresponds to the technique used to access the power line medium. The frame corresponding to this protocol is called the MAC or MPDU (MAC Protocol Data Unit)
All the data coming from layers above the MAC layer is encapsulated into the
MAC frame. This MAC frame is encapsulated into a second physical layer frame in
order to convey the frame over the physical interface or electrical interface. This
frame is called PPDU (physical protocol data unit).
Figure 5.1
Data transmission in PLC access architecture
This chapter discusses the structure of the PLC frames used in HomePlug 1.0
and introduces the main characteristics of the frames in HomePlug AV.
Physical Layer Frames
If we observe the complete structure of the HomePlug 1.0 physical layer frame permanently exchanged between the PLC devices (see Figure 5.2), we notice that it consists of a number of elements surrounding the long data frame including the data of
the higher level protocol layers from the OSI model’s point of view.
In terms of time length, the HomePlug 1.0 frame can be quantified by minimum
and maximum values, with a fixed part (header), a variable data part, and a part
used for contention periods with regard to the CSMA/CA process as indicated in
Table 5.1.
Therefore, the HomePlug 1.0 frame consists of “long” data frames, which comprise the data of the MAC frames, and “short” data frames, which comprise
response information from the other PLC devices.
Remember that the average time of a HomePlug 1.0 frame is 1,600 μs.
From the point of view of the physical layer modulation techniques, the
HomePlug 1.0 data frame consists of OFDM (orthogonal frequency division
multiplexing) symbols. These symbols form blocks that, in turn, constitute the complete frame.
Figure 5.2
Table 5.1
HomePlug 1.0 frame structure
HomePlug 1.0 Frame Time Length
205.52 μs
313.5 μs
N × 35.84 μs
519.02 μs + (N × 35.84 μs)
205.52 μs
1,489.5 μs
N × 35.84 μs
1,692.02 μs + (N × 35.84 μs)
Physical Layer Frames
Figure 5.3 illustrates the respective times of these various OFDM blocks.
The complete frame time is defined by adding the various OFDM symbol block
times. The maximum possible transmission speed and the bit rate concerning the
data link layer can be calculated in this way.
With a 2,705-byte frame, the maximum transmission speed is obtained in the
following way:
Bit ratePHY_MAX = 2,705 × 8 bits/1,534.86 μs = 14.1 Mbit/s
With an Ethernet data frame with a maximum length of 1,500 bytes, the maximum bit rate is the following:
Bit ratePHY_MAX = 1,500 × 8 bits/1,534.86 μs = 7.81 Mbit/s
Table 5.2 summarizes the maximum theoretical transmission speeds in the
HomePlug 1.0 standard. As we’ll see in part II of the book, these values are lower in
Figure 5.3
Table 5.2
Complete HomePlug 1.0 frame OFDM symbol block times
Maximum Transmission Speed According to Modulation Technique
IN THEORY (Mbit/s)
¾ convolution code and Reed-Solomon code
½ convolution code and Reed-Solomon code
Convolution code and Reed-Solomon code
½), repetition of
½ convolution code and Reed-Solomon code
each bit four times
Improved transmission speeds are predicted with the evolution of PLC technologies, as indicated in Table 5.3.
Architecture of the Physical and Data Link Layers of HomePlug AV
The latest technical developments by the HomePlug consortium have led to
improvements in HomePlug 1.0 performance in the new HomePlug AV version.
The architecture of the physical layer and of the data link layer has been modified while allowing interoperability with the HomePlug 1.0 devices in order to
authorize the master-slave mode.
Figure 5.4 illustrates the architecture of these two layers.
Two simultaneous functions are managed by these layers: management of
checks between the master and the slaves of the network, mainly to provide the various QoS functionalities, and data management to encapsulate MAC and to make
data in the upper layers available.
Table 5.3 Forecast Maximum Transmission
Speed of Various PLC Technologies
HomePlug Turbo
85 Mbit/s
HomePlug AV
200 Mbit/s
Spidcom SPC200-e
220 Mbit/s
200 Mbit/s
Figure 5.4
HomePlug AV architecture
The OFDM Interface Frame
The OFDM Interface Frame
The OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) interface is the access
technique used by PLC. This access technique is also used by Wi-Fi in the IEEE
802.11a and 802.11g standards and by the ADSL and terrestrial TV broadcasting
This technique is highly robust with regard to communication media interference. The OFDM technique principle is to separate the frequency band into narrow
sub-bands, with each sub-band transporting part of the binary information. The frequency responses of each sub-band are orthogonal and slightly overlap to obtain
good spectral efficiency.
OFDM Symbols
As explained above, the HomePlug 1.0, Turbo, and AV frames consist of OFDM
symbols of binary data combined into blocks.
Figure 5.5 gives a temporal and frequencies representation of the OFDM frequency bands used by PLC technologies. The frequency band is divided into 84
sub-bands; only 78 of these sub-bands are used in order to comply with frequency
regulations concerning radio amateur networks (compliance with 40m, 30m, 20m,
and 17m amateur bands).
Figure 5.5
Temporal and frequential representation of OFDM frequency bands
Each frequency sub-band conveys OFDM frames comprising two main parts:
The CP (Cyclic Prefix) is used for the temporal delimitation of the part conveying the data.
The data frame consists of OFDM symbols, each of which consists of 428
The OFDM blocks of the HomePlug frame consist of 20 or 24 symbols. Those
of the ROBO frame only comprise 40 symbols.
Figure 5.6 gives details on an OFDM symbol and the respective times for its various parts: 8.4 μs for HomePlug 1.0 and 40.96 μs for HomePlug AV.
The long data frame is itself composed of 20 to 120 OFDM blocks forming the
data of the data link layer and the service blocks.
The OFDM symbols are modulated in each frequency sub-band with phase
modulation according to the quality of the link between PLC devices.
OFDM Transmission Schemes
Unlike single-carrier transmission schemes, OFDM transmission schemes are used to share
the complexity of power equalization for the signal transmitted between the sender and
the receiver. This ensures simple and cost-effective implementation of PLC receivers.
The other advantages of OFDM transmission schemes are the following:
Efficient use of the frequency band unlike conventional frequency-division
multiplexing techniques. The various channels overlap in spectral terms while
remaining fully orthogonal.
Digital equalization and simple and optimum decoding thanks to the use of guard
spaces even if accompanied by a lower data rate. Used in conjunction with
convolutional codes, Viterbi codes, and block codes (Reed-Solomon codes), this
technique proves to be highly efficient.
Robustness to burst noise thanks to a multicarrier technique. Each carrier is affected
by a noise independent from the other carriers. In the single-carrier technique, the
Figure 5.6
OFDM symbol details
The OFDM Interface Frame
noise can affect some symbols. In the OFDM technique, symbol losses in a carrier do
not affect other carriers.
High bit rate allocation flexibility for each user or each carrier. Each carrier can be
encoded independently from the other ones according to the quality of the physical
links and to the best suited modulation techniques.
Improvement of the transmission channel preliminary estimate. Training frames
used to identify the transmission channel capacities in the frequency domain are
used by the OFDM techniques.
Figure 5.7 gives an overview of the OFDM symbols in each channel (frequency
The HomePlug 1.0 frame uses several modulation, frequency division, and
error correction techniques, which constitute a data processing set for each PLC
device between the physical analog interface and the Ethernet interface of the RJ-45
Frequency Band Use for HomePlug AV Devices
Technical evolutions in the field of signal processing in media with high interference
led the developers of PLC solutions within the HomePlug industrial consortium to
make maximum use of the authorized 1-30 MHz frequency band in order to achieve
transmission speeds around 200 Mbit/s.
Figure 5.7
Distribution of OFDM symbols over frequency bands
The 917 frequency sub-bands at the physical layer are used by HomePlug AV.
Each band then uses OFDM symbols in order to encode the data in an orthogonal
manner in the frequency domain. Therefore, the bands are independent in terms of
frequency and do not interfere with each other.
In each frequency band, the data and its OFDM symbols are encoded using a
turbo convolutional code. The modulation is then carried out; it is potentially different for each frequency band (see Figure 5.8).
This modulation can range from the BPSK type, which encodes 1 bit for each
symbol and frequency band, to the 1024-QAM type, which encodes 10 bits for
each symbol and frequency band.
Functional Blocks
Therefore, a PLC device consists of various signal processing electronic elements.
Each electronic element has a precise function in the signal processing chain that
conveys data from the interface connected to an Ethernet network or from the interface connected to an electrical network.
Figure 5.9 illustrates the functional blocks used to send and receive HomePlug
1.0 frames between the various network PLC devices with adaptations relating to
the quality of the electrical transmission channel.
These adaptations must be made as efficiently as possible in order to achieve
optimized performance for the upper protocol layers and the various terminals connected to the Ethernet interfaces of each PLC device.
Figure 5.8
Details on frequency band use in HomePlug AV
The OFDM Interface Frame
Figure 5.9
Functional blocks for data signal processing in HomePlug 1.0
Differences Between HomePlug Frames and 802.11b Frames
From a functional point of view, there are a few differences between the various
parts of the HomePlug 1.0 frames and the IEEE 802.11b frames.
The main difference concerns the MAC encapsulation of the PLC technologies.
MAC type data are defined in it in complete frames, whereas the IEEE 802.11
frames must implement the LLC layer and a more complex MAC frame reconstitution process.
Figure 5.10 illustrates, in the boxes with arrows, the fields that differ between
the two standards since the 802.11 standard uses a slightly different contention
technique and additional interframe spaces.
Figure 5.10
Differences between HomePlug 1.0 frames and IEEE 802.11b frames
The PLC Physical Frame
In HomePlug 1.0, the physical layer frames, or PHY PPDU (physical protocol data
unit) are strongly related to the MAC layer frames, as some MAC layer information
is available at the PHY layer level.
There are two PPDU types at the physical layer level: a long PPDU and a short
PPDU, as well as a number of elements delimiting these PPDU or allowing sufficient
spacing between them so that the stations have the time to transmit or receive the
The various elements of the HomePlug 1.0 physical frames are the following:
Three delimiters:
• SOF (start of frame), which is used to delimit the start of the frame;
• EOF (end of frame), which is used to delimit the end of the frame;
• Short PPDU, which is the response frame sent back by the destination station to indicate acknowledgment of the transmitted data.
Two time intervals between two frame transmissions:
• CIFS (contention distributed interframe spacing), which is the end of frame
gap before the end of frame delimiter.
• RIFS (response interframe spacing), which is the time interval during which
a station waits for a response from the destination station.
Long PPDU, which contains the data frames.
Figure 5.11 illustrates all the parts forming a PLC physical frame in HomePlug
1.0 and Turbo with the long frame containing the data of the upper layers, the
interframe gap used to delimit the frames on the physical medium, and the short
frame used to manage the responses from the PLC devices and optimize the communication times over the medium.
The physical level long frames, also called PLCP PPDU (physical level common protocol PPDU), are nothing else than blocks of bits sent over the physical
These long frames, also called long PPDU, comprise six parts: preamble, frame
check, header, frame body, padding bits, and FCS.
Figure 5.11
Elements of HomePlug 1.0 physical frames
The OFDM Interface Frame
The preamble included in the SOF indicates the timestamps of the MAC type
FC (Frame Check) is used to check the frame. The frame consists of four
OFDM symbols that are highly resistant to the noise on the transmission
channel and use a turbocode convolutional code. This code is widely used for
signal processing in HomePlug AV. These four symbols must be transmitted
over the transmission channel in order to make it possible for the destination
station to know the state of the link and the number of errors in the transmitted data.
The header contains various information concerning in particular the connection bit rate, which can vary according to the signal quality.
The frame body contains information from the MAC layer just above. This
information is also called MPDU (MAC protocol data unit).
The padding bits are used to fill the frame if a minimum frame size cannot be
achieved with the useful data.
FCS (frame check sequence) is used to check the integrity of the data contained in the frame body.
All the HomePlug 1.0 frame times without priority and contention headers are
estimated to be 1.5 ms, including the frame body, which includes 160 OFDM symbols lasting 1.328 ms.
Figure 5.12 illustrates the constituent elements of the long frame in HomePlug
1.0 and Turbo. This long frame globally consists of three parts: the start of frame,
used to identify a long frame on the network; the data (in which the frame body with
the data of the upper layers is found); and the end of frame, used to identify end of
frame and therefore to indicate to the PLC devices that these devices can send the
next frames.
Figure 5.12
HomePlug 1.0 long frame structure
Physical Frame Start Delimiter
The start delimiter contains two parts, the preamble and FC:
The preamble contains the frame sending time stamp.
FC (frame check) contains several fields: a contention check field, used to
check the contention level of the transmitted frames; a field indicating the
delimiter type; a variable field, which itself comprises two fields that are of
particular importance for PLC communications (the tone map, which stores
the states of the links between PLC stations and the size of the following
data frame) and a frame check sequence. A CRC (cyclic redundancy check)
is used in the latter field to check the frame integrity check sequence (see
Figure 5.13).
Physical Frame Data Body
The physical frame data body is illustrated in Figure 5.14. It comprises a MDPU
encapsulated into the PPDU. The MPDU comprises the EB (block header), PAD
(padding bits) (if the data does not completely fill the data part), and the SCB (bit
check sequence) fields. An ICV (integrity check value) is used by the SCB field to
check the integrity of the data forming the data body.
Physical Frame End Delimiter
The physical frame ends with an end delimiter, which consists of a preamble and of a
frame check field.
The frame check field consists of the four following fields (see Figure 5.15):
Figure 5.13
Start of frame header of physical frame
The OFDM Interface Frame
Figure 5.14
Physical frame data body
Figure 5.15
End of frame fields of physical frame
Contention check used to check the state of the contention periods between
Delimiter type specifying whether the delimiter is at the beginning or at the
end of the frame.
Variable field specific to this delimiter, which contains the priority level of the
PLC station (indicated by the CAP parameter).
FCS, which uses a 16-bit CRC for the frame integrity check. The FCS is calculated both on the frame header and body. The techniques used in FCS are usually defined in the main standards on frame transport over a link.
MAC Layer Frames
The MAC (medium access control) layer frames, situated just above the physical
layer, allow a link with the layers of the upper levels.
As indicated before, the PLC technology can be viewed as a MAC encapsulation
since MPDU frames are encapsulated into long PPDUs. Likewise, all data coming
from layers above the MAC layer is encapsulated into the MAC frame.
MAC HomePlug 1.0 Frames
In the case of HomePlug 1.0, the encapsulation of the IEEE 802.3 or MPDU (MAC
protocol data unit) frame is included in the frame body of the PLC frame between
the start and end delimiters.
The Ethernet HomePlug 1.0 frames can be easily identified on an Ethernet network since, for all of them, the hexadecimal 0x887b value is indicated in the MAC
ETHERTYPE frame type field. This parameter is used to create applications at the
data link layer level dedicated to HomePlug PLC technologies. In the case of
HomePlug AV, the value of the ETHERTYPE field is 0x88e1.
In addition to the 72-bit encryption check, the data body is encrypted with the
NEK (network encryption key) exchanged between the various PLC stations of the
The MPDU form what is called a service block (BS). If the BS exceeds the limit
size of the MAC frames (1,500 bytes), the BS is fragmented into segments sent in
sequence by the source stations. The MPDU are then subjected to a fragmentation-reassembly sequence during the transmission and receipt by the various PLC
stations of the network.
Each segment of a MPDU is numbered and sequenced to be reassembled by the
destination station.
MAC Header Format
The MAC frame begins with a rather complex header containing three fields of total
length 17 bytes as illustrated in Figure 5.16.
Block Check Field
The first field of the header comprises 40 bits subdivided into eight subfields. The
purpose of this field is to convey check information that the MAC layer requires.
Figure 5.16 illustrates the frame check field and its division into subfields. The
purpose of the various subfields is the following:
MAC Layer Frames
Figure 5.16
HomePlug 1.0 MAC frame header
Protocol version. Defines the value of the protocol used. This value is reserved
and will only be used during a standard evolution.
Bridged. Indicates whether the PLC station transmitting the data is in bridge
mode and has the potential for relaying the frames to other network stations.
MCF (multicast flag). Indicates whether the frames are sent in multicast or
broadcast mode by setting this value to 0b1.
CAP (channel access priority). Reuses the priority level of the source station in
comparison with the other stations of the PLC network.
Segment length. Used to find out the data length of the transmitted segment.
LSF (last flag segment). Used to find out, if the value is set to 0b1, that this
segment is the last BS segment.
Segment number. Indicates the fragmentation and reassembly order for the
various BS segments.
Segment sequence number. This number, set to 0, is assigned to each frame
and incremented by 1 steps for all the other transmitted frames. If a frame is
fragmented, all the segments of this frame have the same sequence number.
Address Fields
In HomePlug, all the address fields have a 6-byte length and the same format as the
addresses defined in the IEEE 802.3 standard.
The 48-bit address consists of the four following parts:
Individual/Group (I/G). The first bit indicates whether the address is an individual (1) or group (0) address.
Universal/Local (U/L). The second bit indicates whether the address is a local
(1) or universal (0) address. If this is a local address, the following 46 bits are
locally defined.
Organizationally unique identifier. The number assigned by IEEE corresponding to the 22 bits following the I/G and U/L bits.
Serial number. The last three bytes, i.e., 24 bits, correspond to the serial number generally defined by the manufacturer.
Hexadecimal Format
The hexadecimal writing, or base 16 numbering system, of the MAC address is generally
preferred to binary writing.
The MAC addresses consist of two distinct address families: individual addresses
addressing a single station on the network, and group addresses addressing several stations on the network. In the latter case, the MAC address represents a group of stations.
There are two types of group addresses:
Broadcast address. This address is associated with a group of stations consisting of all the network stations. Information can be sent to all the network stations using a broadcast address. A broadcast address always has a 48-bit
format; all the bits are set to 1.
Multicast address. Like for the broadcast address, this address is associated
with a group of stations but in finite number. This type of address always
begins with the first 24 bits of the MAC 48-bit address equal to 01:00:5E (hexadecimal).
A MAC 802.3 frame like that used in HomePlug contains the two following
address fields:
DA (destination address). The address to which the frame or segment is transmitted. The DA address can be an individual or group address.
SA (source address). The address that has transmitted the frame or the segment. The SA address is always an individual address.
Format of an Encrypted MAC Frame
The IEEE 802.3 standard enables the encryption of a frame to go across the power
line medium so that no user can decrypt the information.
In practice, as illustrated in Figure 5.17, a frame is only partially encrypted. The
frame is encrypted using the two following fields:
MAC Layer Frames
Figure 5.17
Encrypted HomePlug 1.0 MAC frame details
IV (initialization vector). Initialization vector with a block of bits concatenated with the block of main data used for decrypting frames. The IV is
reinitialized after each use. The combination of IV and data creates a unique
encryption key.
EKS (encryption key select). Index used to retrieve the NEK used for frame
Format of Control and Management Frames
The purpose of control and management frames is to send supervision information
and commands to the network elements that need them in order to operate.
As illustrated in Figure 5.18, information concerning the frame length and
response expected by the source station is used to manage and control the frames
(see Chapter 3).
Some manufacturers of PLC products implement specific MAC layers to make
it easier to manage and control the networks.
Figure 5.18
Control and management fields of PLC frames
PLC in Practice
The first part of the book introduced the architecture of PLC networks and
explained how they operate from a theoretical point of view. This second part,
focused on practice, details the rules to follow when installing such networks by
putting the emphasis on the new application possibilities brought about by concepts
relating to data broadcasting over an electrical network as well as on the electrical
constraints and choosing, installing, and configuring the devices.
The simplicity and practicality of PLC networks means they can be developed
quickly, which is sustained with the appearance of new PLC technology versions
resulting in new applications and the emergence of the IEEE 1901 standard for
PLCs in the very near future.
From an applications point of view, PLC networks do not bring about particular changes, and usual applications, particularly voice and video, are used. However, using an electrical network to convey high rate data has brought about
unexpected applications such as conveying data in a motor vehicle or using PLC as
the backbone of a Wi-Fi network.
We are still at the early stages of these new techniques, and the applications will
evolve with time to integrate more user friendliness, simplicity, and more functions
in particular, which is undoubtedly the most important element as far as the user is
Although the PLC philosophy seems simple at first, this is not the same when
focusing on its technical specificities. With regard to electronics, for example, the
notions of electrical network topology and interference are essential features to be
considered when installing a PLC network. In addition, it is important to differentiate useful throughput notions from theoretical rate notions. This rate corresponds
to the network transmission speed. The usable rate is lower because of the mechanisms implemented by the network protocols of the various layers (physical, data
link, network, transport, and so forth). These mechanisms were discussed in detail
in Chapters 3 and 5.
The basic device of a PLC network has highly evolved over the few last years.
Initially, only terminals in the form of bulky desktop packages that were relatively
unsuited to the users’ requirements were available. Now, the devices have all kinds
of configurations with several interfaces and many integrated network
functionalities (router, modem, Wi-Fi access point, switch, and so forth) so that custom-made configurations adapted to the user’s needs can be set up.
Configuring a Wi-Fi network starts with configuring the terminal and therefore
the PLC adapter. The configuration details in this section are for Windows XP,
Linux, and FreeBSD operating systems. Once the terminal is configured, the instal-
PLC in Practice
lation phase takes place. A number of constraints must be respected in this phase,
such as the electrical network topology, security, and performance.
By following the advice and configuration procedures explained step by step
throughout the chapters of this section, the reader will then be capable of installing
and configuring without assistance a PLC network in the best possible conditions.
We’ll conclude this section and the book by introducing the future standards on
PLC networks that, in the near future, will form the basic elements of the Internet for
both home and professional use, making it easier to develop home automation.
Remember that home automation is based on data exchanges within a house or a
Many prospective studies show that, in a few years from now, Ninety percent of the
networked terminals will not be computers. This prospect shows that many electrical and electronic devices of any type in many fields (industry, hospitals, home automation, electronics, digital arts, and so forth) will be fitted with an RJ-45 network
interface used for connecting to a local area Ethernet network.
The last few years have witnessed the predominance of two major standards on
networks—Ethernet and IP. From these observations, it is logical to think that the
communication networks between devices will mainly develop over the most convenient and reliable communication media. From this perspective, PLCs will undoubtedly be major players due to the extent of the electrical network (outlet networks,
light network, and so forth) to provide the various devices with the most recent
functionalities of networked communications.
The PLC networks bring about new advantages for the network world; the
most important one is undoubtedly how easy it is to use, since the user just has to
use the outlets of the building to build a computer network.
Once installed, this network provides sufficient data rates for real-time and
multimedia applications. In addition, it can act as the backbone of a Wi-Fi network.
The PLC network then ideally completes Wi-Fi; this makes it possible to extend its
coverage and to obtain the best offered by this technology.
Voice, Video, and Multimedia
Voice and video are real-time applications that are not easily implemented in asynchronous networks such as PLC. However, they probably represent a part of the
future of these networks as an extension of the telephone application.
In 2005, the conventional telephony around PABX and its distribution to telephone sets started to be replaced by telephony over IP in a PLC environment. Now,
since the beginning of 2007, PLC networks have been broadcasting television channels and handling videoconferencing applications between users. As for the multimedia application, it has rapidly become a major criterion for choosing PLC
technology, in particular among companies.
Telephony over PLC
The bit rate is not a problem in itself to convey telephone speech, since it can be as
low as 5.6 Kbit/s and that such a value is supported by PLC networks to a large
On the contrary, since telephony application is interactive, more than 300 ms
must not elapse between the moment when the information is sent by a user and the
moment when it is received by the recipient. If this is a symmetrical network, the
maximum round-trip time must therefore not exceed 300 ms. This is the maximum
permitted value for an application with human interaction.
Synchronization represents the second constraint when conveying telephone
speech. The information must be available to the receiver at precise times. In particular, the bytes originating from the digitization must be delivered at fully determined synchronization times. For example, if the compression generates a 8-Kbit/s
flow, this involves synchronizing every microsecond. Therefore, a byte must be
delivered to the receiver on each microsecond. If speech is not compressed, a
64-Kbit/s channel is synchronized every 125 μs.
The third main characteristic of PLC telephony is the use of the VoIP (voice over
IP) technique. The speech bytes are routed in IP packets and use the same network
resources as the packets routing other applications. Therefore, telephony over PLC
is integrated into the conventional framework of speech over IP.
Figure 6.1 illustrates the synchronization constraint at the remote telephone
level. Although the packets are regularly transmitted by the sender, they are received
at irregular intervals; because of this, delivering speech bytes to the receiver at precise times is rather difficult. This irregularity on receipt is due to the crossing of the
PLC network, which makes the speech packets arrive at random times.
Figure 6.1
Telephone communication constraints
Voice, Video, and Multimedia
The access method used to obtain the right to transmit to the access point, the
CSMA/CA (carrier sense multiple access/collision avoidance), makes the PLC network crossing time random. In addition, to reach the recipient, the packets must
cross wider networks and go via intermediate transfer nodes that are also crossed
Speech Packetization and Depacketization
Let’s suppose that speech is compressed to 8 Kbit/s, which is the most usual standard in telephony over IP environments.
The telephony bytes must be packetized into an IP packet which is itself encapsulated into an Ethernet frame or, to be more precise, into a PLC frame for transmission over the electrical network.
The synchronization takes place on each microsecond at a speed of 8 Kbit/s. If n
represents the number of bytes that can be used in a PLC frame, the filling time is n ´
1 ms. Since the minimum length of the PLC frame is 64 bytes, the packetization
requires 64 ms.
Depacketization does not actually require additional time since it is carried out
at the same time as packetization. Therefore, the packetization-depacketization
time is equal to at least 64 ms. In fact, the tendency is to add the packetization and
depacketization time to take account of the latency found in most
It is acceptable for this 64-ms time to remain below the 150-ms outgoing path.
However, this 64-ms value may prove to be too high if the packet has to go across
networks other than the PLC network or if the packetizers-depacketizers are much
too slow. This is the reason why speech packets are only filled with 16 byte speech
and the remainder is completed by padding bytes to achieve the minimum frame
size. The packetization-depacketization time can still be on the order of 16 ms with
these 16 bytes.
Actual Rate
The actual rate over the network is in fact much higher than 8 Kbit/s since the packet contains a lot of additional information like headers and padding bytes. It is considered that
the actual rate over a PLC network or any other packet transfer network is around 60 to 70
Kbit/s using the IPv4 standard and after encapsulation into an Ethernet frame.
If the IPv6 standard is used, the supervision fields are even bigger and we consider that
a speech channel exceeds 100 Kbit/s.
The time that the coder-decoder (codec) requires to digitize the signal from an analog signal or vice versa can be estimated to be around 5 ms. Therefore, 26 ms are
obtained for coding, decoding, and packetization-depacketization. The total allowable
transport time therefore becomes 124 ms (maximum transport time of 150 ms, as indicated at the beginning of this section, minus 26 ms for the various times). The technique
for MAC access to the PLC network is included in this transport time.
Transit Time
In PLC, the waiting time to access the power line medium can be relatively long. If,
for example, five clients are connected to the same electrical network by using
1,500-byte frames and integrating access times related to CSMA/CA, a waiting
time on the order of 10 ms, or even more, is obtained. If the telephone speech is
supposedly intended for another employee of the same company connected to a
PLC network, about ten milliseconds for access to the network must be added again.
Altogether, the transit time remains around 100 ms assuming that the traffic is
relatively high but without collisions. This time makes it possible to transport telephone speech under good conditions over a PLC network.
With the exception of the HomePlug AV standard and developments in progress
by competitors, because priorities are not managed by the current PLC generation,
the packets of other users circulate with the same priority, even if they convey data
that is not of immediate interest. For example, the packets of a client working under
a peer-to-peer (P2P) application and recovering a video file with several gigabytes
randomly circulate ahead of the packets a user on the phone. This is the reason why
drastically limiting the number of users or the global traffic is essential for the current PLC generation. The next HomePlug AV PLC generation will be capable of
managing the priorities of telephony and video packets, thus ensuring the quality of
service over the data network.
If the number of users exceeds ten, or if the useful bit rate exceeds 5 Mbit/s,
transporting a telephone speech successfully using a Homeplug 1.0 PLC network
cannot be guaranteed, i.e., with the necessary quality of service. In this case,
another technique must be used to assign priorities to the packets carrying telephone
Differentiating IP Packets
Two solutions can be deployed in the short term to implement this differentiation
between packets passing through PLC:
A technique for IP packet control at the IP protocol level. In this case, the PLC
network manager slows down the incoming acknowledgments of nonpriority
packets delivered by the receiving stations in such a way that these streams are
maintained in a slow-start condition, in which the sending stations can only
send a few packets and must wait for acknowledgments.
Use the HomePlug AV standard, which was released in 2007. This standard
determines priorities at the MAC layer level. In this case, assigning the highest
level priority to the telephone terminals is enough.
The second solution is clearly the best one, as it can be applied at the lowest level
of the architecture and clearly favors telephone speech streams. The other solution is
more artificial, as it consists of restricting non-priority streams without estimating
the actual bandwidth requirements of clients having priority of the telephone speech
Figure 6.2 illustrates the various components crossed when transporting telephone speech within a broader framework than a simple conversation from a termi-
Voice, Video, and Multimedia
Figure 6.2
Devices crossed by a PLC digital speech stream
nal to another one in the same PLC network. After going across the outgoing PLC
network, the stream of telephone packets is routed in a fixed IP network, which can
be an operator network, then goes via a dedicated gateway, PABX IP, before crossing the conventional telephone infrastructure. PABX IP converts IP addresses into
telephone addresses and carries out the necessary code conversions of a compressed
stream to a 64-Kbit/s operator telephone stream.
The Asterisk software is typically used to create an IPBX (PABX), which manages the local IP calls and the outgoing calls to the STN (switched telecommunications network) at the server level.
Hi-Fi Quality Telephony
PLCs are used to carry speech of much higher quality than the conventional telephone voice. Indeed, since they do not have constraints on the bit rate, they can
absorb a high bandwidth likely to carry hi-fi or almost hi-fi quality.
Suppose you have a 512 Kbit/s speech compressed to 64 Kbit/s. To fill the 64
bytes with telephone data, only 8 ms are necessary. Globally, the rate of the IP
packet stream is the same as before but, failing it filling with padding bytes, it only
contains useful bytes. Therefore, speech with much higher quality can be transported at the same actual rate.
This technique is still not widely used since the telephone devices are not always
compatible with such quality. The compatibility could be found by using a microcomputer with a sound board. Unfortunately, this solution does not prove to be
better, since the sound boards on the market are very slow and require a processing
time of about 50 milliseconds that, when two devices must be crossed (that of the
sender and of the receiver), makes the transit time unacceptable.
In any case this example shows that an interesting extension of telephony over
PLCs could be high quality telephony.
Video is another application that should develop in the future in PLC networks. This
application especially requires a high rate that becomes accessible in PLC environments.
Depending on the video application type being considered, the time constraint is
more or less strong. The two main cases, streaming video and videoconferencing,
are examined below.
With streaming without a return channel, like video on demand (VoD) and television, between the time when the video stream is sent from the source and the time
when this video is played on the screen, a rather long time can elapse in the order of
several seconds up to about fifteen seconds. The viewer does not necessarily have the
feeling that the video source sends correctly before he or she views the images.
The single constraint to be observed for these applications is the waiting time at
the beginning of the video. It is rather irritating to have to wait while the application
initializes itself whenever the channel is changed due to resynchronization at the
receiver level. The purpose of streaming is to leave some advance for the packet
stream to reach the receiver and to have enough packets in memory in the receiver so
that there is no interruption in the packet delivery to the client. This constraint is
illustrated in Figure 6.3.
The video can come from an analog signal that is digitized then compressed, or
from a digital signal which is compressed already. It can be highly compressed or
may require a high rate; this depends on the network possibilities and the computing
power of the emitters and receivers.
The higher the bit rate and the lower the compression, the higher the image quality. This requirement concerning the rate is a major feature of the transmission of a
video image. This characteristic poses no particular problems for PLC networks as
long as the network is not saturated. Let’s first analyze the necessary rates for routing a video channel.
Figure 6.3
Streaming video application over a PLC network
Voice, Video, and Multimedia
Necessary Rates for Video Routing
The video devices mainly use the most recent MPEG standards. DVB (digital video
broadcasting) is also widely used.
MPEG uses inter- and intraframe compression algorithms. The rate can be as
low as 1.5 Mbit/s for television quality with very few losses in comparison with the
original image. New developments improved the image quality with bit rates for
MPEG-2 of around 4 Mbit/s. An even higher compression can be envisaged with the
MPEG-4 standard by including, where applicable, the elements that are necessary
for reconstructing the image at the other end.
The difficulty with broadcast television resides in the fact that the bit rate is very
variable over time and must adapt itself to the transport network. The algorithms
more or less compress the information according to the time and resources available
on the medium. If the network is almost fully available, the image quality can be
highly improved. If, on the contrary, it is congested by miscellaneous information
coming from various sources, a degradation of the video transmission must be
envisaged if the quality of service demanded by the user allows this. A control mechanism is essential to fully optimize the application transfer.
High-definition digital television (HDDTV) requires a bit rate of around 5 to 10
Mbit/s according to the quality demanded by the user. This 5 Mbit/s rate is almost
too big to be supported by the HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo networks. With HomePlug
AV (40 Mbit/s), only two users have access to the service.
However, HDDTV broadcasting over PLC networks is now available but is
restricted to a maximum of ten users.
Capacity Problems
A PLC network must be capable of providing connections enabling a video application to use the optimum bit rate while allowing it to maintain an acceptable quality
of service.
Let’s first examine the difficulties raised by capacity. For telephone speech,
there is no problem since, once compressed, the stream is 8 Kbits/s, even 5.6 Kbits/s.
On the contrary, for video, the capacity required for a MPEG-2 television quality
image varies between 2 and 8 Mbits/s. With the MPEG-4 generation, it goes down
to 1 Mbit/s. In any case, it is currently 2 Mbits/s. These values can drop to some
hundreds of kilobits per second by reducing the video quality.
If the bit rate of a HomePlug 1.0 network proves insufficient to broadcast good
quality video, the bit rate of a HomePlug Turbo or HomePlug AV network should
suffice. Since the useful bit rate is around 10 Mbit/s and 40 Mbit/s for these two
technologies, having a rough estimate of its own stream and of the stream of other
applications on the network is enough not to exceed these values.
Giving streaming flows a higher priority level is possible by using the same priority techniques as in the transfer of the telephone speech. In this case, there are no
longer bit rate problems by using the HomePlug Turbo and AV networks.
If the capacity is adequate, i.e., if the number of users is small enough with
respect to the capacity required, or if a priority scheme is implemented, the second
problem to solve concerns compliance with the latency for byte resynchronization.
This is the reason why the latency is generally of the order of several seconds, even
several tens of seconds if this is necessary. In this case, once the streaming application is started, the first image only appears at the end of this latency.
Visioconferencing and Videoconferencing
Visioconferencing and videoconferencing are applications with human interactivity,
which requires a 150-ms latency. As explained previously, the data
resynchronization process must be observed to reconstitute the isochronous application to the receiver. For this purpose, a quality of service must be associated with
transporting these applications.
The difference between the two application categories comes from the quality of
the broadcast image.
In visioconferencing, the image can be black and white and jerky due to the
number of images per second being lower than normal. A low resolution screen can
be used by this application in order to reduce the bit rate. These characteristics only
require a transport capacity lower than 100 kilobits per second.
Videoconferencing requires a much higher bit rate (several megabits per second)
to obtain an image quality comparable to that of television. To obtain cinema quality, about 50 megabits per second must be achieved, which cannot be envisaged
within the framework of current HomePlug networks but can become possible with
the HomePlug AV generation.
The main difficulty for these two applications is to control synchronizations to
replay images in time. The same two techniques used for telephone speech can be
implemented to carry out this synchronization priority management at the IP level
or HomePlug frame level. The second solution makes it possible to assign a priority
on the random access of the MAC layer and grant shorter timers to stations with priority. In other words, the priority stations take precedence over the other ones as
long as they have frames to transmit. The only condition to be observed is that the
total bit rates of the priority stations remain lower than the value of the useful
throughput available.
In HomePlug 1.0 PLC networks, broadcasting good quality videoconferencing
cannot be envisaged easily. With HomePlug AV extensions to 200 Mbit/s (nominal
transfer rate), if the number of clients is reduced, it then becomes possible to transmit over one or two good quality videoconferencing channels although the probability of desynchronization quickly increases with the traffic.
Multimedia applications generally use at least one speech or video stream superimposed onto other data streams. These applications do not pose more problems for
PLC networks than telephone voice or video. The only additional constraint that
they bring about comes from the synchronization of the simultaneous applications
that achieve the multimedia process.
A compromise must be achieved between the complexity and the transit time in
the networks to convey multimedia applications. To find again the quality of the
original signal for digital documents, we consider that the compression must be lim-
PLC Local Networks
ited to a factor 3. This is the case of imaging applications, in which the quality is
essential, such as X-ray radiographies, for example. Factors varying from 10 to 50
for fixed images and from 50 to 200 for video are obtained. The compression average is 20 for fixed images and 100 for video.
These compressions distort the image very slightly but use the recovery capacities of the human eye. This is because the eye is much more sensitive to luminance,
i.e., image brightness, than to chrominance or color. This characteristic is found
again in the coding of the high definition television, where the luminance resolution
is based on an image definition of 720 by 480 points, whereas a definition of 360 by
240 points is used by the chrominance signal. The luminance requires more coding
bits per point than the chrominance.
We have seen that the PLC networks can support the necessary bit rates to
transmit the streams of multimedia applications. For this purpose, the number of
clients with access to an electrical network just needs to be limited (see Chapter 3).
Therefore, the problem resides less in the network capacity than in the management of time constraints. The two constraints (real time and synchronization) are
very difficult to achieve with asynchronous networks such as PLC networks, in
which there is no time management and where data is not transported in a determinist way (see Chapter 3).
In this respect, HomePlug AV is essential for transporting multimedia applications, since it is the only one that can classify packets according to priorities in order
to obtain the quality of service necessary for the applications transported by each
Quality of Service
As we have seen in Chapter 3, no quality of service is proposed by HomePlug 1.0
and Turbo in their technology, since the data transfer times are not determinist. The
quality of service must be implemented by the application layers above the MAC
layer to compensate for this nondeterminism.
An implementation of the quality of service is proposed by HomePlug AV with
a guarantee for the various services requiring a bit rate and a stable data transfer
time. This quality of service is provided by the allocation of TDMA timeslots for
each type of data service.
Table 6.1 gives examples of subscriber premises PLC networks according to utilization scenarios (lone couple, couple with three young children, and couple with a
young child and two teenagers).
PLC Local Networks
The use of PLCs to build a local area computer network is the most visible and widespread among the general public and professionals. Families are keen to equip
themselves with several personal computers to share a number of applications and
access to the Internet, whereas professional environments exchange occupational
and Internet applications.
Table 6.1
Subscriber Premises PLC Network Utilization Scenarios
Lone couple
Couple with three
young children
Couple with a
young child and
two teenagers
Bit rate
Bit rate
Bit rate
22 to 28 Mbit/s
22 to 28
22 to 28
22 to 28
3 to 7 Mbit/s
3 to 7
9 to 21
6 to 14
Home theater digital
audio system
5.4 Mbit/s
Digital audio CD
2 × 0.8 Mbit/s
Telephony over IP
(0;064 + 0.016) = 80
Kbit/s (codec G.711)
IP data
2 Mbit/s
34.5 to
40.6 to
48.4 to
Home cinema HDTV
Internet Connection Sharing
One of the most usual PLC applications relates to the sharing of the Internet connection between several terminals or computers of the same network.
PLC technology makes it easy to network the various house or office computers
and to connect them to the Internet connection modem through the electrical network. The architecture of such a network then appears as illustrated in Figure 6.4.
The PC connected to this network by PLC devices retrieves the signal via the electrical network. One of the major advantages of PLCs is that any outlet in the home can
retrieve the Internet signal.
As illustrated in the diagram, the bit rate is shared between the various network
users where the Internet connection bandwidth is divided by the number of users.
File and Printer Sharing
A PLC local area network makes it possible to complement all the applications
found in the wired or wireless subscriber premises or in professional computer
File sharing and printer sharing (see Figure 6.5) are two of the most frequently
used applications:
File sharing. A server connected to the electrical network by using a PLC
device hosts the files to be shared between the network users. These users connect to this server via the electrical network and correctly configured PLC
Printer sharing. Likewise, the printer can be placed at a favorable location of
the house or business premises and connected to the PLC network using its
PLC Local Networks
Figure 6.4
Internet connection sharing
Figure 6.5
File and printer sharing in a PLC local area network
Ethernet interface (RJ-45 connector). From then on, the other users can use it
as a network printer with its IP address.
Audio Broadcasting
A PLC local area network enables data broadcasting over the electrical network
including audio data (see Figure 6.6) originating from various sources, in particular
the following ones:
Audio file servers. The files are in MP3 or WAV format and are sent over the
electrical network to be retrieved by PLC devices connected to the installation
hi-fi devices.
Hi-fi system. The audio signal from one hi-fi system to another or to audio
speaker systems can be shared. In the second case, the electrical network
replaces the audio/stereo cables used to connect between the hi-fi system and
the audio speakers.
Recreational Applications
Recreational applications (video games) increasingly use the computer networks to
connect the various players between them. Games terminals fitted with a network
interface can use the electrical network for connection purposes exactly like in the
case when file sharing over a PLC local area network.
Video Surveillance
The widespread use of IP cameras fitted with Ethernet network interfaces (RJ-45
connector) means they can be connected to a PLC local area network via electrical
outlets. This provides a high flexibility in the placement of cameras that must in any
way be powered by a nearby outlet. Figure 6.7 illustrates this application.
Figure 6.6
Audio broadcasting in a PLC network
InternetBox and PLC
Figure 6.7
Video surveillance on a PLC local area network
Backbone of a Wi-Fi Network
As we’ll see in Chapter 13, dedicated to hybrid networks, each computer network
technology has advantages and disadvantages.
A radio computer network that provides both mobility and flexibility to the
users within the building where the network is installed can be built with Wi-Fi.
However, the hardware constraints of this technology make it necessary for it to be
based on a wired Ethernet backbone for full coverage of the building. This role of
Ethernet backbone can be attributed to a PLC local area network by connecting the
Wi-Fi access points to the electrical network.
Figure 6.8 illustrates the architecture of this network type in which each Wi-Fi
access point forming a radio cell is connected to the network by a PLC device.
InternetBox and PLC
Many Internet access providers in Europe, such as Orange, Free, Neuf-Cegetel,
Alice, Club-Internet, Vodafone, Belgacom; in the USA, such as Comcast; or in Asia
like NTT in Japan now offer solutions for accessing Internet “multiplay” services
through an InternetBox, particularly the following:
Data. The InternetBox is above all a modem to access the Internet with,
enabling users to access data services such as the Web, messaging, FTP, IRC,
P2P, and so forth.
Figure 6.8
PLC local area network used as the backbone of a Wi-Fi network
Voice. Telephony over IP services. The InternetBox behaves like a telephone
receiver to which the analog telephones used on the switched telecommunications network (STN) are connected.
Video. IPTV for the broadcasting of TV channels over IP networks and video
on demand (VoD).
IP services. Domestic mobile telephony, home automation (like electrical
power management and family server), and so forth. These services will turn
the InternetBox into a true smart gateway in the near future.
Each of these services must be routed to the end user (television set, telephone,
computer, IP household appliances, and so forth) via an Ethernet network. For this
purpose, the PLC local area network is an excellent solution as it uses a network
available in any building.
As illustrated by Figure 6.9, these services require an Ethernet link between the
InternetBox and the video decoder or the telephones; this link can be provided by
PLC devices.
Internet access providers already provide the following devices integrating PLC
products or completed by them:
New Applications for PLC
Figure 6.9
InternetBox and PLC
set-top boxes;
TV decoders;
electrical over-plugs;
flat screens.
New Applications for PLC
The maturity of PLC technologies convinced some manufacturers to use PLC as the
transmission medium for applications that until then were not networked at all, or
available only over proprietary and expensive networks.
The fact that an increasing number of industrial devices have a network interface makes it possible to build new types of networks allowing connection, in particular in boats, public spaces, and automobiles.
PLC in Industry
In the industrial world, the application constraints are more severe than in general
public or professional local area networks. Until now, these constraints have slowed
down PLC development, but the maturity of HomePlug and the initial feedback
from the deployments of PLC networks led to the ration consider of PLCs as a viable solution for connections between machines.
The industrial applications that currently use PLC networks are the following:
sensor networks;
connection of programmable controllers;
PC located in confined spaces where wiring is difficult (on top of a crane, in
spaces with metal piping making it impossible to use Wi-Fi, and so forth).
PLC in Public Spaces
Like in the industrial world, more and more public spaces now have communicating
devices or devices fitted with Ethernet interfaces ready to be connected to a local
area network.
Many applications already use PLCs to connect these devices, particularly the
content distribution toward interactive terminals;
information feedback from beverage dispensers;
authentication traffic for time clocks.
PLC over Coaxial Cable
As we’ll see in Chapter 7, dedicated to devices, the PLC can use not only 110-220V
50-60 Hz electrical wiring but also other wiring types to convey the signal in the 1 to
30 MHz band. One of the wirings that is the most used by PLC devices is the coaxial
cable conventionally used by cable operators to broadcast the TV signal originating
from cable television channels.
This cable has very interesting propagation and interference immunity (since the
cable is protected and even shielded) characteristics used for transporting the PLC
signal. Therefore, the coaxial cable can advantageously complete an electrical network when building a PLC network in order to compensate for certain types of
topology problems related to the use of the electrical network only (network too old,
electrical network too complex with respect to the application requirements, and so
PLC Without Electrical Current
The propagation of the PLC signal over the electrical wiring does not require the 110 to
220V/50 to 60 Hz power signal. A PLC network can be imagined without electrical operation in the building as long as the PLC devices can be powered in one way or another from
a battery. From then on, they can use the electrical network to communicate between
themselves but without drawing off their power from it. This original PLC application can
prove useful in the case where the mains are cut off and in the case where certain types of
battery operated computing equipment still want to communicate during the cut-off time.
PLC in Motor Vehicles
Automobiles increasingly need to transport internal data between the various controls and the instrument panel. These information exchanges require wiring of up to
3 km in length and 50 kg in weight.
Economic Perspectives
In Europe, the Valeo component manufacturer and the company manufacturing PLC products worked together to implement a solution using PLC to communicate the information from the vehicle sensors to the instrument panel.
This type of PLC network can also be used to broadcast external camera or
onboard DVD drive videos.
Economic Perspectives
As we have seen in this chapter, most applications transported by the electrical networks face multiple constraints inherent in PLC (i.e., bit rate, topology, and also
number of users in the network).
The number of these applications goes on increasing, but most of them are
already available in the conventional networks, like voice or video.
The number of PLC terminals also constantly increases, and nowadays PLC
products can be found with most resellers of data processing and network equipment.
Therefore, PLC must be considered not only as a network technology but also
as a simple means to connect devices together by allowing information sharing. The
emergence of PLC in the hi-fi world is a striking example of this. A central server
connected to the Internet can deliver any type of flow (video or audio) to any device
(LCD screen or mini-system) located in the house by means of PLC links.
Therefore, the economic perspectives for PLC networks are high, in particular
for the following reasons:
Emergence of HomePlug AV products in the course of 2009.
Commitment of Internet access providers to widen the distribution of
InternetBox services to housing. In the long run, this strategy will generalize
the use of PLCs among the general public.
Growing understanding by the general public of a technology that is now
mature and particularly simple to use (no new wiring, use of existing outlets,
simplified configuration, security, and so forth).
Understanding by professionals that PLC networks complete cables and
Wi-Fi, in particular with the development of PLC products dedicated to the
requirements related to the administration and management of professional
Figure 6.10 illustrates the expected growth of PLC networks by 2010. Its easy
deployment combined with lower costs for the devices and the development of
products combining several technologies (gateway, router, modem, firewall, server,
and so forth) undoubtedly ensure that this technology has a great future ahead.
Figure 6.10
Number of HomePlug chips sold worldwide
Since the emergence of the HomePlug 1.0 specification in 2003, the PLC network
equipment market has continued to grow. Originally focused on small networks
with a low bit rate and few computers, it then turned to private individuals very
keen on a technology enabling Internet connection sharing while eliminating wiring
constraints and remaining relatively easy to use with the support of Internet access
This chapter will cover all the PLC products currently available on the market
for connecting terminals to the local area network, to build or to optimize the PLC
network (filters, repeaters, injectors, and so forth).
PLC Technologies
Since the appearance of the first high speed PLC devices, several technologies have
been developed, but no international standard has appeared for the time being.
In the technologies offered to the public, several approaches have been implemented, in particular the following ones:
choice of the network mode;
modulation techniques;
number of sub-bands;
MAC layer implementation.
With over 90% of the PLC equipment market, HomePlug technology is so
widespread that it’s becoming the standard product.
The various PLC technologies are summarized in Table 7.1 depending on the
network mode chosen.
The various network modes (master-slave, peer-to-peer, and centralized) are
used by the PLC technologies according to the constraints of each application.
Ascom and Itran were among the first to develop Ethernet interface-based PLC
equipment. They first gave preference to the master-slave mode for its centralized
administration capacities.
Table 7.1 PLC Technologies According to the Network Mode
Ascom APA 450 (4.5 Mbit/s)
Itran (Main.net) PLTNet & ITM1 (2 Mbit/s)
1.0 Turbo
DSS4200 (45 Mbit/s)
200 Mbit/s
45 Mbit/s
SPC200 (200 Mbit/s)
Master-Slave Mode
Figure 7.1 illustrates the architecture of an LV (low voltage) PLC network for electrical distribution in the master-slave mode. We find the master device at the MV/LV
(medium voltage to low voltage) transformer level. This device checks the good
working order of the PLC network and more particularly the existing network links
with the slave devices located between the electrical meters of the houses.
Figure 7.1
Simplified architecture of the master-slave mode
PLC Technologies
Figure 7.2 illustrates another architecture in the master-slave mode in a domestic electrical network. Here we find conventional private electrical network devices
of which we had an overview in Chapter 2.
The electrical switchboard controls electrical wirings, power outlets, bulbs, and
electrical devices. The cables connected to the electrical switchboard are generally
known as “bus-bar electrical connections,” since they start from a central point
(electrical switchboard) and run right across the building according to the power
supply requirements.
In this topology, the master PLC device is ideally located at this central point
(electrical switchboard). The slave devices consist of the outlets scattered along the
electrical network.
The master equipment acts as a gateway between the fixed telephone network
(connected to a modem for access to the Internet, for example) and the PLC local
area network, which uses the electrical network. This device is also in charge of
managing the network and the various slave devices.
Table 7.2 summarizes the main advantages and disadvantages of the number of
bus-bar electrical connections.
There are many PLC device manufacturers who have chosen the master-slave
mode, notably the following:
Main.net. Develops products for public LV electrical networks that give preference to this mode in order to match the topology of the electrical networks.
Figure 7.2
Equipment position in a domestic LV PLC network in the master-slave mode
Table 7.2 Advantages and Disadvantages of the Number of Bus-Bar Electrical Connections
Single bus-bar connection
– Easier design
– Potential repetition with master
– devices
– Easier supervision
– Divided bandwidth
– Possible multipaths for circulating
– frames
– Loop possibility
Several bus-bar connections
– Broader network coverage
– Separation of useful networks
– More complicated supervision
Conventionally, this is a star topology. The MV/LV transformer used as the
injection point of the PLC signal is located in the middle of the star and the
PLC devices of the end users are placed at the ends of the various bus-bar electrical connections from the transformer.
Ascom. Develops products for public and domestic LV electrical networks
using this mode since 1998. This generation of products provided a 250 Kbit/s
speed. One of the devices was used as the master, whereas the other ones were
slaves. The configuration was carried out in Telnet mode or using configuration files and a TFTP client-server system.
DS2 and Spidcom. After having used the peer-to-peer mode to deploy it more
easily, these two manufacturers are now developing products in the master-slave mode to benefit from a centralized administration and better QoS
management for allocating TDMA frames for real-time applications like
Case of Ascom APA Devices
Ascom APA devices with a 4.5 Mbit/s speed represent one of the very first generations of
high speed PLC equipment. The master device was accessible by means of a Telnet interface for the device configuration and then could be supervised from a v2/v3 SNMP administration console. The master could manage 63 slaves maximum.
Figures 7.3 to 7.6 illustrate the Ascom APM 45 master and slave devices.
Some PLC devices are used for remote telephone interfaces over the PLC network. The Phonex company, for example, develops devices with RJ-11 interfaces to
carry voice analog communications over the electrical network.
Peer-to-Peer Mode
In the master-slave mode, a master device is at a higher hierarchical level (it
manages and controls the network) and the slave devices are at a lower hierarchical
level (their function is limited to communications with the master device). In
peer-to-peer mode, all the devices have the same hierarchical level and exchange
data with all the other PLC devices of the network. Therefore, the network consists
of N to N links.
PLC Technologies
Figure 7.3
Master device managing the ASCOM Powerline APM-45o PLC network
Figure 7.4 ASCOM Powerline APA-45i slave device used for the connection of client terminals to
the PLC local area network
Figure 7.5
Slave device interfaces
As illustrated in Figure 7.7, the peer-to-peer mode is ideal for local area networks since the LAN architecture must enable any terminal (typically PC) to
exchange data with any other LAN terminal. HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo use this
Centralized Mode
As we have seen in Chapter 3, HomePlug AV uses the centralized mode, which is a
combination of the master-slave and peer-to-peer modes.
Figure 7.6
Details on the RJ-45, USB, and RJ-11 Ethernet LAN interfaces of the slave device
Figure 7.7
Architecture of a PLC network in peer-to-peer mode
In HomePlug AV PLC networks, one of the devices acts as the central device and
manages the communications between the PLC stations of the network. The
exchanges between PLC stations directly take place without going through the central device. However, the stations must identify with the central device and comply
with the time allocations given by the central device.
PLC Modems
As PLC technology intrinsically uses the electrical network, the PLC devices, irrespective of their nature, connect to the outlets or directly inject the signal into the
electrical wirings. The signal injection, which allows a PLC device to connect
directly to the electrical wiring, is described later in this chapter.
PLC Modems
Although the PLC technology does not use the modulation-demodulation process implemented in the modems, we talk about a PLC modem to designate the
device to which the terminals that want to take part in the PLC network are connected.
Unlike Wi-Fi interfaces, which are integrated into the terminals in the form of
boards, the PLC interfaces are not integrated into the terminals. Therefore, the terminal, which is generally a computer, connects to the device that has two interfaces:
one for the connection to the electrical network, and the other one (RJ-45 or USB)
for the connection to the terminal.
The PLC modem, which is the most widespread device in the PLC networks, is
also the easiest to use, since it appears as a standard electrical appliance fitted with a
male receptacle to be connected into an outlet and a USB or Ethernet interface to be
connected to the terminal.
When viewed from the outside, a PLC modem therefore has the two following
male receptacle;
RJ-45 Ethernet or USB network interface.
The modem generally has three indicators (LED) that indicate the presence of
the 110 to 220V/50 to 60 Hz, PLC signal on the electrical interface and that of the
Ethernet network on the RJ-45 interface to the user (see Figure 7.8, left).
Some devices have up to five indicator lights so that the user can check that the
device is in good working order.
Dissipation in PLC Modems
The first HomePlug 1.0 PLC devices in plastic packages had heat dissipation problems due
to the permanent 110-200V/50-60 Hz power supply. This resulted in failures of the electronic components that did not withstand heat for long periods in the packages.
The PLC devices have been improved with the emergence of more robust components, cooling fins, and vent holes (see Figure 7.8, right) so that they can operate correctly
even in situations in which the devices were stacked or placed in poorly ventilated environ-
Figure 7.8
Outside and inside of a HomePlug Corinex PowerNet PLC modem
ments and at temperatures that can be as high as 70°C and are made of plastic for consumer equipment and of metal for professional equipment.
Inside the package, the entire hardware architecture is structured around the main
component (HomePlug PLC chip, see Figure 7.8, middle). The Intellon manufacturer is
the main supplier of HomePlug chips.
Table 7.3 summarizes the various versions of chips that appeared as the
HomePlug technology has progressed.
Around this PLC chip that implements all the functionalities of the PLC networks introduced in Chapter 3, a number of components and electronic circuits are
used to optimize the operation of the PLC modem:
Coupling to the electrical network (i.e., PLC modem connection to the electrical network).
PLC signal gain control for optimized data emission/reception, including
under difficult conditions, due to noises on the electrical network in particular.
Storage of information on the PLC network state. This function is provided by
an EPROM (persistent memory when restarting the modem) and a SRAM
(volatile memory erased when restarting the modem), which keep information
on the state of the PLC links, network encryption keys, or access authorization.
Figure 7.9 illustrates the hardware architecture of a HomePlug 1.0 PLC modem.
The manufacturers have developed two types of PLC modems: “desktop”
modems, which appear as packages to be placed on a table or on a pedestal, with a
cord to connect to outlets; and “wallmount” modems, which appear as integrated
packages directly connected into outlets. Most PLC modems are wallmount
modems since they are easy to use.
Figure 7.10 illustrates examples of wallmount (left) and desktop (right)
PLC USB Modems
PLC USB modems offer a USB interface so they can be connected to the USB ports of
computers or network terminals. The USB port acts as a virtual network interface
card for connection to the PLC network.
The interest of these modems resides in the fact that all computers do not have a
network interface card whereas they are all fitted with USB ports. However, they are
not as simple to configure as an Ethernet PLC modem.
Table 7.3
Models of Intellon Chips
1.0 (also called 1.0.1)
INT5130, INT51MX
Turbo (also called 1.1)
INT6000, INT6300
PLC Modems
Figure 7.9
Hardware architecture of a PLC modem
Figure 7.10
Wallmount and desktop PLC modems
Figure 7.11 illustrates a F@st Plug type Sagem USB PLC modem.
PLC Ethernet Modems
The generalization of network interface cards in computers, network terminals, and
electronic devices, even in household appliances, simplifies the building of networks
by using the Ethernet board’s RJ-45 connectors.
This type of modem has become the most widely used PLC device. As well as
being simple to use and configure, its price continues to fall.
Figure 7.12 illustrates a Devolo Ethernet PLC modem of the dLAN Ethernet
HighSpeed 85 type.
The Ethernet network interface card of PLC modems was the first of the 10
baseT type (10 Mbit/s) for HomePlug 1.0 modems providing a maximum useful
throughput at the MAC layer level of 8.2 Mbit/s, then of the 100baseT type (100
Mbit/s) for HomePlug Turbo and AV modems.
Figure 7.11
F@st Plug type Sagem USB PLC modem
Figure 7.12
Devolo Ethernet PLC modem of the dLAN Ethernet HighSpeed 85 type
The increased performance of HomePlug PLC devices will probably lead the
manufacturers to use 1,000baseT (1,000 Mbit/s) boards so that the throughput is
not limited over the Ethernet interface. It would not be surprising to come across
optical fiber PLC devices.
The Devolo company offers devices with the two USB and Ethernet interfaces.
Figure 7.13 illustrates a Devolo PLC modem of the dLAN duo type with USB
and Ethernet interfaces.
Figure 7.14 illustrates Devolo PLC modems complying with the HomePlug AV
standard with, on the left, a consumer wallmount-style model, in the middle, a professional desktop model and, on the right, a professional wallmount model with
Ethernet and USB interfaces.
PLC Cable TV Modems
Some manufacturers of PLC modems offer PLC devices used for the connection to a
cable television network. These devices are highly immune to electromagnetic disturbances.
The two following frequency bands are used by cable TV:
data in the 1 to 24 MHz band;
TV signal in the 47 to 862 MHz band.
PLC Modems
Figure 7.13
Devolo PLC modem of the dLAN duo type with USB and Ethernet interfaces
Figure 7.14
Devolo Homeplug AV PLC devices
The networks of cable operators are much less widespread than the electrical
network and generally have few TV sockets. However, such networks can end up
complementing the electrical network due to their relatively constant speed, which
in any case is more stable than that of the electrical network.
Since a cable TV network is a shared network, its speed is divided by the number of users on the medium.
The PLC cable TV devices use several types of connectors, in particular F-type
connectors for connection to cable TV. Over a cabled network, the propagation distance generally is 500 to 700m while keeping a high useful throughput.
Figure 7.15 illustrates, from the left to the right, a Corinex CableLAN cable TV
PLC modem, coaxial cables, a F-type connector, and a Channel Vision splitter.
PLC cable TV modems have evolved at the same time as the HomePlug
technologies and their bit rate. These modems can be used for the two following
Figure 7.15
Corinex CableLAN cable TV PLC modems, TV cables, F-type connector, and splitter
data circulation over the cable television network to make it the backbone of
the PLC network;
use of the coaxial interface with an adapter called “injector” (see later in this
chapter) used to emit the PLC signal directly over the electrical wiring without
using outlets.
Although these PLC modems use a medium that is not the electrical wiring, they
are compatible with HomePlug via HomeNetworking technologies such as
HomePNA (Home Phoneline Network Alliance) or UPA (Universal Powerline Association).
Table 7.4 gives the bit rates of the main PLC cable TV modems according to the
technology used.
The HomePNA standard also enables the use domestic telephone cables to convey data. The Corinex company markets the CableLAN Combo Adapter product in
particular, which uses the HomePNA 3.0 standard and has two interfaces: a coaxial
interface (F-type connector) and a telephone interface (RJ-11 connector).
PLC Modems Integrated with Electrical Outlets
Some manufacturers offer PLC modems directly integrated with electrical outlets.
The Lea and Legrand companies have developed a PLC outlet, called
“SmartPlug,” which integrates a HomePlug PLC modem into the outlet unit
and Ethernet RJ-45 connectors. The SmartPlug schematic diagram is illustrated in
Figure 7.16.
PLC/Wi-Fi Modems
As we’ll see in Chapter 13, dedicated to hybrid networks, the PLC and Wi-Fi technologies fully complement each other and enable users to build a complete network
with optimum radio coverage. The PLC network acts as the backbone of the Wi-Fi
network in order to provide a better radio coverage to this network.
The latest evolutions of the HomePlug technology make it possible to compare
the performance of the two technologies. HomePlug Turbo provides a maximum
useful throughput at the physical level of 85 Mbit/s, and the IEEE 802.11g standard
of 55 Mbit/s. The PLC/Wi-Fi devices make it possible to benefit both from easy PLC
use and Wi-Fi mobility.
Some of these devices integrate PLC and Wi-Fi components whereas other
devices provide PCMCIA slots in a PLC modem enabling the user to use the best
Wi-Fi board for his or her radio network.
Table 7.4 Bit Rates of the Main PLC Cable TV Modems
BIT RATE (Mbit/s)
Corinex CableLAN
HomePNA 1.0
Corinex CableLAN AV
HomePNA 3.0
Corinex CableLAN 200
PLC Modems
Figure 7.16
LEA-Legrand SmartPlug PLC outlet schematic diagram
Figure 7.17 illustrates Thesys (on the left) and Devolo MicroLink dLAN Wireless (on the right) PLC/Wi-Fi modems.
Some manufacturers are currently working on the optimization of the MAC
layer between PLC and Wi-Fi in order to increase the reliability of these hybrid networks and their performance at the MAC layer level. These projects should result in
products marketed in 2009.
One of the optimal PLC applications as a supplement to Wi-Fi consists of using
the lighting system of a building to build a PLC backbone and placing the
PLC/Wi-Fi devices close to the bulbs.
The Taiwanese company Lite-on offers the ORB product appearing as a Wi-Fi
PLC bulb that, in addition to its function as a lightbulb, is used for the efficient diffusion of the Wi-Fi radio signal in the room. This bulb is PLC connected both to the
lighting system and to the other PLC or PLC/Wi-Fi devices of the lighting system
and of the supply power system.
Multifunction PLC Modems
Some PLC products include various network functions meeting the requirements of
network engineers as well as users, in particular the following ones:
Ethernet PLC/hub modem used to connect several PCs to the same PLC
Ethernet modem.
Figure 7.17
Thesys and Devolo PLC/Wi-Fi modems
ADSL/router PLC modem used to transmit the signal originating from the
Internet connection over the electrical network. Some devices even add a Wi-Fi
Figure 7.18 illustrates Hub Netgear (on the left) and Thesys NetPlug (on the
right) PLC modems.
Figure 7.19 illustrates a Devolo dLAN ADSL modem router PLC device.
PLC Audio and Telephone Modems
Since PLC allows data to circulate over the electrical network, some manufacturers
have been developing audio and telephone PLC products for a long time.
An audio PLC modem connects to the electrical network on the one side and to a
hi-fi device, such as an audio speaker, an audio system, an audio file server, and so
forth, on the other.
Figure 7.20 illustrates a Devolo MicroLink dLAN Audio PLC modem with
Cinch (two for Out channels and two for In channels), SPDIF (one for In channel
and one for Out channel), and Audio Jack (one for In channel and one for Out chan-
Figure 7.18
Hub NetGear and Thesys NetPlug PLC modems
PLC Modems
Figure 7.19
Devolo ADSL/router PLC modem
Figure 7.20
Devolo MicroLink dLAN Audio PLC modem
nel) connectors used to broadcast four 192-Kbit/s audio channels over the electrical
The audio PLC modems must be configured to parameterize the components of
the PLC local area network and to load the plug-ins that the audio file servers
PLC can also be used to transmit the telephone analog signal within a building,
where only one or two telephone jacks for access to the public STN are usually
found. It is then convenient to use the electrical network existing in all the rooms to
have telephone jacks remote from the existing jacks.
In this case, two telephone PLC modems are used, one connected to the France
Télécom telephone incoming feeder and the other one to an outlet. The analog cellular telephone is connected to the second modem using an RJ-11 connector.
Figure 7.21 illustrates a Wingoline telephone PLC modem used to build a network with 24 modems maximum over the same electrical network. The frequency
band used ranges from 3.3 to 8.2 MHz, and the propagation distance over the
cables is 150m (slightly lower than that of Ethernet PLC modems).
Figure 7.21
Wingoline telephone PLC modem with two RJ-11 telephone interfaces
Methods for Accessing the Medium
In PLC networks, the method for accessing the medium consists of connecting the
PLC devices to the electrical network in order to obtain the best performance at the
physical level and the best useful throughput at the upper layer level as a result.
To connect a PLC device to the electrical network, there are two different methods, called “couplings”: capacitive coupling and inductive coupling.
The capacitive coupling is the coupling mostly used by PLC modems. The term
“capacitive” means that the PLC modem connected to the outlet is viewed as a
capacitance (i.e., a capacitor). Figure 7.22 illustrates the operating principle of
capacitive coupling.
Figure 7.22
Capacitive coupling principle
Methods for Accessing the Medium
In the electrical field, coupling can be defined as how two electrical circuits connect
together in order to generate an electron flow between these two circuits. This electron
flow is conveyed by an electric and a magnetic field created between the two electrical circuits due to their inductive and capacitive nature.
Inductive coupling is much more efficient than capacitive coupling. It uses the
electromagnetic induction method between two electrical wirings or between an
electrical wiring and a coil wound around this wiring. An inductive coupler reduces
the attenuation by 10 to 15 dB for some frequencies in comparison with a capacitive
coupler. The attenuation between the outlet and the switch box varies from 10 to 30
dB. It is maximum between 15 MHz and 20 MHz.
In the field of PLC networks, the injectors are devices used to connect a PLC
device to the electrical network via an inductive coupling directly around electrical
wirings, for example, at the level of the electrical switchboard of a building.
Figure 7.23 illustrates the principle of a PLC signal injector consisting of the
two following elements:
A magnetic coil wound around the neutral cable of the electrical network. As
we’ll see in chapters 11 and 12, the neutral cable is the most interesting cable
for the injection of the PLC signal over an electrical network, since it is distributed over all the electrical equipment.
A cable TV modem connected by a cable (for example, a coaxial cable) to the
magnetic coil.
Figure 7.23
PLC signal injection by inductive coupling with a coil over a single-phase network
Figure 7.24 illustrates the same principle but with two magnetic ferrites over a
three-phase network.
Choice of Injection Cable
It is preferable to inject the signal over the neutral cable for a single-phase network and on
one of the phases for a three-phase network. Better performance is achieved by injecting
the signal over a single cable than over several cables at the same time.
This method for connecting PLC devices requires access to the electrical wirings
of the 110 to 220V/50 to 60 Hz network, unlike capacitive coupling, which is
restricted to the connection of a device to an outlet. Therefore, it is important to
request a competent electrician to carry out the coupling operation that requires the
knowledge of the electrical hazards close to the cables and components of the electrical network.
Figure 7.25 illustrates an Eichhoff PLC injector with the magnetic coil open
(on the left) and closed (in the middle) as it is around the electrical wiring, and the
F-type coaxial connector (on the right) used to connect the injector to the cable TV
Figure 7.24 PLC signal injection by inductive coupling with two magnetic ferrites over a
three-phase network
Figure 7.25
Eichhoff PLC injector with coil and magnetic ferrites
Transformers and Meters
Direct Tap Methods
The “direct tap” methods are used to connect PLC devices directly to the network
electrical wirings by perforating the cable insulator and the electrical wiring itself.
Such methods require resorting to an electrician authorized to intervene on LV
(low voltage) or MV (medium voltage) electrical networks because of the electrical
Figure 7.26 illustrates the operating principle of direct tap coupling.
Transformers and Meters
To design the topology of a PLC network, it is necessary to know the range of the
PLC signal over the electrical network and to identify the points of the network that
may receive this signal. In addition, the PLC network can be secured with this information.
Some devices existing on the electrical network where PLC devices are installed
have an influence on the PLC network insofar as they can alter the signal and even
cut it off completely. It is then necessary to inject the signal at locations of the electrical network where the PLC signal may not be cut off. Among the devices of an
electrical network that may cut off the PLC signal, let’s mention the following
devices in particular:
The transformers consisting of two coils used to change the voltage from one
value to another one. These coils act as insulators between two parts of an
electrical network; this is called “galvanic isolation.”
Figure 7.26
PLC direct tap coupling
Some types of meters integrating a galvanic isolation also behave as PLC signal
cutters. However, these models are relatively rare and most meters allow the
PLC signal to pass.
In both cases, it may be useful to override these devices to allow the PLC signal
to extend over the entire electrical network.
Since transformers are inherently electrical devices ensuring a physical isolation
between two electrical circuits with a different voltage, they cannot be used to convey the PLC signal between the two parts of the network. In this case, it is necessary
to add a PLC device to the transformer; this device is used to retrieve the PLC signal
from one side of the transformer and to reinject it on the other side by re-amplifying
it so that the signal travels all over the LV electrical network up to the PLC modem
of the end user.
Figure 7.27 illustrates the transformer overriding principle with the various PLC
signal injection points and the PLC modem of the end user located behind the meter.
A PLC device used to override a transformer can only be installed by teams
accredited by the electrical network operator. This is because it is necessary to have
access to the MV/LV (medium voltage to low voltage) transformer vault.
Meters are used to measure the electrical consumption of a house and to invoice the
users of the electrical network or of another state-owned electrical company. These
Figure 7.27
Transformer overriding
are major components of an electrical network for the PLC signal since they separate the public electrical network from the electrical network of a building, of an
apartment, or of a company.
Most meters allow the PLC signal to pass on each side of the electrical network.
Therefore, it is important to correctly configure the PLC local area network encryption if the interception by a malevolent person of data flowing over the electrical
network is to be avoided.
Electromechanical meters are the oldest ones. These meters, dating from the
seventies, are very frequently encountered in electrical equipment. They allow the
PLC signal to pass on either side of the electrical circuit. Their evaluated PLC signal
attenuation is 20 dB.
Electromechanical meters were gradually replaced during the 1990s by electronic counters to prevent piracy. These meters, whose piracy is very difficult, are
used for remote meter readings via the EDF network using the very low rate, low
frequency PLC technology. They also allow the PLC signal to be transmitted. Their
evaluated PLC signal attenuation is 15 dB.
Repeaters are devices frequently used in telecommunications to regenerate the data
transmission signal when the distances are too long for the received signal to be
usable by the data transmission devices.
In the case of PLC networks, the electrical network causes attenuations of the
PLC signal (circulation of electrical network components, noises of the connected
devices, quality of the electrical wirings, and so forth) that sometimes make it
impossible to obtain a PLC link between two distant points of the network without
signal repetition.
There are two types of repeaters: passive repeaters and active repeaters. Passive
repeaters regenerate the PLC signal by using two PLC chips relaying the signal from
one chip to the other one. Repeating takes place both at the physical layer and MAC
layer levels. Active repeaters amplify the PLC signal on the electrical wiring without
using another PLC chip to relay the signal. Repeating only takes place at the physical layer level.
Figure 7.28 gives an example of repeater use.
Few repeaters can be found in stores since the PLC signal can be satisfactorily
broadcast using PLC devices. However, it may be interesting to repeat the PLC signal to obtain suitable bit rates over the entire electrical network.
The following PLC repeaters are available in stores:
Schneider IR LR 1100;
Asoka PL8230-2RP (active);
Oxance PLT300, PLT320 (active);
Figure 7.28
Example of PLC repeater use
Home-Made PLC Repeater
A home-made PLC repeater can be fabricated by using Ethernet PLC modems available in
All you have to do is to take two Ethernet PLC modems and connect them with an
Ethernet cable (crossover or straight-through cable depending on whether the network
interface cards are self-sense cards or not, i.e. that they can adapt or not to network cable
crossover). Two different PLC network keys must then be configured on each PLC modem;
each key is used by the modem for its connection to a part of the PLC network having the
same key (see Chapter 10).
Figure 7.29 illustrates this operating principle.
The two PLC subnetworks communicate between themselves via the repeater consisting of the two Ethernet modems with different encryption keys. However, the disadvantage of this configuration is to reduce the useful throughput of the entire PLC local area
network since the repeater uses the frequency band to regenerate the PLC signal on the
electrical network.
As indicated before, the electrical network is a communication medium that may be
altered by disturbances originating from the electrical devices connected to it. In par-
Figure 7.29
Home-made PLC repeater
ticular, these electrical devices send back electromagnetic noises in the frequency
band of the PLC devices. Therefore, it is interesting to install filters as close to the
disturbing devices as possible in order to stop frequencies generating disturbances.
A PLC filter can also be used to stop the outgoing PLC signal so that it does not
propagate outside of the electrical network demarcated by the meter.
Figure 7.30 illustrates an electrical network including PLC devices, disturbing
devices (light regulator, hairdryer, power strip, circuit breaker), and the location of
the PLC filters.
A filter is connected between the disturbing device and the electrical network. It
acts as an over-outlet above the outlet with the disturbing electrical device connecting to the filter.
Table 7.5 summarizes the main electrical devices that may disturb a local area
Figure 7.31 illustrates an Eichhoff PLC blocking filter. This device is placed
between the electrical switchboard and the domestic, professional or industrial electrical network to prevent the PLC signal from going over the meter and is recovered
from another electrical network.
CMM (Courant Multimédia) sells over-outlet antinoise filters that are placed
between the potentially disturbing devices of the PLC network and the outlet to
which the power supply of the device in question is connected. This device is illustrated in Figure 7.32.
The French PLC company LEA has developed a PLC all-in-one filter and
modem to be used on the electrical outlet, filtering the signal coming from the electrical devices connected on this electrical outlet. This device leaves the electrical
cable clean from the perturbations coming from the devices connected on a
multi-outlet plugged on the Lea NetSocket200+. This device is quite unique in the
PLC industry as a whole all-in-one device for filtering, saving an electrical outlet
and connecting multiple electrical devices. Figure 7.33 illustrates the Lea
Table 7.5 Electrical Devices Disturbing a PLC Network
Cathode ray tube display
Cathode ray tube
Drilling machine
Light regulator
Dimmer and Zener diodes
Halogen lamp
Dimmer and Zener diodes
Power strip
Defective electrical connections and
accumulation of devices on the same
Device with incorrect CE marking
Outside the disturbance templates
Figure 7.30
Installation of PLC filters on a domestic electrical network
The Cost of PLC
As a result of the evolving HomePlug specifications and increased demand, the
prices of PLC products did not stop falling in 2005 and 2006. Between 2003 (date
when the first HomePlug 1.0 products were released) and 2005, this fall was on the
order of 30%.
The Cost of PLC
Figure 7.31
Eichhoff PLC blocking filter
Figure 7.32
CMM antinoise PLC filter
Figure 7.33
Lea NetSocket200+
The emergence at the beginning of 2006 of HomePlug Turbo products accentuated this fall. We can consider that the price of the HomePlug 1.0 products will still
fall by another 20 to 50%.
As soon as the first HomePlug AV products appeared at the end of 2006, the
price of HomePlug Turbo products felt in turn by 10 to 20%.
For private individuals, PLCs are an ideal solution to share the same Internet
connection between two PCs. Moreover, this is the most usual application of PLC
devices. From now on, PLC devices, in particular multi-function PLC modems, integrate all kinds of functionalities and act as Internet modem, router, firewall, DHCP
server, switch, and Wi-Fi access point (i.e., six devices in one). If the cost of all these
functionalities is taken into account, the price of these PLC devices is after all rather
attractive, considering that it is no longer necessary to lay cables or drill holes.
In a company, for the Ethernet cabling of a building, cables must be pulled in all
the rooms and telecommunication closets must be installed, which is not the case
with PLC. Another advantage of PLC over Ethernet is the dynamic change of topology that it allows. In Ethernet, the topology change generally requires the laying of
new cables and results in additional costs.
Table 7.6 summarizes the costs of PLC devices at the end of the first quarter of
Table 7.6 Costs of PLC Devices
USB modem:
– HP 1.0
– Turbo
50 to 100
80 to 100
Ethernet modem:
– HP 1.0
– Turbo
– AV
50 to 100
80 to 100
100 to 300
Cable TV modem
100 to 300
Integrated outlet
100 to 300
PLC/Wi-Fi device
100 to 200
Multi-function PLC device
100 to 300
Audio and telephone PLC device
100 to 150
Inductive injector
200 to 400
200 to 400
The disturbances received and caused by PLC networks must be taken into account
when installing the network. The electrical topology of the building or buildings
where the devices will be installed is also a major element to be considered for building the architecture of the PLC network.
Therefore, the definition of the electrical network topology is an essential step.
It determines the PLC network data transmission performance. PLC devices,
whether mobile or fixed on the electrical network, provide various data link qualities depending on their position, the presence of disturbing electrical devices nearby,
and the filters installed to protect the electrical network from spurious frequency
Another constraint relates to the actual bit rates since the claimed rates never
correspond to what is available to the user. An unexpected lower bit rate generally
originates from some mechanisms offered by PLCs. However, this lower bit rate can
be minimized by choosing suitable mechanisms and associated parameters when
configuring PLC devices and, more especially, the PLC gateway or the central
As far as security is concerned, we can see that it is important to implement suitable techniques for data encryption and the separation of logical networks on the
electrical network, which can be viewed as a shared data bus. Since the PLC signal’s
propagation goes via the electrical meters for domestic, professional, or industrial
facilities, it is important to use passwords for the PLC local area network that protect data exchanges.
The modeling of an electrical network is difficult and the performance can
quickly vary according to the use of PLC devices. This chapter gathers useful information on understanding these variations and improving performance.
Frequency Bands
General public and professional PLCs use two frequency bands: the 3- to 148-kHz
frequency band for low rate technologies and the 1- to 30-MHz frequency band for
high rate technologies.
PLC technologies for MV (medium voltage) electrical networks, also called BPL
(broadband powerLine), may use the 30- to 50-MHz frequency band. These tech-
nologies are installed and implemented under the responsibility of MV electrical network operators.
The 3- to 148-kHz and 1-to 30-MHz bands are called license-free bands, meaning that there is neither a need to ask for authorization nor a need to pay for a subscription in order to use them. However, they are subject to regulation by the ETSI
(in Europe) and the FCC (in the USA) which lay down certain restrictions of their use
in terms of transmission power.
These bands are divided into sub-bands over which transmissions take place.
Insofar as all technologies use these frequency bands, standardization work is in
progress so that various PLC systems can coexist on the same electrical network. In
Chapter 14, we will once more discuss the coexistence and interoperability of PLC
Regulation of Radio Frequencies
The issue when deploying telecommunications networks is the achievement of the
best possible performance in terms of bit rate, latency, jitter, EMC (electromagnetic
compatibility), and coexistence of technologies while complying with the limits laid
down by the regulations in force.
Limits on the transmission power and authorized frequency bands are set by
these regulations. Rules are also promulgated concerning the acceptable level of disturbances created according to the various radio technologies (amateur radio, analog shortwave, digital radio waves, and so forth).
Due to their technology and medium, PLC devices emit radio waves induced in
the electrical wirings conveying the signals.
Unlike Wi-Fi wireless radio networks, PLC devices sold in stores in Europe try to
remain within the limits set by Cenélec (European committee for electrotechnical
standardization) and ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute).
These devices are de facto designed to comply with these limits, and no hardware or
software modification is authorized to override them.
The software element of HomePlug devices does not give access to any hardware
parameters (carrier frequency, frequency sub-bands, or transmission power). This
means that the Ethernet frames sent by the configuration tools of PLC devices (see
Chapter 10) cannot be used to modify the frequencies and power used by the
devices. Therefore, for the PLC network user, the configuration does not give access
to the physical layer’s parameters, unlike Wi-Fi, with its 11 channels and its
parameterization of the interface transmission power.
Figure 8.1 illustrates the sending of a frame by the configuration tool to the PLC
device to be configured. This frame is a conventional Ethernet frame recognizable
on a network with its ETHERTYPE field, which, in its data, contains the parameters
to be configured so that the PLC network can operate in the best way possible.
The frequency utilization spectrum defined by the ETSI is globally broken down
as illustrated in Figure 8.2. Referring to the rules promulgated by the regulatory
authorities, it gives an idea on the distribution of general public radio frequencies
close to those used by the various PLC technologies.
Frequency Bands
Figure 8.1
Ethernet frame for the configuration of a HomePlug network
Figure 8.2
PLC frequency bands
As explained before, the PLC networks are not radio networks, but their implementation over electrical wiring produces radiated waves that propagate with the
wiring acting as radio aerials. Therefore, PLC networks are viewed by the telecommunications regulatory bodies as radio networks that, as such, must comply with
transmission power and frequency band constraints.
As indicated before, the frequencies used by high rate PLC are within the 1- to
30-MHz band. This band is also used by amateur radio and future digital
short-wave radio called DRM (Digital Radio Mondial), which will be used to
broadcast digital quality radio programs over very long-range links and also to
transfer data at rates of some tens of kilobits/s.
The disturbances caused by PLC networks for amateur radio operators and the
DRM have been the subject of many discussions to make it possible for various technologies to coexist. These discussions have led the developers of PLC technologies to
include filtering techniques for frequencies already used by other radio technologies.
These techniques, called “notching,” consist of listening to the radio channels to
readjust or take away some frequencies.
Dynamic Notching of Frequency Bands
As illustrated in Figure 8.3, when the PLC network notices that the f1 and f2 frequencies are
used, it takes away the frequency bands containing f1 and f2 in its authorized spectrum.
These frequency bands are still off throughout the use of f1 and f2, then on again as soon as
these frequencies are no longer used.
This dynamic technique is based on listening to the signal-to-noise level measured in
dB for each frequency band.
Low Bit Rate PLC
Mainly used in home automation and car automation (industrial bus of automotive
vehicles), the frequencies authorized for low bit rate PLC are described by the
Cenélec in the EN-50065-1 standard. This standard defines the utilization characteristics of all the frequency bands between 3 kHz and 148 kHz. The PLC signal
transmission power is limited by the maximum permitted voltage, which is 3.5V for
these frequency bands.
Table 8.1 summarizes the characteristics of low bit rate PLC frequency bands.
As a reminder, the AM radio band covers the 162 to 252 kHz spectrum.
Figure 8.3
Notching of congested frequencies
Frequency Bands
Table 8.1
Cenélec Frequency Bands for Low Bit Rate PLC
3 to 9 kHz
Limited to electrical network operators for their
specific needs, like remote meter reading
9 to 95 kHz
Limited to electrical network operators
95 to 125 kHz
Home automation use (baby phones, and so forth)
125 to 140 kHz
Home automation use (X10, and so forth)
140 to 148 kHz
Home automation use
Particular Case of EDF Pulsadis Signal (France) for Day/Night Tariff
The Pulsadis signal is better known as the day-night signal, since it is used by EDF meters in
France to switch over a number of energized devices during the night to benefit from EJP
tariffs or EDP timers. This signal is sent over the EDF electrical distribution network at the
frequency of 175 Hz.
Figure 8.4 illustrates the electrical architecture of an LV electrical network with implementation of the Pulsadis signal from EDF monitoring stations to the subscriber’s meter.
Once received by EDF day/night tariff meters, this signal triggers the contactors of
duly fitted electrical devices at the domestic circuit breaker panel. For instance, this makes
it possible to turn on water heaters during the night before switching back to full rate at 7
This is a low frequency signal that enables its good propagation over the electrical network. Its 175-Hz frequency is different from 50 Hz and its related harmonics (100 Hz, 300
Hz, 600 Hz, and so forth). The signal consists of one-second binary pulses spaced out by
one and a half seconds. This is a 102.25-second frame.
High Bit Rate PLC
The 1- to 30-MHz frequency band of high bit rate PLCs is more or less used. It is
generally viewed as consisting of two sub-bands, a 1- to 20-MHz lower band, which
is especially used in domestic usage internal PLC, and a 2-to 30-MHz upper band,
which is especially reserved for medium voltage electrical network public usage
external PLC.
As far as domestic usage internal PLC are concerned, the various technologies
used, which are all based on OFDM, share the frequency band differently to achieve
the best possible performance in terms of bit rate and latency. This performance is
obtained by constantly improving the physical layer (PHY), data link layer, and
MAC layer modulation techniques including their methods for access to the physical medium.
HomePlug 1.0 uses the 4.49 to 20.7-MHz band and 84 sub-carriers with division of the 0 to 25 MHz frequency band into 128 bands of 195,3125 kHz. In this
way, if each band is numbered from 1 to 128, HomePlug 1.0 uses bands 23 to 106.
In the United States, some bands 23 to 106 are used by ham radio operators
(17m, 20m, 30m, 40m). Therefore, eight bands corresponding to the frequencies of
Figure 8.4
Architecture for Pulsadis signal implementation over the EDF LV electrical network
ham radio operators are not used. The total HomePlug 1.0 bands are therefore equal
to de 84 − 8 = 76.
Table 8.2 summarizes the high rate frequency bands which can be used according to each type of PLC technology.
Since the 1- to 30-MHz frequency band is divided into sub-bands, each subband conveys the OFDM modulation carriers at the transmission channel level.
Therefore, and unlike Wi-Fi, there are no channels, strictly speaking, which could be
configured to build the network architecture. In PLCs, the entire frequency band is
used as the transmission channel; all sub-bands are used for improved transmission
Table 8.2
Frequency Bands of High Rate PLC Technologies
HomePlug 1.0
4.49 to 20.7 MHz
HomePlug 1.1
HomePlug AV
2-28 MHz
–45 Mbit/s
–200 Mbit/s
–1.6 to 30 MHz
–2.46 to 11.725 MHz +
13.8 to 22.8 MHz
–1,280 + 1,280
–2 to 30 MHz
–30 to 60 MHz (external)
4.3 to 13 MHz
Frequency Bands
In addition, and unlike Wi-Fi, the network configuration does not require you
to make choices according to the other assigned channels. All the channels of the
permitted bands, called “sub-bands” are used. Therefore, the network can be congested by the various technologies coexisting on the same electrical network. In this
case, free or infrequently used sub-bands are used by PLC technology. In Chapter
13, we’ll examine the coexistence of PLC technologies and the work in progress on
an interoperability standard.
Figure 8.5 illustrates the frequency domain of the various PLC modulation
OFDM sub-bands and the associated binary data in the case of a HomePlug 1.0
PLC network.
Electromagnetic Compatibility and Frequency Bands
The various electrical and electronic devices that we use within a domestic, professional, or industrial background produce radio electromagnetic emissions in the
environment close to where they operate.
The frequencies of these radio electromagnetic devices may interfere with the
operation of the network’s PLC devices and prevent data communications in frequency sub-bands. Some devices produce more disturbances than other devices on
PLC networks. For example, the CE marking in force in the European Community
stipulates the limits for the radioelectromagnetic emissions of electrical and electronic devices sold in stores.
Chapter 7 (see Table 7.7) gives a list of PLC network disturbing devices. We’ll
examine this a bit further in this chapter about interference.
Reciprocally, PLC devices emit electromagnetic waves that may interfere with
the operation of the surrounding telecommunications devices around the electrical
wirings. The CISPR (international special committee on radio interference) of the
IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) indicates wave emission limits for
PLC devices.
Current PLC technologies, such as HomePlug AV, implement a notching technique in order to comply with these emission constraints.
Figure 8.5
HomePlug 1.0 PLC modulation OFDM sub-bands
Figure 8.6 shows that the transmission channel can be viewed as N sub-bands
with their sub-carriers, all of them operating simultaneously and each conveying
part of the physical layer data.
Transmission Power of PLC Devices
The measured power of the signal emitted by marketed PLC devices is usually 20
dBm (measured in the 1 to 30 MHz band).
The power can be expressed by variables P or G:
P = 10G 10 and G = 10 log P
where G corresponds to the gain (in dBm or dBi) and P to the power (in mW).
Table 8.3 gives the correspondence between the power and the gain.
Since the power limit is set to 100 mW (equivalent to 20 dBm measured in the 1to 30-MHz band) for the electrical networks’ PLC devices, the performance of the
transmission channels depends on the signal range.
To be in line with the regulations in terms of EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) laid down by the CISPR committee, PLC devices must limit their transmission
power. This transmission power is measured as a quasipeak value, and not as a
mean value. In the frequency domain, this corresponds to a PSD (power spectral
density), i.e., a uniform distribution of the total transmission power on all the frequency sub-bands of the 1- to 30-MHz band.
Figure 8.6
PLC technology multichannel OFDM modulation
Frequency Bands
Table 8.3 Gain/Power
(IN dBm)
(IN mW)
The HomePlug 1.0 technology includes 84 sub-bands of 195.31 kHz, whereas
HomePlug AV comprises 918 narrower sub-bands of 24.414 kHz. Therefore, the
PSD wave is less important in HomePlug AV, which makes it possible to increase
the transmission power by 2.2 dB for PPDU data.
Figure 8.7 illustrates the PSD deviation between HomePlug 1.0 and AV. The
PSD is expressed in dBm/Hz.
Table 8.4 summarizes the mean transmission power of the various components
of the HomePlug’s physical frame in these two versions.
The HomePlug 1.0 and AV specifications stipulate that, in order to comply with
the EM (electromagnetic) emission limits, the PSD of PLC devices must be equal to
or less than −50 dBm/Hz.
Figure 8.7
PSD differences between HomePlug 1.0 (top) and HomePlug AV (bottom)
Table 8.4 Transmission Power in Each Sub-Band
HomePlug 1.0.1
HomePlug AV
3 dB
3 dB
FC (Frame Control)
0 dB
3 dB
PPDU data
0 dB
2.2 dB
PRS (Priority Resolution Symbol)
3 dB
3 dB
Figure 8.8 illustrates the HomePlug AV PSD curve in the 1- to 30-MHz band.
We clearly observe that some frequencies are less emissive than other ones (–80 dB
in comparison with −50 Hz). We can consider that a frequency, the PSD of which is
around −80 dB, is not perceptible for the electrical network and the devices close to
electrical wiring.
Table 8.5 summarizes the various HomePlug AV sub-bands, from 1.71 to 28
MHz, with their maximum PSD (expressed in dBm/Hz) and whether the sub-band is
active or not (if another technology already uses this sub-band), with the numbers of
sub-bands 0 to 1,535. The last column gives the radio technologies in this sub-band.
Topology of Electrical Networks
There are two wiring types for the electrical networks of any building, whether
domestic, professional, or industrial:
Single-phase, consisting of two cables (neutral and phase). The electrical
potential difference between these two cables is 110V or 220V flowing from
the circuit breaker panel to the outlets and lights of the building.
Three-phase, consisting of four cables (neutral and three phases). The electrical potential difference between the neutral cable and a phase cable is 110V or
Figure 8.8
Limit PSD mask for HomePlug AV in the 1- to 30-MHz frequency band
Topology of Electrical Networks
Table 8.5
PSD and Regulations in Each HomePlug AV Sub-Band
F ≤ 1.71
Carriers 0–70 off
AM broadcast band and below
1.71 < F < 1.8
Carriers 71–73 off
Between AM band and 160m
amateur band
1.8 ≤ F ≤ 2
Carriers 74–85 off
160m amateur band
2 < F < 3.5
Carriers 86–139 on
HomePlug carriers
3.5 ≤ F ≤ 4
Carriers 140–167 off
80m amateur band
4 < F < 5.33
Carriers 168–214 on
HomePlug carriers
5.33 ≤ F ≤ 5.407
Carriers 215–225 off
5 MHz amateur band
5.407 < F < 7
Carriers 226–282 on
HomePlug carriers
7 ≤ F ≤ 7.3
Carriers 283–302 off
40m amateur band
7.3 < F < 10.10
Carriers 303–409 on
HomePlug carriers
10.10 ≤ F ≤ 10.15
Carriers 410–419 off
30m amateur band
10.15 < F < 14
Carriers 420–569 on
HomePlug carriers
14 ≤ F ≤ 14.35
Carriers 570–591 off
20m amateur band
14.35 < F < 18.068
Carriers 592–736 on
HomePlug carriers
18.068 ≤ F ≤ 18.168
Carriers 737–748 off
17m amateur band
18.168 < F < 21
Carriers 749–856 on
HomePlug carriers
21 ≤ F ≤ 21.45
Carriers 857–882 off
15m amateur band
21.45 < F < 24.89
Carriers 883–1,015 on
HomePlug carriers
24.89 ≤ F ≤ 24.99
Carriers 1,016–1,027 off
12m amateur band
24.99 < F < 28
Carriers 1,028–1,143 on
HomePlug carriers
F ≤ 28
Carriers 1,144–1,535 off
10m amateur band
220V and is 190V or 380V between two phase cables. A three-phase electrical
network rather than a single-phase network is used in some buildings since it
makes it possible to convey more electrical power and therefore to supply
more electrical devices in the building. Three-phase networks are also used to
supply motors requiring a three-phase voltage for their operation.
Both topologies are described more precisely in the following sections.
Single-Phase Wiring
Most dwellings (apartment, house, small building) have single-phase wirings, since
their electrical power supply requirements are less than a 60-A current.
As illustrated by Figure 8.9, a single-phase electrical wiring includes several
cables (bus-bar connections) starting from the circuit breaker panel to supply power
to the home’s electrical devices and lights.
Figure 8.10 illustrates the topology of the single-phase electrical network of an
apartment with the various cables starting from the circuit breaker panel. The PLC
devices and modems connect to the outlets of the house rooms. The PLC signal
Figure 8.9
Figure 8.10
Topology of a domestic single-phase electrical network
Topology of an apartment single-phase electrical network
Topology of Electrical Networks
propagates over the cables then goes via the circuit breaker panel to start at the various cables again. The wiring length can exceed 300m, which is considered as the
acceptable limit for a satisfactory useful throughput.
The electrical devices connected to the network are potential sources of electromagnetic disturbances for the PLC signal. Remember that the average length of the
electrical wiring between the switchboard and the farthest outlet should not exceed
Three-Phase Wiring
Buildings, large houses, professional premises, or plants have greater electrical
power requirements than a domestic dwelling; therefore, the electrical network is
often a three-phase network in them.
Four cables (neutral, phases 1, 2, and 3) start from the circuit breaker panel and
supply the outlets of the building. Figure 8.11 illustrates an example of three- phase
wiring in a building with several stories with the various electrical phases supplying
the building stories. Two cables starting from the switchboard travel all over each
story: a phase cable and the neutral cable.
The single cable that is common to the entire building is the neutral cable. The
other cables are electrically dissociated. It is important to remember that the PLC
signal flowing in one of the cables (neutral or phase cable) can be transmitted in the
other cables due to an induction phenomenon. This makes it possible to build the
topology of the PLC local area network by making optimal use of the properties of
the electrical wirings.
Figure 8.11
Topology of a three-phase electrical network for a large building
Like for single-phase networks, the average distance between the circuit breaker
panel and the last outlet connected to the electrical wiring must not exceed 200m. If
the PLC signal flows over the cables, goes through the circuit breaker panel, and
propagates over other cables again, then distance is greater than 200m, and the useful throughput may fall.
The PLC signal also goes through the meter and may reach the electrical network of the adjacent building, which can turn out to be useful if building a PLC local
area network between buildings is desired. However, this requires good security for
the PLC signal to avoid listening to the PLC network.
Wiring in an Electrical Network
The signal propagation may be affected by the cable section. To simplify, we can say
that the higher the cable section, the higher its attenuation.
Table 8.6 summarizes the various cable sections between the utility meter and
the circuit breaker panel.
Table 8.7 lists the recommended electrical conductor sections according to the
function of the device connected to this cable (NFC 15-100 standard). Therefore,
the cable sections that are mainly used are 1.5 mm² or 2.5 mm².
The Circuit Breaker Panel
The circuit breaker panel is the heart of the electrical network, from which all the
electrical wirings start. This panel is also the component protecting people from
Table 8.6 EDF Connection Cable Section
According to Delivered Power
Table 8.7
10 mm
16 mm2
25 mm
Sections of Conducting Cables According to Electrical Devices
NFC 15-100 standard
Lighting and controlled outlet
Stove (oven + plate) or solid plate
Oven alone
Two hobs (studio)
Thermal storage water heater
Heating: convector, panel heater
1.5 mm minimum
Topology of Electrical Networks
electrical hazards. The protecting devices are called “circuit breakers” (or fuses for
old networks). They may be of several types. Each circuit breaker has specific characteristics concerning the attenuation of the PLC signal conveyed over the cable.
Figure 8.12 illustrates an example of a closed (on the left), open (in the middle),
and front elevation (on the right) circuit breaker panel. The devices connected to the
panel are identified in it.
Attenuation on an Electrical Network
We have seen that, beyond a linear length of 300m (in a wound electrical cable, the
self-induction phenomenon does not give the same results), the useful throughput
quickly falls, due to the signal attenuation, to such an extent that it becomes too low
to offer a satisfactory quality of service for upper layer applications.
Each cable has a different section and impedance characteristics inducing different PLC signal attenuations. At 100m, the attenuation of the HNS33S33 cable used
in LV public networks is 14 dB for a PLC signal at the frequency of 30 MHz.
There are several types of electrical wirings for an LV (low voltage) installation
in a building:
Cables called conductors, phase, neutral, and ground are placed in the walls
or in individual sheaths but are not grouped in one single sheath. This wiring
type induces a higher electromagnetic emission in the immediate environment. Due to the loss of these electromagnetic emissions, the PLC signal propagation over the cables is subjected to a rather high attenuation. These cables
are typically found in installations under the H07 V-U or H07 V-R (rigid conductors), H07 V-K (flexible conductors), P/N for conduit, molding, or plinth
P, N, and G cables are installed together in a twisted way with the ground
cable in the middle of the twist inside a sheath. A much better propagation of
the PLC signal is achieved with this type of cable since the cables induce electromagnetic couplings between themselves. In addition, just like the telephone
cable, the twisted arrangement allows better guidance of the PLC signal and
makes it possible to avoid attenuations caused by electromagnetic leakage in
the immediate environment. The signal is still relatively confined in the sheath
and achieves better performance, with respect both to the distance and bit
rate. These cables are typically found in installations under FR-N 05 VV-U or
R (rigid cables), A05 VV-F or H07 RNF (flexible cables), P/N for surface
mountings, in air spaces, moldings, plinths, or conduits.
P, N, and G cables are twisted together by the electrical installer before placing them in raceways or in the building walls. This wiring type provides a
good propagation of the PLC signal and very little loss due to electromagnetic
Recommended Cable Length in an Average Domestic Installation
If we take the case of an average house (i.e., a 100-m² F4 single-story house or a 65-m²
T3-T4 apartment), the general cable length between the circuit breaker panel and the out-
Figure 8.12
Circuit breaker panel of a domestic installation
Topology of Electrical Networks
lets is 15m. The maximum cable length between the circuit breaker panel and the farthest
point (luminous point or outlet) generally is 50m.
It is important to limit the voltage drop in the electrical cables to 2% to keep an
acceptable voltage for the electrical devices connected to the installation network.
The following formula is used to determine the corresponding single-phase cable
L = Δu ×
1 S
(length expressed in meters)
100 2ρ I
Δu is the voltage drop as a percentage.
U0 is the voltage of the electrical network (110V or 230V).
is the resistiveness of the electrical wiring (0.023 for copper and 0.037 for aluminum).
S is the cable section in mm².
I is the strength of the current flowing through the cable, expressed in A.
For a copper single-phase cable with a voltage drop of 2%, this formula becomes:
L = 100 ×
For a cable supplying luminous points with a 1.5-mm² section and a maximum permitted current of 16A, it is recommended to have a cable length of 9.3m. For a cable supplying outlets with a 2.5-mm section and maximum permitted current of 20A, it is
recommended to have a cable length of 12.5m.
Choosing the Topology for a PLC Network
The PLC local area network must adapt to the electrical network of the building.
Each building can have various types of cables, various circuit breaker panels, various circuit breakers, various cut-out switches (fuses, circuit breakers), and also circuit components connected in series (outlets connected in series to the electrical
wiring) or in parallel (outlets directly connected to cables from the circuit breaker
In the same manner as a Wi-Fi network must adapt to the structure of the walls
of a building, which act as many obstacles to the propagation of radio waves, a PLC
network must adapt to the electrical network and to raceways, which act as obstacles to the propagation of the PLC signal.
The topology of the PLC local area network must adapt to that of the electrical
network in one or several of the following ways:
Insofar as possible, determine the topology of the electrical network, for
example by recovering the network diagram or by performing PLC tests on
the various outlets of the building.
Find the best points for the connection of PLC devices to the electrical network in order to achieve the best possible PLC coverage. The circuit breaker
panel is a central point for the electrical network since all the electrical wirings
originate from it.
Identify the areas of the electrical network where the PLC signal is not received
and the parts of the building connected to other electrical networks or through
various outlets revealing excessive cable lengths or subjected to too many disturbances.
We’ll examine this topology choice again in Chapters 11 and 12.
Propagation of the PLC Signal
One of the recurrent problems with the PLC technology is the signal propagation
over electrical wirings. Since these wirings have a specific resistiveness, the signal
propagation is subjected to an attenuation proportional to the cable length.
The tests performed by PLC device manufacturers and telecommunications test
laboratories, as well as feedback from deployed PLC networks, are used to set some
Figures relating to the PLC signal propagation.
“Internal” cables are cables used in private electrical networks (i.e. in domestic,
professional, and industrial buildings). The signal attenuation according to the cable
length can be evaluated with the various measurements carried out on copper electrical wirings of 1.5 and 2.5 mm diameters.
Figure 8.13 illustrates the results of these tests at three significant frequencies:
10 MHz, 20 MHz, and 30 MHz. We notice that the attenuation is higher for higher
frequencies of the 1 to 30-MHz band. Since the cable length of a domestic installation is 200m on average, the PLC signal attenuation allows for the maintaining of
data exchanges, since the devices use interfaces that are sensitive enough to receive
the signal.
“External” cables are cables that belong to the public electrical network of the
utility. These cables are of the three-phase LV or MV type and are either buried, and
Figure 8.13
PLC signal attenuation according to inside cable length
Table 8.8
Distance for PLC Signal Propagation over External Cables
Oxance HomePlug Turbo (1.1)
are therefore relatively insensitive to electromagnetic disturbances, or aerial cables,
in which case they are more sensitive to electromagnetic disturbances but much less
so than inside cables that are subject to disturbances close to those of various
domestic devices.
Table 8.8 summarizes the results obtained for various PLC technologies.
The interference notion is essential in PLC networks. The PLC signal that propagates over electrical wirings causes electromagnetic emissions in the 1 to 30 MHz
frequency band in the cables’ immediate environment and is itself disturbed by the
electrical devices connected to the electrical network.
In addition, a link between two PLC stations does not necessarily have the same
characteristics in both communication directions. The physical characteristics of
the communication medium (impedance, charge, capacity) can therefore change
according to the signal propagation direction.
The various national, European, and international standardization bodies have
set up regulations intended to determine the electromagnetic emissions limits for
PLC devices operating over an electrical network. As we saw in Chapter 1, the electromagnetic emissions of these devices must remain less than a set maximum
quasipeak value. This PSD (power spectral density) boundary value has been
defined by the IEC CISPR 22 amendment as being –50 dBm/Hz.
Effects of Interference on the Electrical Network
The PLC network is subject to interference and electromagnetic disturbances originating from the electrical devices connected to the network outlets.
Figure 8.14 illustrates the disturbance sources that a PLC local area network
can receive.
The use of electrical devices and their actuation generate various noises (broadband, impulse, Gaussian, and so forth) that can be evaluated to an average noise of
amplitude 30 dBìV/m over the entire 1- to 30-MHz frequency band.
It is difficult to make an exhaustive list of devices generating these noises, but
many devices have been identified as potential sources: plasma displays, halogen
lamps, vacuum cleaners, light regulators, microwave ovens, television sets, computer screens, air conditioning, heating appliances, and so forth.
Figure 8.15 illustrates the various disturbances of electrical devices as a mean
value of various measurements performed on many domestic installations according to the day hours. The end of the day is obviously loaded with disturbances since
many devices simultaneously operate on the electrical network. In the figure, we see
that the disturbance amplitude varies according to the frequency, with two higher
amplitude peaks being around 10 MHz and 20 MHz.
The technologies have greatly improved to ensure the robustness of data communications over electrical wirings, but it may be necessary to take some precautions with some electrical devices like halogen lamps or vacuum cleaners connected
to the same outlet as a PLC device.
Figure 8.14
Electromagnetic disturbances caused by PLC devices connected to the electrical
Figure 8.15
the day
Disturbance amplitude on a domestic electrical network according to the hours of
Network Data Rates
Figure 8.16 illustrates how a power strip must be used with a PLC device. A
power strip is inherently a source of noise for PLC devices to which the noise of disturbing devices connected to it must be added. In all cases, it is preferable to connect
the PLC device directly to the wall outlet whenever possible or to connect it to a
“biplite” (two outlet wall power strip).
Network Data Rates
In addition to electromagnetic disturbances, a PLC network is subject to constraints
related to the technology itself. These constraints relate to the data rate that never
corresponds to the expected rate and security.
The theoretical data rate of HomePlug 1.0 networks is between 1 Mbit/s and 14
Mbit/s. The 14-Mbit/s data rate is only a theoretical value roughly corresponding to
a useful throughput of 5 Mbit/s, i.e., 0.625 Mb/s. HomePlug Turbo and AV provide
a theoretical data rate of 5 to 85 Mbit/s and 10 to 200 Mbit/s, respectively, for a useful throughput of 1 to 20 Mbit/s and 5 to 60 Mbit/s, respectively.
The size of the frame headers used in HomePlug and the use of a number of
mechanisms enabling a reliable transmission in an electrical environment mainly
explain this difference. Part of the transmitted data is used for the control and management of the transmission to make it reliable. Only a fraction of the data rate
emitted by the device corresponds to the conveyance of the data itself.
Useful Throughput Calculation
The useful throughput corresponds to the rate for data transmitted at OSI layer
level n. The useful throughputs of levels 1, 2, 3, and so forth correspond to the rates
Figure 8.16
Optimum use of power strips and double outlets
for data at these levels, which is calculated according to the overhead used for managing and sending the transmission.
As we saw in Chapter 5, the data sent over this electrical interface corresponds
to a physical frame, or PLCP-PDU. This frame consists of a PLCP header comprised
of two fields and data originating from the MAC layer. As illustrated in Figure 8.17,
each part of the PLCP-PDU is sent at different speeds.
The PCLP-PDU header includes start and end delimiters. These headers are
transmitted at a speed of 1 Mbit/s in the case of the long preamble.
The second PLCP-PDU field corresponds to the MAC frame itself. This frame is
sent at rates that can be as high as 1 to 4.5, 9, or 14 Mbit/s as far as HomePlug 1.0 is
concerned. The PLC uses its data rate variation mechanism to transmit at different
rates according to the characteristics of the electrical environment.
The transfer time, which is equal to the propagation time increased by the transmission time, must be known to calculate the level 2 useful throughput. Since the
electrical interface is used as the transmission medium, we can consider that the
propagation time is equal to zero, as the electron moving speed over an electrical
wiring is equivalent to the speed of light. The transmission time (Tt) therefore corresponds to the time required for data sending.
By definition, the level 2 useful throughput (Du) corresponds to the volume of
transmitted payload divided by the overall transmission time, i.e.:
Du =
Let us consider a HomePlug 1.0 network whose frames use a short preamble and
in which the transmission speed is 14 Mbit/s for all the stations. We are going to calculate the useful throughput (Du1) of a PLCP-PDU when sending 1,500-byte data.
Since the payload size is known, the transmission time, which is equivalent to the
sum of the PLCP-PDU header transmission time and of the MAC data transmission
time, is still to be calculated.
The MAC frame data comprise a 34-byte header. Therefore, their size is 1,534
bytes. Their transmission time (TtMAC) is given by the following formula:
Figure 8.17
Structure of a PLCP-PDU
Network Data Rates
Tt MAC =
bytes × 8 bit byte
≈ 0000876
14 Mbit/s
The 120-bit PLCP-PDU header is sent at a rate of 1 Mbit/s. Therefore, its transmission time (TtPLCP-PDU) is:
Tt PLCP − PDU = 72 μs + 15
. μs + 72 μs ≈ 145.5 μs
The total transmission time (Tt1) is therefore equivalent to:
Tt 1 = Tt MAC + Tt PLCP − PDU ≈ 00010215
The useful throughput is equivalent to the volume of transmitted information,
i.e., 1,500 bytes (12,000 bits) divided by the transmission time, i.e., 1.021 ms,
which corresponds to 11.74 Mbits/s:
Du1 =
bytes × 8 bit byte
≈ 1174
. Mbit / s
Tt 1
However, this data rate does not correspond to the reality. In the PLC, the sending of data must comply with some rules related to the CSMA/CA (carrier sense
multiple access/collision avoidance) access method. This method is based on certain
mechanisms detailed in Chapter 3 that generate a rather high overhead.
In the ideal case where a single station transmits over the medium, when the
station transmits data, it listens to the medium. If the medium is free, it defers its
transmission while it waits for a CIFS time. When the CIFS times out, and if the
medium is still free, it transmits its data. Once the data transmission is completed,
the station waits for an RIFS time to know whether its data have been acknowledged. As illustrated in Figure 8.18, the minimum overhead generated by the transmissions of the CIFS and RIFS timers of the ACK and of the headers is far from
being negligible.
Figure 8.18
Minimum overhead when transmitting data
We are going to calculate the useful throughput associated with this ideal case
(Du2). As in the example above, we consider the use of short preambles for
1,500-byte data transmitted at a speed of 14 Mbit/s.
According to our preceding calculations, the data transmission time corresponds to Tt1, i.e.:
Tt Data =
bytes × 8 bit byte
+ 145.5 μs ≈ 000167
14 Mbit/s
Since the duration of the ACK frame is 72 μs, its transmission time is equal to:
Tt ACK = 72 μs + 145.5 μs = 00002175
CIFS and RIFS are fixed value timers. However, this value varies from one technology to another. For HomePlug 1.0, the value is 35.84 μs for CIFS and 26 µs for
Therefore, the overall transmission time is equal to:
Tt 2 = CIFS + Tt Data + RIFS + Tt ACK ≈ 0001949
In our ideal case, the useful throughput is therefore equal to:
Du 2 =
bytes × 8 bit byte
≈ 6157
Tt 2
We notice that the higher the overhead, the lower the useful throughput. Since a
single station transmits over the medium, this data rate corresponds to the maximum useful throughput.
Everything gets more complicated when the network consists of more than two
stations that simultaneously attempt transmissions over the medium. When a station hears that the medium is busy after trying to get access to the medium or after
waiting for a CIFS, it defers its transmission. For this purpose, it triggers a timer calculated using the back-off algorithm.
The additional waiting time and the random back-off timer obviously increase
the overhead as illustrated by Figure 8.19.
Figure 8.19
Maximal overhead when transmitting data
Network Data Rates
The transmission time (Tt3) becomes:
Tt 3 + TWait + CIFS + TBackoff + Tt Data + RIFS + Tt ACK
Since the waiting time and the back-off timer are not fixed, it is difficult to
determine their values. However, we can consider that the sum of the waiting time
and back-off time is generally equivalent to the transmission time in the ideal case.
The back-off timer can be considered as zero compared with the waiting time. As
for the waiting time, it corresponds to the transmission time of another station.
Therefore, the useful throughput is equivalent to:
Du 3 =
Tt 3
TWait + TBackoff + Tt 1
and is formulated as:
Du 3 ≈
Data Du 2
2Tt 1
When the network consists of two stations, the useful throughput of each station is almost equal to the maximum useful throughput divided by the number of
stations forming the network. This formula can be generalized for a PLC network
consisting of n stations transmitting at the same speed.
The useful throughput for each station is equivalent to:
Du 3 ≈
Du 2
In addition, only the level 2 useful throughput was taken into account in our
preceding calculations. However, the MAC frame data correspond to an LLC frame
with a 4-byte header containing an IP packet with a 20-byte header. The IP packet
itself includes a TCP segment with a 24-byte header containing user data. Therefore, we have a total of 48 additional overhead bytes. Data processing for the upper
layers (layers 3 and 4), which also generates overhead, was not taken into account.
To conclude, we can say that a PLC network never reaches the claimed capacity
on the physical medium. If data is transmitted at the speed of 14 Mbit/s, the number
of data bits for the user only represents approximately half of the raw capacity of
the electrical interface, i.e., 5 Mbit/s (625 Kb/s) in our example on average.
Table 8.9 summarizes the useful throughputs of various types of local area networks.
Compared with the transmission speed over the medium, the useful throughput
is much higher in Ethernet than in PLC.
Maximum PLC Actual Data Rate
After calculating PLC level 2 useful throughputs in the preceding section, we’ll go to
an upper level. For this purpose, we’ll use the Iperf traffic generator available at the
following address: http://dast.nlanr.net/Projects/Iperf/.
Table 8.9
Useful Throughputs of Local Area Networks
Ethernet 10
Ethernet 100
HomePlug 1.0
HomePlug Turbo
HomePlug AV
Iperf is used for generating any type of traffic between a client and a server. For
our test, illustrated in Figure 8.20, we use the following components:
An IBM R50e computer running under Windows XP SP2;
A DELL Latitude D600 computer running under FreeBSD 5.4;
Two PLC modems complying with the same technology (HomePlug 1.0,
Turbo, AV, and Spidcom 200) for each computer;
Two category 5 shielded FTP Ethernet cables;
A standard four-outlet power strip.
The client (, the server (, and the access point
( must be configured so as to have the same network address; failing
this, no communication can take place.
The test consists of generating a 100-Mb TCP traffic and in verifying the associated useful throughput according to the crossed network or to the mechanisms used.
Each value corresponds to the mean of three tests to ensure reliability by excluding
too high an oscillation.
In the server, all you have to do is to enter iperf −s in a MS-DOS window to initiate the server. On the client side, the TCP transmission of 100 Mb is initiated by
entering iperf −c −n 100000000 in a MS-DOS window.
Figure 8.20
Test configuration
Network Data Rates
Table 8.10 shows the results obtained for various technologies with this test bed.
Table 8.11 summarizes the necessary data rates for certain usual Internet applications (data, voice, or video applications).
Data Rate Variation
In a PLC network, the constraints related to the electrical interface can result in a
variation of the data rate provided by the network. As previously explained, interference originating from the electrical devices and the multiplication of PLC devices
on the electrical network are some examples that can cause data rate variations.
The PLC data rate varies automatically as soon as interference occurs in the
environment. This is a user-transparent mechanism. So, the HomePlug 1.0 data rate
changes from 14.1 Mbit/s to 12.83, 10.16, 8.36, 6.35, 4.04, 2.67, and even to 0.9
Mbit/s when the environment is highly degraded.
A different data rate can be given to any of the network’s stations with the automatic data rate variation scheme.
Figure 8.21 illustrates the variation of the theoretical data rate and of the useful
throughput following measurements performed during tests with the Iperf tool.
When the network is comprised of several stations, we have seen that the data
rate for each station corresponds to the maximum useful throughput divided by the
number of stations. However, we have considered that the waiting time is equal to
the transmission time for a given station considering that the transmission speed is
equal for all stations.
Table 8.10
Maximum Actual Data Rates of PLC Technologies
HomePlug 1.0 (14 Mbit/s)
4.35 Mbit/s
HomePlug Turbo (85 Mbit/s) 40
11.5 Mbit/s
HomePlug AV (200 Mbit/s)
60.5 Mbit/s
DS2 (200 Mbit/s)
61.2 Mbit/s
Table 8.11 Necessary Data Rates for
Typical Internet Applications
Surf over Internet
and e-mail:
50 Kbit/s
5 Kbit/s
Voice over IP
80 Kbit/s
Streaming audio:
80 Kbit/s
14 Kbit/s
SDTV video channel
1.5 Mbit/s
HDTV video channel 8 Mbit/s
Figure 8.21
Theoretical data rate and useful throughput variation with the HomePlug 1.0
In the case of all the stations’ different speeds, the waiting time is prolonged.
Because of this, the global network data rate falls heavily. If a station of the network
transmits at a speed of 1 Mbit/s, its transmission time is 14 times higher than that of
a station transmitting at 14 Mbit/s. Therefore, this station must wait 14 times longer
before transmitting its data. Its average useful throughput tends to be around
1 Mbit/s.
Figure 8.22 illustrates the likelihood of data collision over the electrical network
according to the number of connected live PLC devices.
Unlike Wi-Fi networks, PLC networks provide top class security insofar as the
medium cannot be accessed (electrical wirings buried in the walls or in packages)
and is also not dangerous.
Therefore, security is achieved from the moment the user implements a satisfactory password configuration on its PLC network. We detail this configuration in the
following chapters dedicated to the implementation of a PLC local area network.
Figure 8.22
Likelihood of collisions according to the number of PLC modems on the electrical
The installation of a PLC network is rather simple. All you have to do is connect the
PLC devices to an Ethernet network or to a modem (ADSL, cable, STN, and so
forth) while taking into account the constraints mentioned in the previous chapter.
The configuration of the network PLC devices and the terminal interfaces (generally PC network interface cards) connected to PLC devices follows the network
installation. The configuration of the PLC devices and of the Ethernet boards of the
connected terminals are detailed in this chapter. The various functionalities provided by these devices according to the targeted use (domestic, professional, or
industrial) are also detailed.
The configuration of the terminal (PC) concerns the installation and the software configuration of the network interface card, whether this is an external,
Ethernet or USB card. The board installation differs depending on the operating system used. Its configuration is almost similar from one system to another since it is
based on the parameters of the PLC technology used (HomePlug, DS2, and so
The following sections describe the parameters to be configured according to
the main existing PLC technologies, even though the HomePlug specification is now
the de facto PLC standard, considering its prevalence on the PLC device market.
Once the network interface card is configured, the terminal is still not quite
ready to communicate with the network. It is still necessary to assign suitable network parameters, such as IP address, mask, and so forth to it in order to set up communication.
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 or Turbo Network
Configuring a PLC network with HomePlug version 1.0 Turbo devices is relatively
simple, insofar as all the network devices have the same hierarchical function with
the network in peer-to-peer mode. For HomePlug AV devices, the network mode
used is a mode in which one of the devices is the central coordinator (CCo) and the
other is stations (STA). However, this is transparent to the end user who configures
all the HomePlug AV devices on the electrical network in the same way.
Devices on the market based on the HomePlug specification are configured in
the same manner and are compatible between themselves. Various tools are used for
configuring them according to the targeted operating systems. They are described
for Windows XP as well as for the Linux and FreeBSD systems.
Configuring a PLC Network Under Windows
Almost all the tools used for configuring HomePlug PLC devices have the same
functionalities for the configuration of HomePlug chip parameters. As we have seen
in Chapter 7, HomePlug chips mainly originate from the Intellon manufacturer.
They are used for reading a number of values stored on the quality of exchanges
between PLC devices. The PLC network is configured and optimized using these values.
Among the HomePlug parameters that can be configured, let’s mention the following ones in particular:
The NEK (network encryption key) used for securing data exchanges in the
same PLC local area network;
The DEK (default encryption key) used for configuring the NEK on all the
remote PLC devices scattered over the electrical network;
The PLC device transmission priority among four possible ones (CA0, CA1,
CA2, CA3) used for configuring some PLC devices like gateways to other networks, in particular Ethernet.
Table 9.1 summarizes the main parameters which can be read and presented to
the PLC network user with HomePlug configuration tools.
Estimating the PHY Data Rate of Communications Between PLC Devices
The various PLC devices store the instantaneous value of the “bytes in 40 symbols” parameters exchanged by the devices in the HomePlug chip. This value is used for estimating
the PHY data rate (at the physical layer level) between PLC devices, as we have seen in
Chapter 3.
The maximum PHY data rate corresponds to the number of data (or bits) ensuring the
best possible modulation coded with 40-symbol OFDM blocks of duration 8.4 μs.
This gives, for HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo:
HomePlug 1.0:
Datarate PHMAXY =
519 × 8
= 12,35714286 Mbit/s
40 × 8.4
HomePlug Turbo:
Datarate PHMAX =
2,812 × 8
= 66 ,95238095 Mbit/s
40 × 8.4
Still using the data mentioned in Chapter 3, the PHY data rate can be calculated
according to the values given by the HomePlug chip:
HomePlug 1.0:
Datarate PHY =
588 − 38 BYTES in 40symbols ⎛
588 − 38 519 ⎞
+ ⎜14 −
⎟ Mbit/s
42 ⎠
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 or Turbo Network
Table 9.1 HomePlug Parameters Visible by Configuration Tools
Bytes per 40 symbols
Number of bytes per block with 40 OFDM symbols (used for
calculating the estimated PHY data rate for HomePlug 1.0)
Bytes per 336 us Block
(for HomePlug Turbo)
Number of bytes per 336-ìs block (used for calculating the
estimated PHY data rate for HomePlug 1.1 Turbo, sometimes
called Viper)
Transmitted data number counter
FAILS Received
Number of received FAIL type frames
Frame Drops
Number of lost frames
ACK Counter
Number of sent ACK type frames
NACK Counter
Number of sent NACK type frames
FAIL Counter
Number of sent FAIL type frames
Contention Loss Counter
Number of lost contention frames
CA0 Latency Counter
Total number of milliseconds between receipt of a CA0 frame
sending request and successful access to transmission channel
CA1 Latency Counter
Total number of milliseconds between receipt of a CA1 frame
sending request and successful access to transmission channel
CA2 Latency Counter
Total number of milliseconds between receipt of a CA2 frame
sending request and successful access to transmission channel
CA3 Latency Counter
Total number of milliseconds between receipt of a CA3 frame
sending request and successful access to transmission channel
Cumul Bytes per 40 Symbols
Cumulated received frames in number of 40 OFDM symbols
Packet Counter
MAC Address
MAC addresses of other PLC devices on the same network
HomePlug Turbo:
Datarate PHY =
BYTES per 336 μsblock × 8
40 × 8.4
where Bytesper336 sblock represents the number of bytes in a data block at the physical layer level
of duration 336 μs.
As we have seen in Chapter 8, there is a difference between the physical data
rate and the useful throughput for the user. Table 9.2 gives an estimated correspondence between these two data rates since HomePlug PLC configuration tools only
indicate the physical data rate for the user.
Among the various HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo PLC configuration tools, let’s
mention the following tools that differ in their interfaces and user friendliness:
MicroLink dLAN from MicroLink Informer from Devolo AG. The first one
is used for configuring the PLC network and the second one for checking the
network status.
PowerPacket Utility from Intellon. This enables the same parameterizations
as the Devolo tool using various tabs for the various configuration operations
(NEK of the PLC logical network illustrated by Figure 9.1, main tab for man-
Table 9.2 Correspondence Between Indicated Physical Data
Rate and Useful Throughput
BIT RATE (Mbit/s) (Mbit/s)
HomePlug 1.0
HomePlug Turbo
Figure 9.1
4.5 to 5
0.9 (ROBO mode)
Encryption key configuration for HomePlug devices
agement of the PLC network, Figure 9.2, management of priority levels for
each VLAN illustrated by Figure 9.3).
SoftPlug from LEA-Thesys (
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 or Turbo Network
Figure 9.2
PowerPacket configuration utility from Intellon in main tab
Figure 9.3
Configuration of priority levels for each VLAN in HomePlug
This tool provides the same functionalities as the previous tools but with an
interface which is perhaps easier to use.
Most PLC modems have Ethernet interfaces. However, some of them provide
USB interfaces used for emulating a “virtual” Ethernet interface which will be
viewed as a new network interface by the connecting terminal.
Since the behavior of virtual network interfaces on the USB interface proves to
be unstable, it is recommended to equip PLC devices with an Ethernet interface and
an RJ-45 connector.
Configuring an Ethernet or USB PLC Device
For this example relating to the configuration of a PLC device, we have selected the
Intellon Power Packet Utility configuration tool.
Once the tool is downloaded, we can proceed with the installation. Once the
installation is completed, the Power Packet Utility program can be started (via Start,
Programs). The program proposes several tabs corresponding to the various available functionalities as illustrated by Figure 9.4.
To build a secure PLC local area network, it is necessary to start with the configuration of the NEK for the various devices to be connected to the network.
In the Security tab, start with the entry of a 4-to-24-character name in the Private network name field. This name is equivalent to the password of the NEK common to all PLC network devices. The default value is HomePlug.
Any PLC device complying with the HomePlug standard bought in stores can be
connected to a PLC network for which the NEK password default value was kept.
Insofar as the signal propagates beyond the electrical meter of the house, anybody
can connect to this private local area network. This is why it is very important for
PLC network security purposes to change this default value. Figure 9.5 shows the
default password.
Figure 9.4
Products tab of PLC configuration tool
Figure 9.5
Security tab of PLC configuration tool
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 or Turbo Network
In Figure 9.6, the NEK password has been replaced with the PLC Network
value. The longer this password is, and the more numbers and symbols it has, the
harder it is to crack for an intruder looking to access the PLC network.
All the PLC devices connected to the electrical network can be configured from
this configuration interface, whether these already exist in the PLC local area network or not. All you have to do is know the DEK of the remote devices connected to
the electrical network.
The DEK is unique for each PLC device and its ID is indicated at the back of the
device. It can be called SecureID (Devolo), Password (Corinex and Oxance), Mot de
passe (LEA), and so forth. This key is encoded in 16 bytes in the hexadecimal format.
In Figure 9.7, the value of the DEK is JJMZ-QFDI-RVHE-OJRS above the
MAC address of the PLC device to be configured. The DEK is secured.
If you know the value of the DEK, just click on the Add Products tab and enter
this value in the Password field. The Adapter name field is used in order to identify
the PLC device (living room or bedroom, for example).
Figure 9.6
PLC local area network password configuration
Figure 9.7
Reading the DEK key on the box of a PLC device
Figure 9.8 illustrates the configuration of a PLC local area network using DEK
read on the living room and bedroom devices connected to the same electrical network.
Once all the network PLC devices are configured locally or using the DEK key,
simply select the Products tab to check the status of the PLC links between the device
to which the PC is connected and other PLC devices connected to the electrical network (see Figure 9.9):
The “Product(s) connected to your PC” window indicates the PLC device or
devices with direct Ethernet connection to the configuration PC via the PC network interface card and its MAC address.
The “Product(s) sensed” window lists the PLC devices sensed on the electrical
network that have the same NEK and indicates their estimated data rate.
The products in the list can be renamed by clicking on rename and indicating a
relevant name to retrieve the PLC device in the electrical network architecture. The
PLC devices were renamed living room and bedroom in Figure 9.9.
Coexistence of Several HomePlug PLC Local Area Networks on the Same
Electrical Network
Several NEK cannot be configured on the same HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo PLC device.
Therefore, a device cannot belong to several PLC local area networks. Within the framework of the HomePlug AV specification, it will be possible to have several encryption keys
on the same PLC device and therefore to have devices belonging to several PLC local area
Figure 9.8
PLC network configuration using the DEK
Configuring a HomePlug AV Network
Figure 9.9
PLC network status diagnostic function
networks. It is possible to have several PLC local area networks on the same electrical network. These PLC local area networks just have to share the frequency band (from 1 to 30
MHz) and divide their transmission speed by the number of existing PLC local area networks.
Since the PLC network configuration is now completed, the IP network and the
suitable applications can be configured for the users of the Ethernet network consisting of the PLC network. This IP network configuration is detailed in Chapter 10.
By clicking on the “Diagnostics” tab, system information can be displayed on
the PC and PLC device directly connected to the PC using Ethernet as well as histories on PLC products previously sensed by the configuration tool.
Figure 9.9 illustrates this tab for the bedroom device corresponding to the PLC
network (PLCNetworks) with the date and time of the last display of this device.
Just click on “Print” to save or send these histories to other PLC network installers.
Configuring a HomePlug AV Network
Concerning the HomePlug AV standard, there are several standard implementations based on specifications with two chips manufactured by Intellon with the integrated 1.0 and 1.1 firmware versions.
Table 9.3 indicates the functionality differences between the versions based on
the INT6000 and INT6300 Intellon chips.
For easier configuration of a PLC network for end users able to broadcast PLC
technologies by ISP in order to broadcast HDTV flows from IPTV offers in a home
environment, there are two PLC network configuration modes:
Configuration using an embedded user interface on a PC or a gateway for
Internet access (in general, via the Web interface of this gateway).
Configuration using the EasyConnect mode used for easily implementing a
HomePlug AV PLC network. This mode consists of using the connection buttons installed on HomePlug AV PLC devices fitted with the INT6300 chip. To
configure a new network, the button of the first device must first be depressed
Table 9.3 Various Chip and Firmware Versions for HomePlug AV Standard
INT6000 INT6300
128-bit encryption
Provides security to the powerline network
CSMA/CA Channel
Provides reliable network connection
CCO Failover
Controls redundancy of powerline connection
Provides better user experience on video streaming, VoIP,
online gaming
Rotate NEK encryption Yes
Provides a highly secured powerline network
Provides an efficient network connection
Signal Strength LED
Serves as an excellent tool for powerline network site survey
One button encryption
User-friendly encryption set up
Provides user-friendly reset when deploying the network
in house
Factory default reset
for 2 seconds. The power on indicator light of the package then blinks. The
user then has 1 minute to depress the EasyConnect buttons of the other devices
he wants to include into his logical PLC network. The buttons of the other
devices must also be depressed for 2 seconds to associate them with the first
device. Once the devices are associated, the PLC activity lights are fixed on the
various network stations; the PLC network is then configured. Figure 9.10
illustrates the principle for associating new stations with the PLC network
using the EasyConnect mode.
Concerning the tools for configuring a HomePlug AV PLC network, several are
available for managing the notions of encryption keys and priorities of the various
devices with various user interfaces depending on the manufacturers. Some of these
are mentioned below:
AZtech HomePlug AV Utility (downloadable at the following address:
Zyxel PLA PLA tool (downloadable at the following address:
Devolo dLAN Software (downloadable at the following address: http://download.devolo.net/webcms/0155878001190908944/dlan-software-v17.exe)
Linksys PLE 200 Utility (downloadable at the following address:
AsokaUSA PowerManager (downloadable at the following address:
Configuring a HomePlug AV Network
Figure 9.10
HomePlug AV PLC device association principle with the EasyConnect mode
As a configuration example, we are going to use the tool developed by
AsokaUSA for its easy implementation and its user-friendly user interface. Once the
Power Manager tool is started, it offers a choice of network interfaces which will be
used by the program as illustrated in Figure 9.11.
The installation program then starts with the installation of the driver required
for good operation of the frames sent to the PLC devices as illustrated in Figure
Once the installation program is started, it carries out several steps until the
installation of the Power Manager PLC tool is completed (see complete Figure
Once the installation is completed, the Power Manager tool prompts to rename
the PLC device to which the installation PC is connected (see Figure 9.14) and to
Figure 9.11
Network interface choice
Figure 9.12
PLC tool module installation choice
Figure 9.13
PLC tool installation progress
assign a device name to it that will be used for easily retrieving the identity of this
device in the PLC logical network supervision.
At that level, the NEK used for all the PLC devices of the logical PLC network
we want to configure can then be configured. Here, as illustrated in Figure 9.15, we
use the HomePlug123 NEK.
The PLC tool main interface then opens with various possible icons for managing the device profiles, the devices existing on the logical network, the updating of
firmware versions, and statistics of PLC links between devices as illustrated in Figure
In the “Devices” tab, it is then possible simply to view the configured device or
devices and to indicate new parameters to them, like their name or NEK, as illustrated in Figure 9.17.
The NEK can also be indicated on a remote device on the electrical network
using the DEK in the case of the PLC remote device as indicated in Figure 9.18.
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 PLC Network Under Linux
Figure 9.14
Renaming of local PLC device connected to the configuration PC
Figure 9.15
NEK configuration for PLC logical network
With all the functionalities of the Power Manager tool, it is then possible to
install, configure, and supervise a HomePlug AV network easily by following the
installation rules previously stated in Chapters 7 and 8.
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 PLC Network Under Linux
In the same manner as under Windows, installing a PLC network under Linux consists in connecting the network interface card of the PC to one of the PLC devices of
the electrical network and in using a PLC configuration tool for Linux.
In the case of a PLC device with a USB interface, the driver of the Ethernet USB
virtual interface must be installed. For this purpose, it is necessary to recover the
record containing this driver by downloading it at the following address (for a
Devolo device):
Figure 9.16
Power Manager tool main tab
Figure 9.17
Power Manager tool “Devices” tab
Figure 9.19 illustrates the page of the Devolo site offering PLC configuration
tools for dLAN duo devices.
Just click on the Driver Linux link to download it, then save the file at a location
on the disk when the downloading window illustrated in Figure 9.20 is displayed.
In our example, we save the file under:
Once the file is downloaded, it must be decompressed twice with the following
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 PLC Network Under Linux
Figure 9.18
DEK key configuration for a remote device
Figure 9.19
Homepage for Devolo dLAN duo device configuration tools
carcelle@debian:~/Projects/CPL$gunzip dLAN-linux-package-2.0.tar.gz
carcelle@debian:~/Projects/CPL$gunzip dLAN-linux-package-2.0.tar.gz
Figure 9.20
Linux PLC tool downloading window
The USB PLC device must then be connected to an available port of the PC and
the device recognition must be verified by running the following command:
The dmesg command gives the output illustrated in Figure 9.21.
The directory in which the PLC tool was decompressed must be opened to install
the driver downloaded in this way:
carcelle@debian:~/Projects/CPL$cd dLAN-linux-package-2.0/driver/
Figure 9.22 illustrates the files contained in this directory.
From that moment, it is necessary to switch over to super user (root) mode and
then run the install.boot.sh installation command shown in Figure 9.23.
Figure 9.21
Dmesg command output
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 PLC Network Under Linux
Figure 9.22
Contents of USB PLC device driver directory
To compile the USB driver, the next make usbdriver command must then be run
(see Figure 9.24):
Once the compilation is completed, the next command, illustrated in Figure
9.25, is used for installing the driver at the suitable disk locations (see Figure 9.26):
Lastly, the next command:
Figure 9.23
Running the installation command
Figure 9.24
Running the make usbdriver command
Figure 9.25
Running the make install-usbdriver command
enables the USB driver to be loaded when starting up.
Simply reboot the computer to validate all the commands.
Once rebooting is completed, the device must still be connected to the USB port
in order to make sure that the new USB Ethernet virtual board is installed as illustrated in Figure 9.27.
The dlanusb0 board is actually installed. We can start installing the configuration utility.
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 PLC Network Under Linux
Figure 9.26
Running the make install-boot command
Figure 9.27
Making sure that the Ethernet/USB virtual board is installed
Since the configuration tool under Linux has been decompressed in the same
directory as the USB driver, it must first of all be placed it in the correct directory:
We can start by configuring the compilation parameters as illustrated in Figure
The compilation of the PLC configuration tool can be started using the make
command as illustrated in Figure 9.29.
Once the compilation has been completed, the compiled files must be installed in
the correct disk locations using the make install command.
The configuration tool can then be run with the Ethernet/USB virtual board or
with the Ethernet board connected to a USB PLC or Ethernet device using the following command (see Figure 9.30):
dlanconfig eth0
The tool can be run on the eth0 or dlanusb0 interface. Figure 9.31 illustrates the
sensing of PLC devices connected to the PLC network performed by the configuration tool.
In this example, the sensed PLC device corresponds to the HomePlug 1.0 specification since its estimated physical data rate is around 12.829 Mbit/s.
A menu with the four following functionalities is proposed by the configuration
Figure 9.28
Configuring the compilation parameters
Configuring a HomePlug 1.0 PLC Network Under Linux
Figure 9.29
Compiling the PLC configuration tool
Figure 9.30
Installing the PLC configuration tool
“set local network password,” used for configuring the PLC network key
(NEK) on the PLC device or devices directly connected to the configuration
PC using Ethernet;
Figure 9.31
Sensing of an Ethernet PLC device using the Linux PLC configuration tool
“set remote network password,” used for configuring the PLC network key on
remote PLC devices connected to the electrical network (DEK);
“list remote devices,” which is used for listing the PLC devices connected to
the PLC network and configured with the same PLC network key;
“exit,” used for exiting the configuration tool.
Configuring a HomePlug AV PLC Network Under Linux
Concerning HomePlug AV PLC devices, there are not many tools under Linux
adapted to usual network environments for 802.11, BlueTooth, and 802.16 (soon)
network technologies. However, there is an integrated PLC tool in the form of a
library and package to distribute the available Debian (.deb packet) and RedHat
(.rpm packet) packages:
FAIFA (Developed by Florian Fainelli, Nicolas Thill, and Xavier Carcelle)
which is available at the project address: http://open-plc.org/
The http://open-plc.org/ site groups a certain amount of information on
PLC technologies and compatibilities between devices and firmware for the
HomePlug AV standard.
The FAIFA tool can be downloaded from the following addresses.
The installation can be done in different ways:
Compilation of the project sources under a Linux distribution used by the user
from the tarball available at the following address:
Configuring a HomePlug AV PLC Network Under Linux
after performing a check-out on the development repository using the following command:
#svn co http://svn.open-plc.org/
Installation of the Debian faifa.deb package from the debian.open-plc.org
repository by adding this line in the /etc/apt/sources.list file:
Installation of the RedHat faifa.rpm package from the following link:
Once the FAIFA tool is compiled and installed, it enables access to the functions useful for the configuration:
• Configuration of NEK keys on the logical network PLC devices;
• Discovery of the devices existing on this logical network;
• Statistics retrieval for links between PLC devices.
When the user starts FAIFA with the command line below:
#./faifa –i eth0 –m
Where the option
• −i: indicates the network interface to be used for accessing the PLC network;
−m: tells FAIFA to display the menu.
When the FAIFA menu is started up, it displays the menu below:
Faifa for HomePlug AV
Started receive thread
Supported HomePlug AV frames
----------Get Device/SW Version Request
Get Link Statistics Request
Network Info Request (Vendor-Specific)
Set Encryption Key Request
Get Manufacturing String Request
Supported HomePlug 1.0 frames
----------Channel Estimation Request
Set Network Encryption Key Request
Parameters and Statistics Request
Set Local parameters Request
Set Local Overrides Request
Choose the frame type (Ctrl-C to exit):
One of the options among the two submenus for the HomePlug AV and
1.0/Turbo standards can then be chosen. When the user chooses the 0xA000
option, he or she obtains the information on the firmware versions available on the
Intellon chip as illustrated below:
Choose the frame type (Ctrl-C to exit): 0xa000
Frame: Get Device/SW Version Request
Binary Data, 60 bytes
00000000: 00 B0 52 00 00 01 00 00 00
00000016: A0 00 B0 52 00 00 00 00 00
00000032: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00000048: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 88 E1 00 00
00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00
Frame: Get Device/SW Version Confirm (A001), HomePlug-AV Version:
Status: Success
Device ID: INT6300, Version: INT6000-MAC-3-1-3103-1662-20070915FINAL-B, upgradeable: 0
Binary Data, 156 bytes
00000000: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 0C B9 08 47 0F 88 E1 00 01
00000016: A0 00 B0 52 00 02 2A 49 4E 54 36 30 30 30 2D 4D
00000032: 41 43 2D 33 2D 31 2D 33 31 30 33 2D 31 36 36 32
00000048: 2D 32 30 30 37 30 39 31 35 2D 46 49 4E 41 4C 2D
00000064: 42 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00000080: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00000096: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00000112: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00000128: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00000144: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
When the user chooses the 0xA038 option, the FAIFA program sends back
information on the other devices existing on the logical PLC network as well as a
number of statistics in the HomePlug AV standard as illustrated below:
Choose the frame type (Ctrl-C to exit): 0xa038
Frame: Network Info Request
Binary Data, 60 bytes
00000000: 00 B0 52 00 00 01
00000016: A0 00 B0 52 00 00
00000032: 00 00 00 00 00 00
00000048: 00 00 00 00 00 00
(Vendor-Specific) (0xA038)
00 88 E1 00 38
00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00
Frame: Network Info Confirm (Vendor-Specific)
Version: 1.0
Network ID (NID): B0 F2 E6 95 66 6B 03
Short Network ID (SNID): 0x0e
STA TEI: 0x01
STA Role: Station
CCo TEI: 0x03
Stations: 1
Station MAC
TEI Bridge MAC
------------- ----------00:0C:B9:08:47:10 0x03 FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF 0x00
Binary Data, 60 bytes
(A039), HomePlug-AV
Configuring a HomePlug AV PLC Network Under Linux
0F 88 E1 00 39
03 0E 01 00 00
47 10 03 FF FF
Finally, the 0xA054 option is used for obtaining information on the PLC device
manufacturer and a number of statistics on the PLC logical links between the network devices.
Choose the frame type (Ctrl-C to exit): 0xa054
Frame: Get Manufacturing
Binary Data, 60 bytes
00000000: 00 B0 52 00 00
00000016: A0 00 B0 52 00
00000032: 00 00 00 00 00
00000048: 00 00 00 00 00
String Request (0xA054)
00 88 E1 00 54
00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00
Frame: Get Manufacturing String Confirm (A055), HomePlug-AV
Version: 1.0
Status: Success
Length: 64 (0x40)
Manufacturer string: Intellon HomePlug AV Device
Binary Data, 86 bytes
00000000: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 0C B9 08 47 0F 88 E1 00 55
00000016: A0 00 B0 52 00 40 49 6E 74 65 6C 6C 6F 6E 20 48
00000032: 6F 6D 65 50 6C 75 67 20 41 56 20 44 65 76 69 63
00000048: 65 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00000064: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00000080: 00 00 00 00 00 00
Frame: Get Link Statistics Confirm (A031), HomePlug-AV
Version: 1.0
Status: Success
Link ID: fc
TEI: 00
Direction: Tx
MPDU acked......................: 1249
MPDU collisions.................: 271
MPDU failures...................: 0
PB transmitted successfully.....: 1628
PB transmitted unsuccessfully...: 0
Direction: Rx
MPDU acked......................: 886
MPDU failures...................: 0
PB received successfully........: 1539
PB received unsuccessfully......: 0
Turbo Bit Errors passed.........: 241
Turbo Bit Errors failed.........: 0
-- Rx interval 0 -Rx PHY rate.....................: 93
PB received successfully........: 17
PB received failed..............: 0
TBE errors over successfully....: 26
TBE errors over failed..........: 0
-- Rx interval 1 -Rx PHY rate.....................: 93
PB received successfully........: 15
PB received failed..............:
TBE errors over successfully....:
TBE errors over failed..........:
-- Rx interval 2 -Rx PHY rate.....................:
PB received successfully........:
PB received failed..............:
TBE errors over successfully....:
TBE errors over failed..........:
-- Rx interval 3 -Rx PHY rate.....................:
PB received successfully........:
PB received failed..............:
TBE errors over successfully....:
TBE errors over failed..........:
-- Rx interval 4 -Rx PHY rate.....................:
PB received successfully........:
PB received failed..............:
TBE errors over successfully....:
TBE errors over failed..........:
-- Rx interval 5 -Rx PHY rate.....................:
PB received successfully........:
PB received failed..............:
TBE errors over successfully....:
TBE errors over failed..........:
Configuring a PLC Network Under FreeBSD
The FreeBSD operating system does not provide many tools for configuring PLC
networks. We are going to detail the plconfig program, which is one of the only programs currently available for this type of platform.
FreeBSD is an operating system similar to Linux, originating from work on Unix
kernels carried out within Berkeley University in California. Although there are few
differences compared to Linux distributions, developments carried out on a
FreeBSD platform slightly differ.
The FreeBSD operating system is mainly used by security, Web, and mail servers. FreeBSD uses a packets system, called “ports,” representing programs that can
be used under this operating system. This ports system is managed by a group of
developers distributed worldwide ensuring its integrity. The number of these developers is much less important than for Linux, which makes FreeBSD both more stable and more homogeneous.
Let us first download Manuel Kasper’s tool, plconfig, at the following address:
On a console in super user mode, we decompress the tool installation program,
then start the installation using the make command.
The program displays a help menu if no network interface or option is indicated
as a parameter for the plconfig command:
#tar xfvz plconfig-0.2.tar.gz; cd plconfig-0.2
Configuring an HD-PLC Network
Powerline Bridge config version 0.2 by Manuel Kasper
plconfig [-pqrh] [-b device] [-s key] interface
-s key
preceded by 0x)
-b device
set network encryption key
(plaintext password or 8 hex bytes
use device (default is /dev/bpf0)
don’t switch interface to promiscuous
request parameters and statistics
request Intellon-specific network
display this help
If -s is not specified, plconfig will listen for
management packets indefinitely (after requesting stats if -r is
As indicated in this help menu, the following PLC network functionalities are
proposed by the program:
−s: used for configuring the NEK on devices locally connected to the configuration PC using Ethernet.
−r: used for interrogating the HomePlug chip of the locally connected PLC
device and retrieving a number of parameters and statistics. This option is also
used for displaying the electrical network PLC devices that are correctly configured.
−q: used for interrogating the PLC chip and retrieving values and statistics
specific to the manufacturer of Intellon chips.
As we can see, the program is not as complete as tools under Windows or Linux
but nonetheless offers the main functionalities required to configure a PLC network
(network key configuration and status of the PLC links at a physical level).
Configuring an HD-PLC Network
The HD-PLC standard was developed by Panasonic, which markets HD-PLC
devices mainly in Japan under the BL-PA300 (PL-HNC-006) P/N reference running
on 110V/50 to 60 Hz. The HD-PLC standard operates in network mode of the master-slave type with a network device in master mode (configured using a button on
the device) and the other devices in slave mode (also configured using a button on
the devices). The embedded software on HD-PLC devices (based on an
ARM926-EJS hardware architecture and a μITRON OS, with a PX-PRP1A9-4 reference) has three main components:
The IP stack and HTTPD: The devices are configured using an embedded
WEB interface on HD-PLC devices.
The DataLink stack: Used for managing the PLC interface, the ETHERNET
interface, and the SERIAL interface.
The Tasks Communications stack: Used with mails and events for tasks communication, interrupt handlers, and buffers for exchanging information with
the hardware interface.
Configuring a DS2 Network
The Spanish manufacturer DS2 is a player on the HomePlug market whose products
are not compatible with HomePlug devices.
A DS2 200-Mbit/s PLC network is locally configured on the device via an HTTP
interface. Therefore, it is identical for Windows and for Linux/FreeBSD.
The DS2 devices can operate in three different network modes:
HE: The device is the PLC network master.
CPE: The device is the PLC network slave.
TDREP: The device is used as the PLC network repeater.
We will illustrate this section with Corinex AV PLC devices based on DS2 Wisconsin chips. There are two firmware types in these devices: alma and spirit. We
have chosen a device with alma firmware, which offers more functionalities.
Before connecting to the HTTP interface, the PLC device and the configuration
PC must be placed in the same IP addressing plane. Since the default IP address of
Corinex AV PLC devices is, the IP address of the configuration PC must
be configured in the same addressing plane, for example,
Figure 9.32 illustrates the various addressing planes that will coexist on the electrical network.
Once you are connected to the homepage, enter the default password (paterna)
to open the configuration pages as illustrated in Figure 9.33.
The first configuration page offers an overview of the main parameters of a DS2
PLC device (see Figure 9.34), in particular the following ones:
IP address of the PLC device;
MAC network mode (HE, CPE, TDREP) of the PLC device;
PLC physical link mode;
Multicast groups at the IP layer level;
Key (or password) used for securing the PLC network;
Priorities of some data flows between PLC devices.
These parameters can be configured separately then validated and written into
the computer’s nonvolatile memory. The modifications made to the overall configuration are taken into account by rebooting the device.
The IP address, the subnet mask, and the default gateway of the device can be
configured by clicking on “Change configuration” below “Default Gateway IP
Address.” The configuration page illustrated in Figure 9.35 is then displayed.
In the example of Figure 9.36, the addresses of the PLC1, PLC2, and PLC3
devices are,, and, respectively, and the subnet mask is
Configuring a DS2 Network
Figure 9.32
Addressing planes of a DS2 PLC network
Figure 9.33
DS2 configuration HTTP tool homepage
Figure 9.34
DS2 PLC device configuration parameters
Figure 9.35
DS2 PLC device MAC and network parameters configuration
Configuring a DS2 Network
placed at In this case, the default gateway is not important since the
configuration PC has an address in the same addressing plane (
Once these network parameters are configured, it is important to configure the
network mode for each PLC device.
As illustrated by Figure 9.36, the device closest to the circuit breaker panel is in
master (HE) mode; the other devices are in slave (CPE) or repeater (TDREP) mode.
The repeater mode is used for reaching devices that cannot be easily connected due
to the length of the electrical wiring or to other electrical environment constraints
the building may have.
This configuration is performed in the Access configuration section of the MAC
configuration window pane by selecting Node Mode. A window then prompts you
to choose among the three possible modes.
Groups of multicast IP type can be created with DS2 PLC devices and IP frames
are sent from a source device to several destination devices belonging to the
multicast group. To implement groups of “multicast” IPs, it is important to have
good knowledge of the configuration techniques for IP networks (see end of chapter).
One of the essential parameters of any type of PLC networks is the network key,
called “password” in the DS2 configuration tool; it is used for creating private PLC
networks and securing data frame exchanges between network components
(devices and terminals connected to the PLC network). This is done in the “Security
Configuration” section (see Figure 9.37) by entering the new password of the PLC
network specific to this network. This parameter is the equivalent of the NEK for
HomePlug PLC networks.
Figure 9.36
DS2 PLC device network mode configuration
The priority of each of the network PLC devices can then be configured by setting the “Default priority” parameter of the “Priority configuration” section from 1
to 5 according to the network topology and the function of each device.
For example, based on the topology of Figure 9.37, the device in master mode
can be configured with a “higher” priority level (value 1), and some PLC devices in
CPE mode with an “average” priority level (value 2) if the connected terminals have
real-time applications. The other devices can be configured with a “low” priority
level (value 3 or 4).
Figure 9.38 illustrates the HTML page, which gives access to the PLC network
security configuration parameters (password to access the configuration interface,
PLC network ID, password for plant resetting) and the parameters for configuring
the priorities of each device on the PLC network, especially the “Default priority”
The DS2 PLC network can also be configured by using a Telnet console on port
40000 with the following command:
C:\>telnet adresseIP_equipement_CPL 40000
adresseIP_equipement_CPL is the IP address of the PLC device that we want
to configure and that is connected to the configuration PC via the Ethernet interface.
The configuration via the Telnet console gives access to advanced
functionalities, such as the PLC device temperature, the notching of some frequency
bands, the bridge function, roaming between PLC networks, and so forth.
Figure 9.37
Configuration of PHY, multicast, and security parameters for a DS2 PLC device
Configuring Network Parameters
Figure 9.38
Configuration of priority and security parameters for a DS2 PLC device
Configuring Network Parameters
To complete the configuration of a PLC network, it is still necessary to assign the
correct network parameters to each device, including the configuration of the IP
address, of the subnet mask, of the default gateway address, and of the DNS
Before tackling these actual configuration steps, the following sections provide
a reminder of a few essential notions on managing network configurations such as
IP addresses, subnet mask, and DNS.
Review of Network Parameters
Managing communication in a network is governed by a high number of
functionalities related to the standards used. One of them, the Internet Protocol (IP),
defines how to communicate with an addressing system and particular routing
IP Addresses
Each computer connected to a local area network or to the Internet uses the combination of two protocols, TCP (or UDP) and IP, better known as TCP/IP or UDP/IP.
To communicate, each computer has a single IP address. IP addresses are of the
x.x.x.x form, where x corresponds to a number between 0 and 255.
There are two versions of the IP protocol: IPv4 and IPv6. The IPv4 address,
which is most frequently used nowadays, is on 4 bytes and only limited
functionalities are available, mainly centered on routing. IPv6 is an evolution of
IPv4 which is scarcely implemented in networks. Its address is on 16 bytes, and it
includes many functionalities, such as mobility, quality of service, and security management.
Structure of an IPv4 Address
The IPv4 address is on 4 bytes, i.e., 32 bits (1 byte is equivalent to 8 bits).
There are two parts in each IP address:
The network address;
A host number corresponding to the address of the computer itself.
Let us imagine a network consisting of three computers, the addresses of which
are,, and respectively. In this case, the network address is 145.41.12.x, 1, 2, and 3 corresponding to the host addresses of the
With such an addressing plan, the network can connect computers with
addresses between and is a reserved
address, called “broadcast address,” which is used for sending information to all the
stations of the network. Such an addressing plan offers few possibilities in terms of
network connectivity, since it only addresses 254 potential computers.
Depending on the size of the network address, the number of networks and
therefore the number of associated hosts can be different. Address classes have been
defined to take this difference into account.
Address Classes
In IPv4, five address classes summarized in Table 9.4 have been defined.
These main address classes are defined according to the number of bytes used
for the network address:
For class A addresses, the first byte (8 bits) is reserved for the network address
with the first bit set to zero. Thus, the network address is included between
Table 9.4
IPv4 Address Classes
Class A to
Class B to
Class C to 2,097,152
Class D to
Group addresses
Class E to
Configuring Network Parameters
0000000 and 0111111 in the binary format. Knowing that addresses
and are reserved, there are therefore 27 – 2, i.e., 126 available class
A network addresses, ranging from to
The number of hosts is defined on 3 bytes (24 bits). Since the broadcast
address (x.x.x.255) and address x.x.x.0 are reserved, this gives 224 – 2, i.e.,
16,777,214 possible hosts per class A network address.
For class B addresses, the first 2 bytes (16 bits) are used to define the network
address with the first two bits set to 1 and 0. There are therefore 214 – 2, i.e.,
16,384 available class B network addresses, ranging from to
The number of hosts per network address is defined on 2 bytes. Like for
class A addresses, since the broadcast address and address x.x.x.0 are
reserved, there are therefore 216 – 2, i.e., 65,534 possible hosts per class B network address.
For class C addresses, the first 3 bytes (24 bits) are used with the first three bits
set to 1.1 and 0, which gives 221 – 2, i.e., 2,097,152 available class C network
addresses, ranging from to
The number of hosts is defined on 1 byte (8 bits). Likewise, since the broadcast address and address x.x.x.0 are reserved, there are 28 – 2, i.e., 254 hosts
per class C network address.
Class C and D addresses are reserved for experimental multicast addressing.
IP addresses are not automatically allocated, and any address range cannot be
allocated to a network. The IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Agency) is in charge
of giving these addresses to any requestor. However, notice that all the available
class A and B addresses are already allocated.
IP addresses are routable addresses. This means that they cannot be used for private use.
To avoid improper IP addressing use, the IANA has reserved the three following
address ranges for the three main classes for strictly private use:
Class A: to
Class B: to
Class C: to
To connect to a network with a different addressing plan or to the Internet, each
station having a private IP address must specify a default gateway address. This
address corresponds to a station dealing with network routing and is used both for
sending and receiving requests from a nonroutable environment (private network)
to a routable environment (Internet).
In the case of Internet connection sharing via a gateway, the gateway is in
charge of sending requests from a private (therefore nonroutable) environment to
the Internet (routable) environment. In this case, the default gateway address is the
gateway IP address.
Subnet Mask
The mask is used for knowing the network address of a computer via a binary subtraction between the mask and the computer IP address.
If the IP address of a computer is and if the mask is
applied to it, the binary subtraction of these two addresses gives, i.e., the
network address.
In general, the masks for class A, class B, and class C addresses are,, and, respectively.
During mask configuration for two computers, if the IP address of one of them is with the mask and if the IP address of the second one is with the mask, their network addresses (192.168.0.x and
192.168.1.x) are not identical. Therefore, they do not belong to the same network
and cannot communicate.
DNS (Domain Name Service)
DNS is a hierarchical structure consisting of a group of servers used for associating
an IP address with a domain name consisting of an organization name (e.g., Google)
and a classification (.fr, .com, and so forth).
In this way, it is much easier to remember Web site, messaging, or FTP addresses
rather than their associated IP address.
It is still possible to know the IP address of a particular server or of a Web site.
For example, the IP address of the www.google.com Web site can be found out just
by ping-ing to this site as illustrated in Figure 9.39.
In general, two DNS server addresses are requested when the network parameters are configured in order to allow access to the network, should a server be defective. DNS addresses are necessarily IP addresses.
Figure 9.39
IP address of www.google.com
Configuring Network Parameters
Configuring Network Parameters Under Windows XP
In the Configuration panel, select “Network” then, in the network components
area, choose the TCP/IP component of your Wi-Fi board and click on “Properties”
to open the dialogue box.
Fill in the various fields using information given by your Internet service provider if this is necessary:
IP address corresponding to the computer IP address;
Subnet mask used for knowing the network address and the subnet address of
the IP address above;
Default gateway corresponding to the address of the network computer connected to the Internet;
DNS addresses generally given by the IAP or the network administrator.
For Windows versions other than Windows 2000 and XP, the computer must
be rebooted.
In the case of Windows 2000 or XP, the activation of the user-defined network
parameters can take up to ten seconds.
Configuring Network Parameters Under Linux/BSD
To configure the IP address and the subnet mask of the board, enter in a shell:
# ifconfig eth0 netmask
To configure the gateway address ( in this case), enter:
# route add default gw
The route command is used for checking whether the gateway address was actually added into the routing table:
# route
Kernel IP Routing Table
Use Iface
0 eth0
Flags Metric Ref
To configure the address of the name server or servers (DNS), just print out the
resolv.conf file that is in the /etc directory using the vi command:
# vi/etc/resolv.conf
Here is an example for the resolv.conf file:
nameserver adresse_IP_DNS
domain nom_de_domaine
nameserver is used for defining the primary DNS address, whereas domain
defines the network domain name, if it has a domain. The domain name is given by
the IAP like DNS addresses. If there are several DNS addresses, just add a line with
nameserver adress_IP_DNS for each additional DNS address.
This configuration can also be done semiautomatically by configuring the
/etc/pcmcia/network.opts file in case the network interface card is a PCMCIA board
or the /etc/network/interfaces file for a PCI or Mini-PCI board.
PLC in the Home
In spite of the still relatively high cost of PLC devices, more and more people are
tempted to install a power line communication home network. The fact that no
cables have to be laid seems to be the decisive factor for such a choice.
The installation of a PLC network in a house or apartment is actually extremely
simple. All you have to do is connect the PLC devices to the electrical network and
configure them. Ideally, you should have an Internet connection via an ADSL
modem (cable, satellite, or even 56K) that you just have to connect to a PLC device
acting as a gateway to provide Internet access to all the electrical network outlets.
New Internet access offers are made available by providers via two boxes: an
ADSL modem, which connects to the voice jack, and a video decoder box, which
receives the Internet IP video stream and broadcasts it to a TV set or an HDTV
screen. Some Internet access providers (IAP) add two PLC devices to these boxes in
order to connect them. This tendency will intensify with the development of HD
(high definition) video over IP services for domestic customers, which will be used
for broadcasting video streams to the various TV screens in the house. PLCs are one
of the best solutions for broadcasting these IP streams in terms of throughput or signal coverage area.
The topology of a PLC home network may vary depending on requirements and
electrical network architectures as well as the chosen devices and the network operating mode used.
Figure 10.1 illustrates a PLC home network in which the PLC device is connected to the Internet by means of a modem enabling connection sharing.
This chapter is devoted to the optimum installation of a PLC home network,
from the choice of a device to its installation and its configuration. The installation
of a home network is not a very difficult job, but it requires compliance with some
rules, notably concerning the electrical network and safety measures.
Electrical Security
PLC technology uses the 110-220V/50 to 60 Hz LV electrical network as a communication medium. Since this network is hazardous for human safety, it is important
to comply with a few elementary safety measures in order to avoid electrocution
Figure 10.2 illustrates a typical sign symbolizing electrical hazards.
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.1
PLC home network with shared Internet connection
Figure 10.2
Sign symbolizing an electrical hazard
The main electrical safety rules to be complied with are the following:
Install a 500 mA differential circuit breaker for protection against short circuits.
Protect outlets using a circuit breaker or a fuse not exceeding 16A.
Do not expose the devices to sun or heat.
Do not clean the devices using detergents or aerosols.
Do not disassemble the devices without having disconnected them and waited
for the discharge of the electronic components for a few minutes.
Do not install devices close to water inlets (bathtub, shower, washer, washbasin, swimming pool, and so forth).
Choosing a PLC Technology
Do not overload power strips or extension cords in order not to increase electrocution or fire risk.
Comply with the operating instructions of the PLC devices.
Do not try to install PLC injector systems on electrical wirings without the
help of a competent electrician.
If in doubt concerning any of these rules or the condition of the electrical network on which you wish to install the PLC network, it is recommended that you
contact a professional electrician or a PLC specialist.
Choosing a PLC Technology
As we saw in the previous chapters, there are several PLC technologies and specifications insofar as the IEEE 1901 standard is not available yet. Even though they
share some functionalities, these specifications have different characteristics. Only
the HomePlug consortium appears as a de facto PLC standard, since most devices
available on the market comply with this specification.
Table 10.1 summarizes criteria for the selection of the various PLC technologies
currently available.
Choosing Equipment
The prices of HomePlug 1.0 products have fallen drastically since the emergence of
HomePlug Turbo products, offering throughputs in keeping with current application requirements. The emergence of HomePlug AV devices has in turn resulted in
falling HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo device prices.
For the requirements of current applications (broadcasting of IPTV, data and
voice Internet flows in the house), HomePlug AV devices seem to coincide with the
best throughput/budget ratio expected from domestic users.
Increasing network application throughput requests between terminals of a
domestic installation (network games, broadcasting of data flows, voice and video
between media hubs and receiving or display stations) or to receive the services
Table 10.1
PLC Technology Choice Elements
1.0, Turbo, AV
Home networks, Internet broadcasting, IP video streams (HomePlug
AV), audio broadcasting
Professional networks, industrial applications, improved
service quality
PLC for the MV (medium voltage) electrical networks of local authorities
Professional networks, high rate home networks (voice, data, high definition IP video)
Professional networks, industrial applications, automotive PLC
PLC for the electrical networks of local authorities
PLC in the Home
offered by Internet access providers from anywhere in an installation, requires
devices with a throughput around 200 Mbit/s at the physical layer level, which is the
case of HomePlug AV devices.
Insofar as all HomePlug devices are compatible between themselves for 1.0 and
Turbo, various HomePlug products suited for the following uses will nonetheless
coexist for some time.
HomePlug 1.0: Web navigation, electronic mail;
HomePlug Turbo: Internet, IP telephony, data (exchange of bulky files),
images (IPTV or MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 video on demand);
HomePlug AV: digital HD video in the IP format (high-definition MPEG-2,
for example) broadcast to several display stations.
Placing Devices on the Electrical Network
To achieve a network quality and performance enabling the broadcasting of Internet
flows (voice, data, IPRV), it is important to place the PLC devices as efficiently as
possible on the electrical network according to the following criteria:
Topology of the installation’s electrical network;
Place of IP terminals and PC supposedly connected to the flows coming from
the Internet modem.
The following place is ideal for PLC devices:
Close to the circuit breaker panel from which the various electrical wirings
supplying the outlets, electrical devices, and the lights of the house start.
Close to the Internet modem connected to the public STN (switched telecommunications network) on the voice jack.
Figure 10.3 illustrates a regular domestic installation wiring diagram with
Internet access. The PLC devices are placed on the outlets located close to the voice
jack connecting the house to the Internet.
In such an installation, three PLC devices can be used for receiving the Internet
flow with a satisfactory coverage:
A gateway PLC device connected to the Ethernet jack of the Internet modem
and to outlet 1;
A PLC device for fixed PC (outlet 3) which can be on the same electrical
A PLC device for portable PC (outlet 5 or 6), which can be placed on a different floor to provide domestic installation mobility.
This network configuration with three devices is the most widespread in a
domestic environment. An increasing number of homes are equipped with at least
two computers and a high speed Internet connection of the InternetBox type.
Placing Devices on the Electrical Network
Figure 10.3
Regular wiring diagram for a domestic installation with Internet access
Figure 10.4 illustrates the same home network with all the devices installed for
the broadcasting of the various Internet flows to the outlets of the electrical network.
The PLC device located on outlet 3 is used by the computer for connecting to the
Internet via the outlets (outlet 3 to outlet 1). Therefore, it is important to find a satisfactory compromise between the desired throughput, the position of the PC in the
house, and the quality of the PLC communication links between outlet 3 and outlet 1.
With HomePlug Turbo devices, an outlet with a throughput between 12 Mbit/s
and 75 Mbit/s should be found using PLC configuration tools (such as the Intellon
Power Packet Utility described in Chapter 9), which is generally the case of outlets
located on the same floor in adjacent rooms.
The PLC device located on outlet 5 is used by the TV decoder for connecting to
the InternetBox via the electrical network and recovering the video streams from the
Internet connection. These video streams require a minimum stable 1-Mbit/s useful
throughput for fluid TV display. It is important not to degrade the video signal too
much on the electrical network so as not to lose images. This constraint supposes
that the PLC communication link between outlet 5 and outlet 1 provides a
1.5-Mbit/s useful throughput. This throughput can be checked using a PLC configuration tool. The involved device must be connected directly to a wall outlet or a
biplite, but not to a power strip.
Table 10.2 lists, for a HomePlug Turbo device, the correspondences between
the throughputs displayed by the configuration tool and the useful throughputs
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.4
Place of PLC devices in the domestic installation
available for the IP network applications based on the PLC network. According to
this table, it is important to find an outlet 5 that gives a minimum 10-Mbit/s displayed throughput.
The analog telephony flow originating from the Internet connection and available on the RJ-11 connector of the InternetBox connected to the telephone jack can
also be broadcast over the electrical network.
Wingoline PLC devices from Niroda, for example, operate in the 3.3- to
8.2-MHz frequency band according to a proprietary communication protocol different from that of HomePlug devices. The PLC network created with Niroda
devices is therefore not interoperable with a HomePlug PLC network. Up to 24
Niroda PLC devices can be placed on the same electrical network for adding analog
telephone lines.
Figure 10.5 illustrates the possible connectivities from the InternetBox provided
by the IAP with the following PLC networks:
HomePlug Ethernet PLC network used for connecting the IP terminals of the
house to the InternetBox Ethernet jacks;
RJ-11 PLC network used for connecting analog telephone devices to the
InternetBox voice jack;
RJ-11 PLC network used for connecting the InternetBox to the France
Télécom voice jack via the house electrical network.
Configuring Security Parameters
Table 10.2 Displayed and Useful
HomePlug Turbo PLC Throughputs
0.9 (ROBO mode) 0.2
The following Niroda devices of the RJ-11 PLC network can be placed as indicated in Figure 10.6:
InternetBox connected to the electrical network to outlet 1 via its RJ-11 telephone plug;
Telephone 1 connected to outlet 6 by means of a Niroda device to the telephone PLC network;
Telephone 2 connected to outlet 5 in the same manner.
Since the throughputs required for telephony are on the order of 20 Kbit/s, it is
quite realistic to envisage this on the electrical installation of a medium-sized house
(three or four rooms).
Figure 10.7 illustrates the following signals or flows circulating over the electrical and telephone networks of the domestic installation:
Analog telephone signal between the telephone sets and the InternetBox RJ11
IP data flow originating from the ADSL Internet connection.
Configuring Security Parameters
Even within the household, the protection of a PLC network represents a major
step. The use of electrical wiring implies that the network beams a more or less wide
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.5
Various PLC networks connected to an InternetBox
coverage area that can extend beyond the home area. This allows anybody to access
the network and to use its Internet connection, for example.
PLC networks provide security mechanisms likely to prevent eavesdropping
with a suitable password management scheme.
To protect the network in a still more reliable way, there are other
firewall-based solutions (authentication server and virtual private network).
Configuring the PLC Gateway
The gateway concept may seem ambiguous since there are potentially several gateways in the same network determined by the following elements:
The Internet, modem, or InternetBox gateway used for connecting the house
to the Internet network, generally by means of the telephone jack with an
xDSL connection;
The Ethernet gateway used for connecting the modem, a router, or the
InternetBox to the local area network and for configuring the security parameters detailed in the following sections;
The PLC gateway used for connecting the Internet gateway to the electrical
network and for broadcasting IP flows from the Internet in the entire network.
Configuring Security Parameters
Figure 10.6
Place of devices used for broadcasting IP telephony over the electrical home network
Figure 10.8 illustrates the location of these various gateway types in a domestic
For a HomePlug device, the PLC gateway requires no specific configuration
compared to the other PLC devices of the network since HomePlug Turbo operates
in peer-to-peer mode. The specific nature of the PLC gateway results from the fact
that this device is connected to the Internet gateway and that all the outgoing IP
flows to the Internet go through this device.
The only HomePlug parameter to be specifically configured on the PLC gateway is the priority (CA0, CA1, CA2, and CA3 parameters specifying four priority
levels). Table 10.3 summarizes the characteristics of these priority levels for
These eight priority classes are inherited from the description of the IEEE
802.1D standard classes by simplifying the eight 802.1D classes in four PLC classes.
To configure the values of CA priority parameters on the PLC gateway, simply
set the value to CA3 to allow prioritization of the incoming and outgoing traffic of
the PLC device that can be the bottleneck of the PLC network.
Insofar as the PLC configuration tools cannot be used for configuring this
parameter, I have developed a specific tool for the Windows operating system that
starts as an executable file. This program is available at the following address:
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.7
Broadcasting of the analog telephone signal over the electrical home network
Figure 10.8
Location of the various gateways from the public network to the private network
Configuring Security Parameters
Table 10.3 Data Traffic Priority Levels for the PLC Gateway
Low priority
High priority
7 (highest priority level)
Figure 10.9
Launching the PLC priority configuration tool
The WinPCap tool used for managing inputs/outputs on the network interface
card must be installed beforehand. This tool is generally pre-installed by the PLC
configuration tools. If not, it can be downloaded at the following address:
Once the WinPCap tool is downloaded and installed, just proceed in the following way to install the ConfigurationPrioritéCPL tool:
Download the ConfigurationPrioritéCPL.zip file, then decompress it in a local
Run the tool by double-clicking on the ConfigurationPrioritéCPL.exe file.
Once the tool has been launched, a DOS window prompts you to choose one of
the priorities, 0(CA0), 1(CA1), 2(CA2) or 3(CA3), as illustrated by Figure 10.9.
Once the priority is chosen, the tool prompts you to choose the Ethernet network interface card of the PC locally connected to the PLC device. The IP address
information is used for recognizing the correct network interface card. In the case of
Figure 10.10, the board connected to the PLC gateway is board 3 whose IP address
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.10
Configuring the Ethernet board connected to the PLC device
Once the network interface card has been chosen, the DOS window closes; this
indicates that the priority configuration is completed.
It is important to identify the PLC device with the highest priority level and to
maintain its connection to the Internet gateway or to the InternetBox.
Configuring PLC Security
The configuration of PLC security is a major aspect of the PLC network implementation enabling the securing of data exchanges between the electrical network PLC
devices. Since the PLC signal propagates beyond the house meter boundaries, any
malevolent person can intercept the data if the PLC devices are simply configured
using the default parameters of the NEK.
Several PLC networks can also be installed on the same electrical network with
security configuration by configuring various NEK on the connected HomePlug
As we saw in Chapter 9, dedicated to the configuration of HomePlug PLC
devices, the NEK key must be configured on all the PLC devices to be installed using
configuration tools such as Power Packet Utility from Intellon for HomePlug
1.0/Turbo and Power Manager from AsokaUSA for HomePlug AV.
This tool (available at the following address: http://asokausa.com/downloads/Power Manager1.2.0-Common.zip is used for configuring the NEK on the
various PLC devices. In order to do this, simply connect the PLC devices one by one
to the PC on which the configuration tool is installed by means of a network cable
(Ethernet or USB depending on the PLC device model).
Once the device is connected to the PC, the configuration tool runs via the
“Start” menu. The window illustrated in Figure 10.11 then opens. The device locally
connected to the PC is described in the “Devices” window pane.
The “New Network Password” field is used for modifying the network key set
by default to the HomePlug value and for assigning a specific value to it for the
domestic installation network.
Configuring Security Parameters
Figure 10.11
“Products” tab of the AsokaUSA PLC configuration tool
This key must have between 4 and 24 characters and include numerals and
(lowercase and uppercase) letters if possible, for example, PLCNetworks. Just click
on “Update” for local device configuration. The configuration is confirmed thanks
to a window indicating “Network Encryption is successfully changed” as illustrated
in Figure 10.12.
To perform the same operation on all PLC devices, simply connect them to the
configuration PC.
Once all the PLC devices are correctly configured, the “Devices” tab is used for
ensuring that all the PLC devices can be seen from the PLC gateway.
Figure 10.13 illustrates a PLC network with two PLC devices and the following
PLC links:
Figure 10.12
NEK configuration in “Security” tab
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.13
Testing good operation of the PLC network at the IP level
MAC device = 00:0C:B9:08:47:0F to living room device: “good” quality with
24.55 Mbit/s displayed throughput;
MAC device = 00:0C:B9:08:47:10 to bedroom device (HomePlug 1.0):
“first-rate” quality with 13.43 Mbit/s displayed throughput.
Since the PLC network security is confirmed, the security of the terminals themselves can be configured.
Maximum Number of PLC Devices on the Same Network
The HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo specifications indicate that a PLC network with the same network key can have a maximum of 15 devices. Since several NEK cannot be configured with
HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo devices, a device can belong to only one PLC network at a time.
This problem is solved with the HomePlug AV standard that enables various network configurations and several network keys for the same device.
Testing Operation of the PLC Network
Once the various PLC devices of the network are configured, it is recommended that
you check the good operation of the domestic installation network links by performing a test with the PLC configuration tool (“Products” tab).
Configuring Security Parameters
To test the good operation of the PLC network, it can also be useful to run
“Ping” commands from the PC connected to the PLC network to the InternetBox as
illustrated in Figure 10.13.
For this purpose, all the PCs or terminals must be in the same addressing plane
as the InternetBox (for example, for an IP network of the 192.168.10.x type, the
InternetBox is in IP = and the other devices in IP =,
101, 102, and so forth). The configuration of the network address (or IP) for a PC is
detailed in Chapter 9.
To start the “Ping” command, just proceed as follows:
Click on “Start” then on “Execute.”
Enter cmd. A DOS window opens.
Enter the following command:
Pinging with 32 bytes of data :
If replies are sent back with this command, this means that the network links are
configured and ready to be used by applications.
The connection to the Internet network can provide access to the home network to
ill-intentioned people. The only solution to prevent these attacks consists of using a
firewall. The purpose of a firewall is to authorize certain protocols only, within the
home network, depending on the port number used.
Each protocol uses a specific port number (e.g., port 80 for HTTP [hypertext
transfer protocol] which enables it to be recognized as such by the network). By only
authorizing certain ports and therefore certain applications, such as electronic mail,
HTTP, or FTP, all the other ports are prohibited.
Among the many firewalls available on the market, there are free ones such as
those available in Linux distributions using a 2.4 or 2.6 kernel.
Windows XP enables you to establish software firewalling rules for a station’s
network connection but not for the entire network, unlike hardware firewalls,
which can prohibit a protocol for an entire network.
To access the Windows XP software firewall, just proceed as follows:
In the Configuration panel, select “Network connection” to display the window illustrated in Figure 10.14.
Select “Ethernet network connection” to display the dialogue box illustrated in
Figure 10.15.
Click on the “Advanced” tab and click on “Settings” to display the Windows
Firewall dialog box as illustrated in Figure 10.16.
In the “General” tab, tick the “On” box (recommended).
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.14
Windows XP network connection window
Hardware firewalls must be installed on the computer connected to the Internet.
This is ideally a dedicated computer, such as the access gateway defined above (see
Figure 10.17).
The only way of guaranteeing the total security of a PLC network consists of using a
VPN (virtual private network) as explained in Chapter 4.
The use of an authentication server is only necessary if the network requires a
high level of protection. The authentication scheme is used, as its name implies, for
reliably authenticating any user who wants to connect to the network. RADIUS
(remote authentication dial-in user server of which a free version called
“Freeradius,” is available at the following address: http://www.freeradius.org, is the
most widespread authentication protocol).
To protect a network on an even higher reliability level, a VPN is essential.
VPNs are used for fully protecting PLC network links by means of authentication
and encryption mechanisms. At present, IPsec is the most widespread protocol in
VPN. However, the use of an IPsec VPN requires rather powerful computers. It also
requires the client computers to have the configuration required by their VPN client.
Using authentication servers or VPN servers requires the adding of the corresponding functionalities coinciding with the level of a specific gateway in case the
gateway for accessing the Internet already incorporates a DHCP server and an NAT
router, as illustrated in Figure 10.18.
Configuring Security Parameters
Figure 10.15
Ethernet properties dialogue box
Figure 10.16
Advanced connection firewall configuration parameters
Another way of improving the security of the PLC network and of the IP local
area network consists of installing a PPPoE server and an associated RADIUS
server. This technique is used for implementing IP “tunnels” between the computers
connected to the PLC local area network and to the Internet gateway; these clients
are authenticated on the RADIUS server.
If an intruder successfully connects to a PLC local area network, he cannot use
the local area network as long as he is not connected to the PPPoE server and to the
RADIUS server on the gateway. Therefore, the hacker’s station can neither access
other computers connected to the PLC network nor access the Internet via the PLC
network gateway.
Figure 10.19 illustrates the concept of PPPoE tunnels established between the
client computers and the Internet gateway and enabling the securing of exchanges
between the gateway (and the Internet) and these client computers.
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.17
PLC network with access gateway protected by a firewall
Figure 10.18
PLC network with gateway protected by VPN or RADIUS
Configuring an Internet Gateway
Figure 10.19
PLC network with gateway protected by PPPoE and RADIUS servers
This protection technique based on PPPoE tunnels is widely used by Internet
access providers to ensure the separation between the various Internet access clients
but it can be applied to a PLC home or professional network as well.
Configuring an Internet Gateway
In a PLC network, any Internet connection may be used: 56K modem, ISDN, cable,
ADSL, ADSL2+, satellite, or FTTH (fiber to the home). Since the transmission speed
of a PLC network is between 1 and 14 Mbit/s for HomePlug 1.0, 1 to 85 Mbit/s for
HomePlug Turbo, and 1- to 200 Mbit/s for HomePlug AV, the throughputs of the
Internet connections currently available are largely covered.
The HomePlug 1.0 performance can generate useful throughputs that are lower
than those of the latest ADSL technologies such as ADSL2+ (20 Mbit/s); but as soon
as you switch to HomePlug Turbo (25 Mbit/s), this is no longer a problem.
The Internet connection can occur in two different ways:
By using a dedicated computer, or by connecting the PLC device directly to
the modem for access to the Internet or InternetBox;
By using a PLC modem-router directly.
In the first case, a computer shares its connection, as illustrated in Figure 10.20.
Figure 10.21 illustrates a PLC home network in which a multifunction device
(xDSL/PLC modem/router) is connected to the Internet.
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.20
Internet connection via a dedicated computer
The disadvantage of this type of typology is that the PLC device only rarely has a
firewall used for blocking various traffic types and avoiding attacks on the network
or a VPN. In a topology where a dedicated computer is used for the Internet connection, any firewalling software or VPN server can be installed to protect the network.
Sharing the Internet Connection
For sharing an Internet connection, two protocols are used: the NAT (network
address translation) and the DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol):
NAT enables the sharing of an Internet connection between several stations
while using the IP address given by the Internet access provider (IAP). Another
distinctive feature of the NAT is that this enables you to prevent certain
attacks. Some Internet modems fitted with router functionalities incorporate
the NAT, but it can be installed on a dedicated computer connected to the
DHCP is a client-server protocol that enables you to dynamically allocate, for
a given amount of time (lease time), the TCP/IP parameters that a station
requires for its connection to the network. The parameters given by the DHCP
server to the station are the computer IP address, the subnet mask, the address
of the default gateway, and the addresses of the name servers (DNS). DHCP
Configuring an Internet Gateway
Figure 10.21
Internet connection via a PLC modem-router
offers a user-friendly station configuration mode, but this configuration can
also be performed manually by modifying the board parameters directly.
DNS Addresses
The DNS addresses are given by the Internet access provider, except if there is a local DNS
in the home network.
As far as IP addresses are concerned, all the network stations must have the
same network address, e.g., 192.168.0.x or 10.0.x.x, with x between 1 and 254 in
both cases, as illustrated by Figure 10.22.
Configuring NAT and DHCP
The ideal architecture of a PLC home network is the architecture in which the PLC
router is used both as the NAT router and as the DHCP server, with the NAT
enabling the sharing of the Internet connection with all the devices connected to the
network and the DHCP giving all the parameters used by each device for its connection to the network. These functionalities are available with most PLC
modems-routers intended for the domestic market.
This ideal architecture is illustrated in Figure 10.23.
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.22
Configuring home network IP addresses
In the case where NAT and DHCP functionalities are not built into the Internet
modem or the InternetBox used as an Internet access gateway, it is still possible to
use them, but by configuring a dedicated computer acting as a gateway, as illustrated in Figure 10.24.
To configure such a dedicated computer, the best solution is to use Linux, the
various distributions of which provide NAT and DHCP functionalities, whereas
chargeable software must be used under Windows. The other advantage of Linux is
that the system does not require tremendous resources.
To configure a computer using NAT and incorporating a DHCP server, a 486
generation processor and 32 Mb of memory are more than enough. Another advantage: this computer can remain switched on all the time without encountering any
DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol)
The DHCP protocol is used for dynamically providing IP parameters to the stations
connecting to the network. This protocol is used more and more since it makes network administration easier, in particular when a rather high number of computers
are administered.
DHCP was originally designed to complete another protocol, BOOTP (Boot
strap Protocol), used in the same spirit. The BOOTP messages are compatible with
DHCP but not the reverse. The difference between DHCP and BOOTP is that
Configuring an Internet Gateway
Figure 10.23
Ideal architecture of a PLC home network
DHCP can provide a station with a certain range of addresses and that each of these
addresses is negotiated and is valid only for a given period of time.
DHCP Architecture
The DHCP is based on a client-server architecture. In the case of PLC networks, the
DHCP client is the device connected to the PLC network and the DHCP server is the
PLC modem-router.
In the example illustrated in Figure 10.25, there is only one DHCP server
located at the InternetBox level for recent IAP offers or at the Internet modem level,
but a network can be made up of several gateways for access to the Internet and
therefore of several DHCP servers. Using several DHCP servers does not trigger any
network constraints.
When a station initiates the DHCP protocol, this protocol provides it with the
following parameters:
IP address;
Subnet mask;
Default gateway;
DNS address;
Domain name.
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.24
Architecture of a PLC home network with a dedicated gateway for accessing the
Figure 10.25
DHCP architecture
Configuring an Internet Gateway
Once these parameters have been received, the computer can dialogue freely
with other computers on the network or have access to the Internet if there is a connection sharing scheme. This is a user-transparent mechanism that does not take
more than one second.
Another characteristic feature of DHCP is the lease. As we explained above, the
parameters given to a network station are valid for a given period of time only. This
lease is negotiated between the computer and the server when parameters are
requested. When this lease expires, it can still be renegotiated by the computer.
Dynamic Configuration of a DHCP Client
The dynamic configuration of a computer that connects to a DHCP server takes
place in four phases, as illustrated in Figure 10.26:
When a DHCP client accesses a network, no address is allocated to him and
his IP address is
In order to configurate himself, the client sends a DHCP DISCOVER request
in broadcast mode – with IP address – over the network in
which he inserts his MAC address.
MAC Address
The MAC address is a fixed address assigned to each Ethernet board of the terminals connected to the PLC network.
The DHCP server replies with a DHCP OFFER always sent in broadcast
mode since the client does not have an IP address yet. The DHCP OFFER is
made up of the client’s MAC address, the lease time, and the server IP address.
It is possible to have several DHCP servers, but we only use one within the
framework of this book.
If the client accepts this offer, he sends a DHCP REQUEST in order to receive
the parameters.
The server sends a DHCP PACK confirming the client’s acceptance.
Figure 10.26
Dynamic configuration of a computer via the DHCP
PLC in the Home
Configuration Under Windows XP
Configuring a DHCP client under Windows XP is very simple:
When inserting an Ethernet board under Windows, it is automatically configured as the DHCP client by default.
If the board has already been configured before with a fixed IP address, open
the Configuration panel and select “Network connection.” The window illustrated in Figure 10.27 is displayed.
Choose “Connection to the local area network” to display the dialogue box
illustrated in Figure 10.28.
Click on “Properties” to display the properties of the connection to the local
area network, as illustrated in Figure 10.29.
Tick the “Internet protocol (TCP/IP)” box. The “Properties of the Internet
protocol (TCP/IP)” dialogue box is displayed, as illustrated in Figure 10.30.
Tick the “Obtain an IP address automatically” box. The computer now has a
DHCP configuration.
Under Windows 2000/XP, to check whether the board is configured properly,
just make sure that it is supported in the “Status of the connection to the local area
network” dialogue box, as illustrated in Figure 10.31 (see the first bullet above to
access this dialogue box).
The “Details” button provides more information on the board’s parameters (see
Figure 10.32).
Figure 10.27
Network configuration (in this case, the PC also has a Wi-Fi connection)
Configuring an Internet Gateway
Figure 10.28
Status of the connection to the local area network
Figure 10.29
Properties of the connection to the local area network
Figure 10.30
Configuring the TCP/IP parameters of the local area network Ethernet board
PLC in the Home
Figure 10.31
TCP/IP parameters of the local area network Ethernet board
The board configuration can be checked via the ipconfig command:
In the Start menu, click on the “Execute” button, and enter cmd to open the
MS-DOS command.
When prompted to, enter ipconfig/all to display all the information concerning the network interface card and make sure that it has actually been configured. In Figure 10.33, we can see that the information is the same as that
obtained previously.
The board may have not been configured by the DHCP server. If this is the case,
Windows assigns a default IP address of the 169.254.x.x type to the board. To
reinitialize a request to the DHCP server, just enter
Figure 10.32
Detailed TCP/IP parameters of the local area network Ethernet board
Configuring an Internet Gateway
Figure 10.33
TCP/IP parameters of the board via ipconfig
PLC for Businesses
The PLC networks increasingly invade the business world, and more generally the
networks of professional and industrial buildings, where they complete or replace
Wi-Fi or Ethernet networks.
The PLC networks can be considered as backbones not only for the premises of
a SMB but also for professional (hotels, hospitals, concert halls, superstores, and so
forth) and industrial (factories, warehouses, cranes, and so forth) buildings due to
the performance and propagation distances of the electrical networks.
Therefore, the PLC networks can be considered as a technology used for replacing, completing, or serving other corporate network technologies, in particular the
following ones:
Backbone to replace the Ethernet network for cost reasons or for buildings in
which works cannot be carried out (classified or protected buildings, hospitals, and so forth) or backbone of a Wi-Fi network to connect the various cells
of the radio system;
Supplement to the Ethernet network to satisfy the needs for the extension of
an existing network (lower costs, easy deployment, and so forth) or if a company moves;
Temporary network for event coverage (such as a concert, conference, and so
Creation of several distinct networks on the same electrical network (administration, public corporation, laboratory, and so forth).
The price of PLC devices is not very high, especially in the case of a company
fully changing over to the PLC technology when reasoning in the long term and if
the savings related to the wired equipment are considered (cables, outlets, switches,
and so forth).
Within a company, the PLC network can be considered either as an operating
network or as a “guest” network used, for example, by visitors for gaining access to
the Internet. In the latter case, it is preferable to separate this network from the corporate network.
As in the previous chapter devoted to the installation of a PLC home network,
this chapter describes the necessary steps for the installation and configuration of a
PLC corporate network with special emphasis on access to the electrical network.
PLC for Businesses
Network Architecture
In a company, there can be great differences in the architecture of a PLC network
according to the network size, to the number of stations to be connected, and to the
objectives assigned to the network.
The network architecture of a small company with a small number of PCs (less
than ten stations) and an Internet connection via a cable modem or ADSL does not
differ from the architecture of a home network.
The single possible options relate to the management of the functionalities of the
DHCP server, NAT router, and Internet connection via a dedicated gateway. Then,
it is still possible to add one or several PLC gateways by means of a switch in order
to build various PLC networks on the same electrical network.
Figure 11.1 illustrates an architecture in which the server acts as the DHCP
server and NAT router and where a switch is connected to it to make it possible to
add new PLC gateways for access to the architecture.
Most often, the PLC network comes along on top of an Ethernet network existing in a company that already has some functionalities, such as DHCP, the Internet
connection, and NAT.
Figure 11.2 illustrates a corporate network consisting of two subnets connected
to each other via a WAN (wide-area network) by means of routers. The routers are
themselves connected to the Ethernet network of each section of the corporate network. The PLC networks used for connecting the terminals of the various company
rooms are connected to these Ethernet networks.
Figure 11.1
Architecture of a PLC network with several PLC gateways connected to a switch
Network Architecture
Figure 11.2
Corporate network architecture with routers incorporating PLC networks
The terminals can be connected to the network PLC devices in different ways as
Terminals directly connected to a PLC device connected to the electrical network;
terminals connected to a switch PLC device that connects to the PLC network
and distributes the connections in the room via its switch function;
Terminals connected via their radio interface to a Wi-Fi access point fitted
with a PLC functionality that it uses for its connection to the PLC network.
Supervising a PLC Network
The professional and industrial corporate networks require certain functionalities
that are not demanded by home networks (supervision, in particular), in order to
permanently ensure the good network operation and to retrieve alerts to the administrators should some devices fail.
Among the standardized protocols for supervision, the SNMP (simple network
management protocol), versions v1, v2, and v3, has become prevalent in the network devices that are now largely fitted with a SNMP software element. This software element is used for interrogating a remote network device and for obtaining
the value of a number of network and system parameters (lost packets, received
packets, temperature of the boards, CPU polling, and so forth).
PLC for Businesses
The PLC technologies operate at the data link layer level (MAC layer); they cannot be used for the direct remote SNMP interrogation. However, a number of hardware and software tools are used for supervising all the PLC networks.
Figure 11.3 illustrates the supervision of several PLC networks from various
technologies. AsokaUSA, DS2, and Spidcom directly implement a HTTP interface
and an SNMP stack (with the corresponding MIB) in their devices.
Since the HomePlug (1.0, Turbo, and AV) technologies do not propose an
SNMP stack in their devices, it is necessary to use or to develop supervision tools at
the MAC level and to use the PLC configuration tools that give the status of the PLC
links at the PHY level.
Choosing a Standard
Unlike PLC networks for domestic use, for which the price of the devices is the main
criterion, the professional and industrial corporate networks often require
functionalities that imply the choice of a more professional technology while
endeavoring to select a standard that is as open as possible to allow future evolutions.
Table 11.1 lists the criteria for the selection of a corporate PLC technology.
Figure 11.3
Supervision tools for the various PLC network technologies
Choosing Network and Electrical Equipment
Table 11.1
Criteria for the Choice of Corporate PLC Technologies
1.0, Turbo
Low cost, ideal for SMB, few advanced functionalities, DES 56-bit security, easy deployment, few administration possibilities
Leading-edge technology, high useful throughput, higher cost, advanced
network management functionalities,
guaranteed QoS
HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo compatible, advanced functionalities (HTTP
interface, SNMP administration with a single IP address, reinforced security, and so forth), professional electrical coupling systems, PLC repeaters
DS2 AV200
High and stable throughput, master-slave architecture, centralized administration, not HomePlug compatible, product integration into professional
packages, advanced configuration functionalities (security, QoS, VLAN,
and so forth)
High and stable throughput, highly advanced configuration (possible configuration of each of the frequency sub-bands used), centralized administration (SNMP, HTTP, and so forth), experience with innovative products
in the PLC field
The AsokaUSA company develops products intended for professionals based on the
HomePlug specification, which makes these products interoperable with the HomePlug
1.0, Turbo, and AV devices. This company also proposes products and accessories used
for optimizing the PLC network (repeaters, filters, coupling systems).
The Devolo company develops HomePlug (1.0, Turbo, and AV) products
intended for professionals by integrating them into metal packages fitted with
attachment systems suited to the technical rooms close to the electrical devices of a
company or industrial building.
Choosing Network and Electrical Equipment
Some criteria used for choosing PLC devices for home networks can be reused here,
provided that a number of other criteria are added to them, in particular the following ones:
Management of more than 15 devices (HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo standard
limits for a simple PLC network);
Network monitoring (typically SNMP);
Centralized administration and configuration (HTTP, Telnet, SSH, and so
Isolated metal packages used for dissipating the heat of the PLC electronic
PLC interface and separate 110 to 220V/50 to 60 Hz power supply;
Possible repetition of the PLC signal;
PLC for Businesses
Integration of advanced network functions (NAT router, DHCP server,
firewall, switch, Wi-Fi, and so forth).
As far as the PLC devices are concerned (filters, coupling systems, PLC signal
injectors, and so forth), it is recommended to use professional products and to install
them with the help of accredited electricians in order to ensure compliance with the
security standards and to obtain a perennial installation.
Service Quality
The integration of the quality of service (QoS) into the various PLC technologies is
required by the development of real-time applications, such as video on demand,
broadcasting of HDTV video streams, IP telephony, computer-supported cooperative work, videoconferencing, and so forth.
The network constraints for such applications can be difficult to reconcile with
the fact that the PLC technologies use as the communication medium the electrical
network that is subjected to interference from the other devices connected to the network.
Table 11.2 summarizes the functionalities implemented in the various PLC technologies in order to satisfy these constraints.
Among these technologies, HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo are perhaps those offering
the least QoS guarantees, whereas HomePlug AV offers optimal QoS guarantees,
insofar as the PLC signal is based on the 110 to 220V/50 to 60 Hz signal conveyed
over the electrical wirings to synchronize the various PLC network devices.
QoS in HomePlug AV
The HomePlug AV specification benefits from many developments and added
functionalities in comparison with HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo. Among them, the QoS has
been implemented by means of traffic classes with guaranteed performance. The AV name
itself corresponds to audio and video, two application types in which the QoS constraints
Table 11.2
QoS Functionalities of the PLC Technologies
1.0, Turbo
CA priorities (PRS intervals in the frames) corresponding to the VLAN
labels of the IEEE 802.1Q standard
User priority classes (0 to 7) corresponding to the traffic classes of the
IEEE 802.1D standard, Synchro AC, TDMA, QMP propagation, use of
the VLAN labels of the IEEE 802.1Q standard
PLC priorities (VLAN, fixed, fairness), priority levels (0 to 5), limitation
by source (IP or MAC), by destination (IP or MAC) (uplink and
downlink throughput)
DS2 AV200
Default priority, Criterion parameters, use of Offset, Pattern, Bitmask,
use of the VLAN labels of the IEEE 802.1Q standard
Use of the IEEE 802.1Q (VLAN labels) and IEEE 802.1P standards for
the QoS of time critical applications
Choosing Network and Electrical Equipment
(guaranteed high thrughput, propagation time, jitter) are crucial for the good transmission operation without data loss.
These constraints can be tolerated by implementing the following functionalities (see
Chapter 3):
• PLC signal synchronization with 50/60 Hz in order to guarantee TDMA and
CSMA/CA time spaces with CP (contention period) and CFP (contention-free
• QMP (QoS and MAC parameters) in the CM (connection manager), CCo (central
coordinator) and STA (station) devices;
• Propagation of the QMP between the various network devices in order to keep the
PLC network homogeneous in terms of QoS and performance.
Among the QMP parameters, Table 11.3 summarizes the most important ones for
QoS management. As a reminder, the MSDU (MAC service data unit) is the data frame at
the MAC level in the data link layer.
As we can see, the QoS management in HomePlug AV is particularly complicated and
uses many parameters permanently exchanged between the network PLC devices.
This QoS management guarantees the network constraints that are required for the
applications. HomePlug AV specifies eight application classes corresponding to various
user priority levels, as indicated in Table 11.4.
Access to the Electrical Medium
As we have seen in Chapters 7 and 10, the two main methods for gaining access to
the electrical medium are the following:
Capacitive coupling, which consists of connecting the PLC device (gateway or
network device) to an outlet like a home electrical device (see Figure 11.4).
Inductive coupling, which is more efficient to broadcast the PLC signal over
the cables and allows better performance. However, it requires access to the
electrical wirings, which is only possible at the circuit breaker panel level by
using couplers/injectors on each cable (on a single cable or several cables at
the same time).
Figure 11.5 illustrates the principle of each type of PLC signal injection over the
electrical wirings at the circuit breaker panel level. To place the PLC signal injection
systems, it is preferable to remove the case of the circuit breaker panel in order to
gain access to the various outgoing cables to the building outlets. To carry out this
operation, it is necessary to be authorized to intervene on electrical networks or to
call on an approved electrician.
Mutual induction phenomena between the electrical wirings of a network, in
particular at the circuit breaker panel level, where the cables are close to each other,
enable consideration of the system in different ways:
A single cable (or a single phase or the neutral cable), with induction on the
other cables.
Several cables at the same time, with a single injector including all the cables
and mutual induction to the neutral cable.
PLC for Businesses
Table 11.3
Main HomePlug AV QoS QMP
Delay bound
Maximum time measured in microseconds to convey an MSDU between the
moment when it is delivered to the SAP (service access point) convergence
sub-layer at the sending station data link layer level and the moment when it
is received at the receiver station SAP layer level.
Jitter bound
Maximum shift measured in microseconds concerning the propagation delay
of an MSDU between the SAP layer of the sender and the SAP layer of the
Nominal MSDU
Nominal value of the data part of the MSDU frame in bytes based on the
IEEE 802.3 standard (between 46 bytes and 1,500 bytes).
Maximum value of the data part of the MSDU frame.
Minimum value of the data part of the MSDU frame.
Average data rate
Average transmission speed measured in 10-Kbit/s units specified at the SAP
convergence sub-layer level to convey MSDU frames over a PLC link. This
does not include MAC and PHY headers that are necessary to convey MSDU
Max data rate
Maximum transmission speed specified at the SAP convergence sub-layer
level to convey MSDU frames over a PLC link.
Min data rate
Minimum transmission speed specified at the SAP convergence sub-layer level
to convey MSDU frames over a PLC link.
Max burst size
Maximum size, expressed in bytes, of an overrun during the continuous sending of MSDU frames generated by an application at the maximum transmission speed.
MSDU error rate
Error rate for an MSDU frame, expressed as x × 10 , where x is specified in
the 8 most significant bits in the unsigned integer format, and y in the 8 least
significant bits in the same format.
Inactivity interval
Maximum time, measured in milliseconds, during which a connection may be
maintained in the inactive status (no conveyance of useful data) before the
CM (Connection Manager) device authorizes the transmission again.
CLST (convergence layer
SAP type)
Compatibility of the SAP convergence sub-layer with other layers than that
specified in the IEEE 802.3 standard.
CDESC (connection
Optional fields from the upper application layers, or HLE (high layers entities), used, for example, for the QoS in the UPnP (universal plug-and-play)
mode, or other upper application layers. These fields are the following: IP
version (v4 or v6), source IP, destination IP, source port IP, destination port
IP, IP protocol (UDP or TCP).
ATS tolerance
Tolerated variance, measured in microseconds, on the ATS (arrival time
stamp) time stamping deviation between the PLC network synchronization
clock or NTS (Network Time Base), and the marking of MSDU frames with
the ATS time stamping.
Average number of PBs
Average number of PHY data blocks (at the physical layer level) in 520-byte
(PHY blocks) per TXOP
blocks per interval between two transmission opportunities to convey an
(time allowed between two
MSDU frame over a PLC link.
transmisson opportunities)
Minimum number of PBs
per TXOP
Minimum number of PHY data blocks (in 520-byte blocks) necessary to convey an MSDU frame over a PLC link.
Maximum number of PBs Maximum number of PHY data blocks (in 520-byte blocks) necessary to convey an MSDU frame over a PLC link.
per TXOP
Each phase (each cable), with three different injectors connected to the cable
TV PLC device via a “one-to-three” TV signal splitter. The induction takes
place from the three phases to the neutral cable.
Choosing Network and Electrical Equipment
Table 11.4 Application Classes According to the User Priority Levels
Network check (characterized by packets for which the reception is guaranteed in
order to maintain the network infrastructure)
Voice (propagation delay of less than 10 ms and maximum known jitter–envisaged
situation: campus LAN crossing)
Video and audio (propagation delay of less than 100 ms)
Checked network traffic (typically for professional applications with admission
check and guaranteed bandwidth reservation during some transmission periods)
Platinium (typically for applications of the “best effort” type for some privileged
users of the PLC network)
1, 2
Background traffic (typically for file transfers and other important traffic with no
impact on the remainder of PLC network applications)
Best effort (typically the usual LAN traffic: electronic mail, Web navigation, FTP,
IRC, and so forth)
Figure 11.4
Capacitive coupling principle for a PLC device over the electrical network
Placing Equipment
The location of the PLC devices on the electrical network clearly influences the PLC
signal propagation over the various electrical wirings running across a building.
Therefore, it is important to choose a location that best promotes the propagation
to the maximum network outlets, as illustrated in Figure 11.6.
The circuit breaker panel is a strategic place of the electrical network, since it
can be viewed as the network “hub,” where all the cables connect to recover the
electricity from the meter. Therefore, this “electrical” hub is the ideal place for the
placement of the PLC devices that will be used as the gateway, which will be connected both to the corporate Ethernet LAN and to the electrical network to broad-
PLC for Businesses
Figure 11.5
Inductive coupling methods for PLC devices over electrical wirings
cast the Ethernet (Internet or LAN) frames to the various PLC devices connected to
the outlets.
It is important to recover a wiring diagram of the building in order to know the
topology of the electrical network and to see the various phase distributions (in the
case of a three-phase topology).
Choosing the Network Architecture
As we could see in Chapters 3 and 10, there are several types of network architectures according to the PLC technologies used.
In the case of a peer-to-peer topology (HomePlug 1.0 or Turbo), one of the
devices is used as the gateway between the Ethernet network and the electrical network, but has no specific place in the PLC network. This architecture type is relevant
for LAN type networks connected between themselves by a wired Ethernet backbone.
Since each device has the same hierarchical level in the network, it is important
not to space out the PLC devices too much on the electrical network (one device per
adjacent room).
In the case of an architecture in the master-slave mode (DS2 or Spidcom), one of
the devices (the master) benefits from a privileged place in the network and must be
capable of displaying the various slave PLC devices. The circuit breaker panel is an
ideal central location again to broadcast the PLC signal to the majority of the electri-
Security Parameters
Figure 11.6
PLC signal injection at the circuit breaker panel of a building
cal network outlets. This central location can be in the technical room as close to the
LAN Ethernet network devices as possible.
In the case of a centralized mode architecture (HomePlug AV), the architecture
devices are the CCo (central coordinator) and the STA (stations). There is only one
CCo per AVLN (AV logical network) to manage the PLC links between the network
PLC devices. HomePlug AV specifies that the device best “placed” in the electrical
network, i.e., the device that can view the other devices, is automatically configured
as CCo because of its functionalities. Therefore, it is judicious to place this device at
the most central point of the electrical network (circuit breaker panel) from which it
can view all the STA devices of the HomePlug AV PLC network.
These various network architecture options are illustrated in the implementation example presented at the end of the chapter.
Security Parameters
As we have seen in the previous chapter dedicated to home networks, it is important
to correctly configure the keys of the PLC networks so that no malevolent person
can get into it and recover the frames circulating over the electrical network.
Let’s specify that, unlike Wi-Fi technologies, which use the air and can therefore
be potentially listened to, as the physical medium, the PLC technologies make it
extremely difficult to connect to the electrical medium to try to recover these
PLC for Businesses
In the case of a company, it is however necessary to see to it that the firewalls for
access to the Internet are correctly configured and that the various logical corporate
networks are correctly separated in order to protect its data. The following sections
introduce the main lines to be complied with for this purpose.
Security Topologies
There are radical methods to make a PLC corporate network secure, like the installation of the network fully outside of the corporate network or the access protection
between the PLC part and the remainder of the network.
Figure 11.7 illustrates the first solution. It is generally expensive to install a PLC
network outside of the corporate network in terms of time or equipment purchase.
In addition, the company finds itself with two networks to manage and therefore
two Internet connections, two DHCP servers, and so forth, the administration of
which obviously requires more time.
In the second solution, illustrated in Figure 11.8, the connection between the
PLC network and the corporate network is made secure in the same manner as an
Internet connection by means of a firewall.
The AsokaUSA company proposes a PLC switch used for managing several
HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo PLC networks. Since all the HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo
devices support only one network key at a time, they cannot belong to several PLC
networks at the same time.
Moreover, several HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo PLC devices cannot be separated in
the same electrical network if they have the same network key. The only method to
separate them is to enter a different network key on each of them and a PLC device
Figure 11.7
Architecture example for a PLC network not connected to the corporate network
Security Parameters
Figure 11.8
Architecture of a PLC network connected to the corporate network by means of a
as a gateway capable of managing all these network keys. The 8950 switch from
AsokaUSA does this by being capable of managing up to 253 PLC network keys and
1,024 users at the same time. Information on this product is available at the following address:
Management of Several PLC Networks and Separation of PLC Clients in
HomePlug AV
Among the functionalities provided by HomePlug AV that are not available in HomePlug
1.0 and Turbo, the management of several network keys in the same device enables a PLC
network to configure the central CCo device with several network keys and each of the
other network PLC devices with a single network key. This implies that the PLC devices do
not see each other and only see the central device used as a level 2 gateway for the network
PLC components. So, an architecture of the FAI type can be created, in which each component of the network only has access to the Internet and not to the other components of the
electrical local area network. Because of its flexibility, this PLC network type can be modified to enable the network components to place on the same IP network while having
access to the Internet.
Configuring PLC Security
The security of a corporate network is essentially based on the collection of information and the monitoring used for determining the origin of an attack.
The important point of the PLC network security resides in the configuration of
a correct network key for the optimum encryption of the data exchanged over the
electrical network (in the case of HomePlug products, the NEK must be long and
combine uppercase and lowercase characters as well as 20-character numerals).
PLC for Businesses
According to the manufacturers of PLC devices and to the PLC technologies, it is
more or less possible to configure advanced security functionalities. Table 11.5 summarizes the main security functionalities of the various PLC technologies.
VLAN (Virtual LAN)
As its name indicates, a VLAN (virtual LAN) is used for defining virtual local area
networks. This technology, which has appeared for several years in Ethernet networks under the IEEE 802.1Q standard, enables the coexistence of several virtual
local area networks over the same Ethernet connection.
Most corporate switches propose this solution, which is to graft a PLC network
onto an existing Ethernet network. By creating two virtual local area networks, one
for the Ethernet network and the other specifically dedicated to PLC, this solution
results in the topology illustrated in Figure 11.8, in which both networks are separated by a firewall.
The PLC VLAN is based on the use of multiple network keys (NEK in the case of
HomePlug) or of networks from various technologies (a HomePlug network and a
DS2 network, for example). HomePlug supports the propagation of VLAN labels
that can be configured on the switches of the company Ethernet network.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
As we have seen for PLC home networks, the VPN (virtual private networks) represent the most reliable way to make a PLC corporate network secure. For this purpose, they are based on a client-server architecture in which the client is the station
connected to the PLC device and the server a dedicated computer.
Since this solution is detailed in Chapter 10, we do not go back to it here.
Although the project is now fixed, FreeSWAN is the reference VPN open source
solution. It is available at the following address: http://www.freeswan.org.
Installing and Configuring a PLC Repeater (Bridge)
As indicated before, the PLC signal propagates over the electrical wirings and is subjected to a significant attenuation due to the cable resistance and to the electromagnetic disturbances caused by the electrical devices connected to the electrical
Table 11.5
Security Functionalities of PLC Technologies
1.0, Turbo
NEK (DES 56 bits)
NEK, NMK, DAK (AES-128 bits + key rotation)
NEK, filtering by MAC address and IP address of the devices
connected to the PLC network, password on the HTTPS
configuration interface
Exchange of master-slave keys, filtering of MAC and IP addresses,
password on the HTTP configuration interface
Exchange of master-slave keys
Installing and Configuring a PLC Repeater (Bridge)
network. To remedy this attenuation problem and obtain an optimum and complete PLC signal coverage for a building, it may be useful to install devices called
“repeaters” in order to extend the PLC network to the areas of the electrical network where the PLC signal attenuation is too high.
This section gives a configuration example for a repeater device used for extending the installed PLC network. The concept of a repeater device is correlated with
that of a PLC network segment.
The architecture illustrated in Figure 11.9 includes the following PLC devices:
PLC1 and PLC2 are PLT300 Oxance products active in PLRP mode specific
to Oxance, which can be administered by means of a Web interface on the
Ethernet network interface.
PLC3 is a PLT320 Oxance product active in PRLP mode used for repeating
the PLC signal over the electrical network. For this purpose, it has two
HomePlug PLC interfaces but no Ethernet interface and can be administered
by means of the PLC1 or PLC2 Web interface.
PLC4 and PLC5 are usual passive HomePlug PLC products that cannot be
connected to PLC1 and PLC2 without a repetition system.
Figure 11.10 gives a logical representation of this network with the various network segments connected to each other in order to provide a continuous PLC network on the entire electrical network.
The PLT320 has an IP address of Once the configuration PC is
correctly adjusted to be on the same IP network (, for example), the
connection is possible using the network password (default value is 0 ex works).
Figure 11.9
Example of network architecture requiring a repeated PLC signal
PLC for Businesses
Figure 11.10
Logical representation of PLC repetition on two segments
To enable active PLC devices from Oxance to behave as a repeater (or bridge),
an option must be activated by connecting to the PLT320 via the interface available
on the PLT300 and by entering the MAC address of the PLT320 in the Source menu
of the Oxance menu bar. A drop-down list displays the identified devices. These
identifiers start with PLT and end with hexadecimal characters corresponding to the
end of the MAC address (MAC address equal to 0c000b0507e8 for the device identified by PLT_0507e8).
Therefore, it is important to correctly read the MAC address on the case of the
device to be configured and to spot it in the Source pull-down menu for connecting
to it and modifying its configuration parameters. In this case, we spot the PLT320
VoIP Under PLC
Since the PLC networks can be viewed as Ethernet networks in the electrical network, IP phones can be connected to it within the company. These phones are configured so that they can connect to a PABX (private automatic branch exchange) of
the IP type. This PABX recovers the SIP (session initiation protocol) flows from the
phones and is used as a gateway to the STN (i.e., the usual analog telephony network).
The royalty-free Asterisk tool developed by Michael Spencer, available at the
following address: http://www.asterisk.org, can be installed on the corporate network in order to manage the IP phone fleet on PLC. The Digium company launched
after the Asterisk project originated offers a range of services and products based on
Asterisk implementations.
The advantage of this solution is that it makes it possible to move the IP phones
on the entire electrical network. Figure 11.11 gives an architecture example.
Sample Implementation of PLC in a Hotel
Figure 11.11
Infrastructure of IP telephony over PLC network
Sample Implementation of PLC in a Hotel
A hotel wants to be fitted with a multi-purpose computer network for the various
services it proposes to its customers and decides to install a PLC network.
Figure 11.12 illustrates the hotel network architecture with two buildings supplied by a meter and two circuit breaker panels (one for each building).
Within these two buildings, the hotel manager wants the following services:
Building A:
• Internet access with data confidentiality in each bedroom.
• Internet access and connection of the restaurant cash registers to the hotel
information system.
Building B:
• Meeting room 1, which proposes an Ethernet local area network over PLC
in order to allow exchanges between connected computers and a protected
Internet access.
• Meeting room 2, which proposes the same services as meeting room 1 but
with compliance with the confidentiality of the data exchanged between
the networks of both rooms.
• Two rooms with public Internet access open to the hotel customers.
• Conference room with IP videoconferencing solution via the PLC network.
Network Implementation
Implementing this network requires the correct display of all the logical networks
connected to each other or not in the two buildings.
PLC for Businesses
Figure 11.12
Hotel PLC network architecture
The following elements must be taken into account in the network architecture,
as illustrated in Figure 11.13:
Place and configuration of the various PLC gateways and PLC signal injection;
Hotel Internet access;
Network keys of the various PLC networks, whether separated or not;
Network links between the buildings.
Figure 11.14 illustrates the overall logical architecture to be implemented. It
includes wired Ethernet sections, like the link between the two buildings, since we
want to maintain good performance in terms of throughput and a guaranteed service in order to avoid degrading the IP service in building B.
In order to separate the various PLC networks, it is important to place them on
different phases if this is possible (three-phase cables and a neutral cable in the case
of a three-phase installation) and especially to configure different network keys for
each desired service. In terms of security, the installation of a RADIUS server can be
envisaged in order to authenticate the PLC network clients.
This Figureure shows the connections of the PLC networks to the information
system, especially the Internet accesses in the hotel bedrooms and the configurations
with a NAT router for the meeting rooms used for protecting the customers’ PCs
and also the corporate network with respect to the administered PLC networks.
Figure 11.13
Complete architecture of the hotel PLC networks
Sample Implementation of PLC in a Hotel
PLC for Businesses
Figure 11.14
Overall logical architecture of the hotel PLC networks
Hotel Story PLC Networks
The hotel proposes to the customers to connect to the Internet in their bedrooms via
a lent PLC device to be connected to the bedroom outlets. This connection to the
Internet must take place in an authenticated, secured, and confidential manner. The
PLC devices available at the hotel reception are, therefore, preconfigured so that
they can connect to the PLC story network.
The technical problem raised is that HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo specify a limit of
15 devices for each PLC network behind a PLC gateway. Figure 11.15 illustrates the
drawing of a story with more than 15 PLC devices that are potentially connectable
to the hotel bedrooms corporate network with 22 bedrooms. The PLC signal is fed
either by injection from the circuit breaker panel of the building or by pulling an
Ethernet cable at each story and including a PLC gateway for each story if the distance is too high.
By using AsokaUSA 8950 products, PLC network extensions beyond the 15
device limit can be added with the creation of “segments,” i.e., PLC areas with 15
Sample Implementation of PLC in a Hotel
Figure 11.15
Managing the story PLC network with more than 15 devices
devices. For 22 bedrooms, it is just necessary to have two segments (one with 15 and
one with 7) to cover the story requirements.
Figure 11.16 illustrates the PLC architecture to be configured for the AsokaUSA
8950 PLC device used for managing these 3 segments with 15 PLC devices.
Internet Access with Confidentiality Between Computers
One of the disadvantages of the PLC HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo networks comes
from the fact that the medium is shared and that there may be network connections
between network PLC devices, and therefore between bedrooms, as is shown by the
case of the three bedrooms illustrated in Figure 11.17.
However, the data confidentiality can be ensured with the PlugLAN 8950
devices from AsokaUSA used for establishing blocking rules between the computers
of the PLC network.
Let us suppose that the bedroom network is in These rules are
configured using the HTTP interface by means of the Security menu by selecting the
Data filtering submenu and by ticking the Edit box. The new filtering rule must of
course indicate the source and destination IP addresses of all the stations to be filtered.
The rule to be implemented must block the bidirectional IP traffic of any computer from network to any other computer of the same network.
An additional rule is necessary to authorize any bidirectional traffic to the outside
PLC for Businesses
Figure 11.16
Story network architecture with several PLC segments
Configuring a DHCP Client Under Linux
Finding Linux systems in corporate networks, whether on servers or client stations,
is more and more frequent. Therefore, it is important for the administrators of professional networks to know how to configure a DHCP client under Linux.
Before starting the configuration of the DHCP client, it should be ensured that
the Ethernet board runs under Linux. If this is not the case, drivers must be installed
for this board.
Under Linux, there are two widespread DHCP clients: dhclient and pump,
which are available in all Linux distributions.
A DHCP client can be configured manually by entering dhclient eth0 or pump
eth0, depending on the client concerned, with eth0 being the network interface, or
automatically, by modifying the /etc/pcmcia/networks.opts file.
As in the case of Windows, just enter ifconfig eth0 to know the status of the
board parameters and to know if this board is actually configured. If the board has
not been configured by the DHCP server, no IP address appears:
# ifconfig eth0
Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:02:2D:4C:05:B8
inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
RX packets:1 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
Interrupt:3 Base address:0x100
Configuring a DHCP Client Under Linux
Figure 11.17
Internet access with confidentiality between computers
Configuring a DHCP/NAT Server
Most Linux distributions propose a DHCP server called dhcpd.
The configuration of the DHCP server just requires the creation of a dhcpd.conf
configuration file which will be placed in the directory.
Here is an example of dhcpd.conf file:
subnet netmask {
option routers;
option domain-name-servers;
default-lease-time 1000
max-lease-time 3600
Subnet is used for defining the network address used by IP addresses.
Netmask defines the subnet mask.
Range defines the address range given by the dhcpd server.
Option routers defines the IP address of the default gateway.
Option domain-name-servers defines the DNS address.
Default-lease-time defines the default lease time, in this case 1,000 seconds.
Max-lease-time defines the maximum lease time.
The dhcpd server can be started whenever the Internet gateway is switched on
by entering the following line:
# dhcpd eth0
where eth0 is the Ethernet interface connected to the gateway.
PLC for Businesses
It can also be started automatically by creating a script in the /etc/rc directory
and by incorporating the following command:
/usr/sbin/dhcpd eth0
NAT (Network Address Translation)
NAT is a technique used for connecting several computers to the Internet on the
same IP address. NAT has been and still is widely used for compensating for the
small number of available IP addresses.
Let us suppose a PLC network in which a PLC modem-router is connected to the
Internet, as illustrated in Figure 11.18.
The network computers can only gain access to the Internet if the Internet
modem or another entity in the network incorporates NAT routing functions and is
connected to the Internet. Most of them incorporate the NAT.
The NAT routing makes it possible to use only one routable address over the
Internet for a group of computers having non-routable, fixed private addresses.
When a computer sends data not intended for the local area network, the NAT
router—the Internet modem in this case—replaces the IP address of the sender by the
connection IP address given by the Internet access provider (@net on the figure). At
the same time, the Internet modem writes the connection information (IP address of
the sender, protocol used) to a translation table.
When the Internet modem receives data from the Internet, it checks the data
receiver in its translation table by comparing the type of received data with the information contained in the table. Once the receiver is found, the IP @net address is
replaced by that of the receiver. In this way, all the network computers use the same
IP address for gaining access to the Internet.
The NAT can filter the incoming packets and avoid external attacks with this
addressing scheme. If the connection is not initiated by the computers, the external
packets cannot be processed by the NAT router.
NAT Configuration
Unlike the DHCP server, the NAT depends on the kernel used, 2.2 or 2.4/2.6. In
both cases, and as for the DHCP server, it is possible either to start the NAT manu-
Figure 11.18
PLC network connected to the Internet
Configuring a DHCP Client Under Linux
ally after having switched on the gateway, or to write a script in the /etc/rc directory
in order to automatize the NAT execution when starting the gateway.
Irrespective of the kernel used, the /etc/network/options file must first be modified using the vi command, for example, and modifying the ip_forward=no line to
For the 2.2 kernels, the ipchains command is used for managing the NAT:
/sbin/ipchains –A forward –i ppp0 –s –j MASQ
ppp0 is the interface connected to the Internet.
For the 2.4 and 2.6 kernels, the iptables command must be used:
/sbin/iptables –t nat –A POSTROUTING –o ppp0 –s –j
ppp0 is the interface connected to the Internet.
As indicated before, the PLC network can be viewed as a level 2 infrastructure
(Ethernet) used for connecting the various IP terminals between themselves. The IP
configuration of the devices connected to this network is therefore that usually
found in all the IP networks (IP addressing, DHCP, and NAT functionalities, and so
PLC for Communities
During the last years, high throughput Internet accesses proposed by Internet access
providers have spectacularly developed, providing both higher throughputs and
new media to reach an increasing number of customers (telephone cable, TV cable,
radio, and so forth).
Within this framework, and more especially in some countries throughout the
world, the electrical network seems to be promising to convey the Internet signal as
close as possible to the terminals wanting to connect by means of all the outlets of a
building or apartment.
Using the public electrical network as the communication medium, and especially as the medium for the broadcasting of the Internet signal to the final customers has the obvious advantage that the electrical network is present everywhere.
However, using this medium first of all designed for conveying and distributing the
electrical signal as the telecommunications medium requires some precautions.
This chapter details the constraints and the chosen devices used for implementing a PLC network up to each user of the electrical network of a community. The
installation of this type of infrastructure has already been implemented by some
telecommunications operators.
Electrical Networks for Communities
As we have seen in the preceding chapters, the electrical networks in the broad sense
can be considered as several subnets connected to each other with various voltage
levels, various responsibilities, various managers, and various security levels.
As a first example, these subnets are regulated in the USA by the FERC and in
France by the CRE (Commission de régulation de l’électricité) from the EHV
(extra-high voltage) lines running across the country to connect the major electricity
production sites to the various communities to the outlets in the buildings (houses,
companies, and so forth) in order to supply the electrical devices that we use every
Figure 12.1 diagrammatically represents these various subnets, with their
respective voltage levels and the associated line types, as well as their connection to
the private electrical network downstream of the meter used for electrically connecting a building to the public network. The network of a community extends
from the HV/MV transformer to the meters of the community buildings.
PLC for Communities
Figure 12.1
Architecture of electrical subnets
The various subnets of the electrical network partly differ by the network
owner, on the one hand (cables, pylons, infrastructure devices, and so forth), which
is in general the community for HTA electrical networks, and by the network operator, on the other hand, i.e. the one that uses, supplies, services, and maintains the
network and the infrastructure devices forming it, generally an electrical utility for
LV electrical networks.
Figure 12.2 illustrates this sharing of responsibilities for an LV network for the
connection of the private electrical network to the public electrical network represented by the meter.
It is important to know this sharing of responsibilities should a PLC network be
deployed, since the PLC devices must be installed on the various parts of the electrical network to allow PLC signal propagation from the IP network connection point
to the outlets of the public electricity network users.
Electrical Network Operators
For an electrical network operator, whether local or national, or even international,
which has electrical networks in some geographical locations only or distributed all
over the country, the installation of a PLC network makes it a telecommunications
operator like an Internet access provider for Internet accesses. This implies that it
takes on the duties of a telecommunications network installer and manager within
Figure 12.2
Sharing of responsibilities for an electrical distribution network
Electrical Networks for Communities
the framework of an electrical network that has safety rules different from those of
twisted pair, cable TV, or optical fiber networks.
For electrical utilities managing the local electrical networks (village communities, small towns, built-up areas, commune syndicates, and so forth), the PLC can
represent the best technology to connect the local authorities located in white areas
to the Internet.
The latest deployments of PLC networks, whether experimental or operational,
have demonstrated that this technology could efficiently help the communities to
provide Internet access to homes that could benefit from Internet access. These
deployments are often based on local telecommunications operators by means of
network architectures using the best of each currently available technology (BLR,
Wi-Fi, PLC, mesh network, and so forth).
Sometimes, the electrical utility prefer to confine itself to the electrical power
production, transport, and distribution businesses with which it is familiar, and not
to place itself as a potential telecommunications operator for the thirty million or so
meters connected to its network. Moreover, this decision could be based on the
local political directives concerning the specialization principle of each of the electrical utilities and electrical grid systems.
Topology of Electrical Networks
Several construction rules govern the implementation of a “distribution” electrical
network, i.e., connected to the major high voltage networks, or HV, supplying the
buildings of a community by providing electricity to the subscribers’ meters.
First, a distinction can be made between three types of MV and LV electrical
networks according to the building density and the geographical area under consideration (see Figure 12.3): rural, semiurban, and urban.
The specificities of these electrical networks relate to the following elements:
Figure 12.3
MV and LV electrical networks
PLC for Communities
Network topology;
Distance between pylons;
Distance between the transformer and the various meters that it supplies;
Number of meters behind a MV/LV distribution transformer.
For each of these networks, three MV electrical network topologies are possible:
star, ring, or mesh topologies. The most widespread topology is the mesh topology,
which has the advantage of protecting the entire electrical network against possible
electrical defects at some points of the network. If a defect, like a short circuit, weakens the network at a point, other electrical lines take over since the topology provides backup links due to meshing. No point of the electrical network is supplied by
a single electrical line.
Topology of MV Networks
In rural areas, the star topology of the “tree” type is widespread. In semiurban areas,
star topologies of the “tree” type and ring topologies are found with several high
voltage network connection points.
In dense urban areas, the widespread topology is the mesh topology, but it operates as an energized star configuration. The mesh links are backup links should one
of the main links be cut.
Figures 12.4 to 12.6 illustrate these various MV network topologies.
Topology of LV Networks
In most countries, the topology of LV electrical networks is a star topology of the
tree type allowing links in this way by meshing between certain branches of the electrical network. However, these mesh links are still too rare to define the network
topology as an actual mesh.
Figure 12.4
Star topology
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
Figure 12.5
Ring topology
Figure 12.6
Mesh topology
The electrical network construction rules determine the PLC engineering to be
implemented to obtain the best coverage and the best performance of the IP network
to the subscribers and the outlets of the community buildings.
Figure 12.7 illustrates an electrical network representative of a community from
the MV/LV transformer to the various branches of the LV (low voltage) network
supplying the subscribers’ meters.
If we take a closer look at the topology and the electrical devices of a power line
distribution system in a dense urban environment (dwelling meters supply, for
example), we find again the situation illustrated in Figure 12.8. This very complete
Figureure shows the various components of the electrical network from the local
electrical substation to the meter in an apartment. The PLC devices used for broadcasting the data signal from the electrical substation to the slave PLC device in the
apartment are superimposed on this electrical installation.
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
Various issues must be considered when installing a PLC network for a community.
To begin with, a project team is set up, with a contracting authority (in this case, the
community defining the requirements in terms of Internet access and IP network in
order to prepare the specifications) and a prime contractor defining the engineering
PLC for Communities
Figure 12.7
Example of a power line distribution system for a community
and the PLC infrastructure in collaboration with the operational teams of the local
electrical utility.
The prime contractor team consists of electrical engineers for compliance with
the safety rules and of telecom/network engineers for the use of the electrical infrastructure and the implementation of Internet services satisfying the residents’
PLC’s Position Within the Network Architecture
The telecommunications networks can be considered as a large pyramid of networks
comprising the following subnets (from top to bottom):
Very large networks. Ensure very high throughput connections between towns
and continents, usually using optical fiber, like Ebone or Europanet in Europe,
Eassy for East Africa, SAT-3/WASC for the western part, and SEA-ME-WE-3
(from North Africa to India). Such network types cannot be built using PLC
Inter-POP backbones. Connect the various very high throughput IP points of
presence to the DataCenters of large cities. These optical fiber networks can be
located between cities or in built-up areas. These backbones connect the points
of presence to the exchanges (telephone exchange, cable TV, Satellite, WiMax,
BLR, mesh, and so forth) of the Internet access providers. For the time being,
PLC technologies cannot be used for building this type of network, but the
throughputs provided by HomePlug AV and HomePlug BPL can be used for
forming parts of this type of network in some cases.
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
Figure 12.8
Topology and electrical devices in a building dense urban area
Distribution networks. Used for connecting the exchanges of the Internet
access providers and the subscribers to the Internet and to IP networks in general. These networks consists of all the media that can be used to reach the
subscribers located at a few kilometers of the Internet access providers’
exchanges. PLC technologies are undeniably ideal for distribution networks
insofar as the topology of the electrical networks makes it possible to reach all
the buildings and potentially each outlet of a community building.
Local area networks (LAN or interbuilding network). Usually Ethernet or
Wi-Fi, they are likely to be replaced or completed by the PLC technology with
non-negligible advantages (throughput, security, easy deployment, pervasive
presence of outlets).
The issue with a community illustrated in this chapter is to build a distribution
network using PLC technologies or according to a hybrid architecture combining
several technologies making it possible to provide a high throughput Internet access
to all the buildings of the community.
Figure 12.9 illustrates this telecommunications networks pyramid in which
PLC technologies can place themselves at the level of LAN and distribution networks in the case of communities.
PLC for Communities
POP = Point of Presence
(very high throughput IP point
of presence)
Figure 12.9
Telecommunications networks pyramid
Constraints of the Electrical Network for PLC Architecture
If the electrical network of a country supposedly not interconnected to its neighbors
is examined, the main constraints influencing the architecture of a PLC network in a
low voltage electrical network are the following:
Geographical area. The network has different characteristics in a residential
environment, in a corporate environment (generally with a higher meter density), or in an industrial environment (generally more demanding in terms of
quality of service).
Number of meters per low voltage network. High density difference between
rural areas and dense office buildings areas.
Cable lengths. Usually, the cable length to reach the subscribers varies from
50m (dense urban environment) to 300m (low density rural environment).
Network topology. An electrical network consists of electrical wirings connecting the network transformers to the delivery points, the number of which
varies according to the area under consideration.
However, it is important to be aware of the differences concerning the topology
of the existing electrical networks in various countries, which implies new PLC constraints and can delete other constraints.
For example, in the USA, the housing outside big cities is very scattered and only
a few meters are connected to a MV/LV transformer, whereas in France there are
about 200 meters on average. In the case of the USA, it is understandable that the
“transformer remoteness and number of customers sharing the resource” parameter
is not as important as in Europe.
PLC Architecture
Using PLC technologies as a distribution network for a community in order to provide an Internet access requires a PLC network architecture different from the archi-
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
tecture that we have seen in Chapters 10 and 11 dedicated to home and corporate
PLC networks.
The topology of the low voltage HTA electrical network of the community from
the MV/LV transformer to the various building meters is a star topology. In addition, the distribution network requires an isolation between customers of the PLC
network in order to prevent any interception of the data communications circulating between a PLC network customer and the Internet.
This implies a PLC architecture of the master-slave type in which the network
Monitors, administers, and supervises the various network devices;
Ensures the security and the confidentiality of the connections to the Internet
and between each customer of the PLC network;
Ensures the gateway functionality to other IP networks, and, more especially
to the IP transit point available in the community (satellite, IP point of presence, optical fiber, BLR, WiMax, Mesh, and so forth).
Figure 12.10 illustrates an example of PLC architecture in a community from
the MV/LV transformer to the various branches of the star network supplying the
community buildings with electricity.
The key points of this architecture are the following:
residence hall
Figure 12.10
PLC architecture example for a community
PLC for Communities
Figure 12.11
Example of connection for Eichhoff PLC injector
PLC gateway used for the connection to other IP networks.
PLC injectors used in the public electrical network installations as illustrated
in Figure 12.11.
PLC repeaters used for providing a continuous PLC signal over the entire cable
length up to the subscriber, which can reach 200 to 300m. The advantage of
the PLC network for local authorities is that the electrical network is much less
subject to disturbance than a home or corporate network.
Gateway located in the electrical substation where the MV/LV or HV/MV
transformer is, which is used for injecting the PLC signal at the node of the star
topology of the public electrical network.
This architecture of the PLC technology distribution network is in the end rather
simple and generally without surprises, unlike that of a home or corporate network,
for which the drawings of the electrical network are often lacking, which requires
tests prior to installation.
In the case of the community network, the electrical utility has all the information concerning the electrical network (type of cables, cable length, number of subscribers on each branch of the electrical network, type of transformer, suitable
position of the repeaters, etc.).
Issues in Electrical Networks
Installing a telecommunications device on a public electrical network is accompanied by a number of safety rules that must be complied with by all the parties intervening on the electrical network devices, in particular the operators and the
electrical utility technical agents.
As far as the PLC networks are concerned, these rules are the following:
Perfect isolation of the coupling and repetition devices;
PLC device maintenance transparent to the operation of the electrical network;
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
Intervention on PLC devices by authorized people.
The authorizations for interventions on an electrical network (deenergized,
close or energized) are obtained via specific trainings and approvals by ad hoc bodies.
Table 12.1 lists the various authorizations for the various classes of technical
parties intervening on an electrical network according to the work to be carried out.
The installation of telecommunications devices and more generally of electrical
devices on the infrastructure of a public electrical network also raises a number of
issues, in particular the following:
Power supply of the PLC devices (installation of a power supply meter, billing
of the PLC device power supply, and so forth).
Nondisturbed operation of the electrical network and of its controlling
Possible identification of the low throughput PLC networks existing on the
electrical network of the community electrical utility and of the location of
these devices (electrical substation, pylon, and so forth).
Possible coexistence of community PLC networks and of private home or corporate PLC networks. This coexistence between PLC networks and therefore
between PLC technologies will be examined further in Chapter 13, which is
dedicated to hybrid networks.
Choosing Equipment and Technologies
The choice of the PLC devices for a community network is particularly important
insofar as the master-slave architecture required by this type of network makes it
necessary to use a PLC technology incompatible with other technologies.
The Opera (Open PLC Research Alliance) project did not result in the development of a single PLC standard. Since the HomePlug alliance has not yet finalized in
June 2008 the HomePlug BPL (Broadband PowerLine) version dedicated to the PLC
networks of communities, the PLC technologies for the networks of communities
are specific to each manufacturer, even if some of them use HomePlug as a basis to
propose PLC products for the distribution networks of communities.
Therefore, it is important to compare the various technologies capable of satisfying the requirements of a master-slave architecture on the public electrical network. For this purpose, Table 12.2 summarizes the advantages and disadvantages
of each PLC technology for a distribution network.
Table 12.1
Electrical Authorizations
Executing electrician
Work manager
PLC for Communities
Table 12.2
Advantages and Disadvantages of PLC Technologies for a Distribution Network
–CuPLUS master
–RpPLUS repeater
–NtPLUS slave
–Proven technology in various
PLC projects
–Good range of the PLC signal
–Supervision tool (NmPLUS)
–Technology a bit
–Head-end master
–CPE slave
–Possible advanced configuration
(notching, power spectral density,
and so forth)
–Strong engineering support
–SPiDMonitor tool for administration/
–224-Mbit/s throughput at PHY level
–Few deployments in
–Stable throughput over public networks
–HE master
–Simple management interface by HTTP
–Slave of the apartment
–Not compatible
–OMS-PLC tool for administration/
building type HG
with HomePlug
–Slave of the CPE
–Product integration by Corinex
apartment type
equipment vendor
–Easy Telnet interface
–Easy software update
–Low throughput
–Obsolete technology
The information in this table is only given as an indication but it should enable
designers to choose the PLC technology best suited to the community specifications.
Supervision of the PLC Distribution Network
In the same manner as corporate PLC networks, the PLC distribution networks
require a system for the supervision of the infrastructure devices.
The architecture of a PLC distribution network includes the following elements:
PLC distribution network consisting of PLC devices in the master-slave mode
and using the public electrical network up to the final subscriber.
Connection of the PLC distribution network to other Internet constituent IP
networks (via “peering” agreements) or directly to the Internet via an Internet
access provider.
NOC (Network Operation Center), central station where the stations supervising the various PLC distribution networks are grouped; these are used for
checking the status of the network constituent PLC devices by means in particular of GPS mapping functionalities used for giving the position of each
Figure 12.12 illustrates an example of PLC distribution network architecture
implementing VPN tunnels connecting the NOC to the PLC gateways existing in the
electrical substations with links dedicated to the supervision of the network head
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
Figure 12.12
PLC distribution network supervision architecture
All the infrastructure devices can be supervised with the SNMP or TR-069 protocols using tools used for retrieving information (throughputs, status of the interfaces, temperatures, binary error rate, and so forth) and to trigger threshold alarms.
The HP OpenView tool, for example, is used for centralizing the fed back SNMP
For the purely PLC parameters of the network devices, it is necessary to use
tools specific to each deployed technology. For example, the DS2 products have the
OMS-PLC tool developed by the Dynamic Consulting International company used
for managing the supervision of a DS2 technology distribution network.
Configuring the Network
As we have seen, various technologies can be used to build a PLC distribution network; it is up to the prime contractor team to choose the technology best suited to
the architecture requirements.
The example of a complete architecture for distribution network of a community illustrated in Figure 12.13 includes the following elements:
IP networks upstream of the PLC network with the DataCenter, which groups
authentication, address, and name servers; and the NOC, which deals with
the supervision and administration of remote networks, like PLC distribution
PLC for Communities
Figure 12.13
PLC distribution network architecture example
PLC distribution network, with the master PLC gateway or gateways at the
electrical substation (hosting the MV/LV transformer, the repeaters and the
slave PLC devices (CPE)). The slave devices connect to the master device and
are accessible via their IP addresses, which are in a private IP addressing plane
different from that of public IP addresses delivered to the community subscribers.
PLC injectors, which are used for connecting the PLC devices to the LV or MV
public electrical networks at the electrical substation or to a point of an electrical pylon close to the final subscribers.
Since the configuration of all the devices for all the technologies cannot, of
course, be given, we merely indicate the main parameters to be configured for each
type of device of the distribution network infrastructure in Table 12.3.
GPS Position of Distribution Network Infrastructure PLC Devices
To optimize the supervision and the management of maintenance interventions on devices
of the electrical network, each device can be spotted with its GPS position. This GPS position is also used for easily positioning the architecture components on a mapping available
in the NOC (Network Operation Center) supervision tools.
Some products are used for configuring this position for each device via the HTTP
interface of the distribution network master device, as illustrated by Figure 12.14.
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
Table 12.3 Parameters to Be Configured for Each Type of Device of the PLC Infrastructure of the
Distribution Network
–Internet connection parameters
–List of authorized slave devices
–Filtering of MAC and IP addresses
–Confidentiality of slave devices between themselves
–Configuration of authentication servers (RADIUS, PPP, and so forth)
–NAT and firewall for management interfaces
–Segmentation of PLC network parts
–PLC network keys
–Physical or logical repetition
–PLC network keys
–Authentication to the master device
–IP PCL addressing for management/supervision
–Management of priorities (QoS) and IP service classes (voice, data, video)
For this purpose, it is necessary to connect to the HTTP configuration interface of the
products via VPN tunnels between the NOC and the PLC infrastructure devices used for
viewing the NOC and the PLC network in the same local area network with a common
addressing plane. For example, in Figure 12.14, the supervision station is in
and the PLC network is in
Once connected to the interface, as illustrated in Figure 12.15, just select the desired
device in the Source menu of the menu bar (slave devices or repeaters; these devices are
spotted with their MAC address at the interface level).
Examples of Small, Medium, and Large-Scale PLC Networks
Several deployments of PLC networks over the electrical networks of communities
have been experimented with in the last years.
These developments have enabled operators’ research and development centers
to carry out in situ tests on their technology on real network and subscriber cases.
Communities supported by alternative operators, electrical utilities, and so forth
have then prepared the first Internet subscription offers via PLC.
Other advances were made in the United States, in Spain, and in Switzerland
where distribution PLC networks were deployed in entire cities. Lastly, China has
deployed PLC networks with the FibrLink operator for tens of thousands of people
living in new buildings.
The recent takeover of Current Technologies by Google shows that, for some
major Internet players, the PLC networks represent a distribution technology with
promising developments.
Small-Scale PLC Networks
Within the framework of its missions, the EDF research and development department deployed a PLC distribution network in 2002 in the commune of Courbevoie
PLC for Communities
Figure 12.14 PLC device configuration architecture for GPS positioning of the distribution
network devices
(France), with the support of the Tiscali Internet access provider for the Internet connection.
This distribution network was intended to test the quality of an Internet access
over the EDF low voltage distribution network in a dense urban environment (star
electrical network topology of the tree type).
The architecture of this infrastructure consisted of a very high throughput
Internet access with an optical fiber at the local electrical substation that supplied
between 100 and 200 EDF subscribers.
At the electrical substation, the PLC devices were used for injecting the PLC signal in the electrical wirings starting from the transformer and serving the apartments
of the various local buildings. These electrical substation PLC devices were masters.
The slave PLC devices connected to the PLC network were located in the apartments. They had the suitable logical authorizations to recover the Internet signal
originating from the Tiscali Internet access provider. This Internet access provider
managed the users’ authentications and the assignment of IP addresses to each customer of the PLC distribution network.
Medium-Scale PLC Networks
Within the framework of the digital gap reduction policy concerning high throughput Internet access in a rural environment, the Seine-et-Marne regional council
(France) has deployed satellite, PLC, and Wi-Fi network technologies in the communes of Villeneuve-Saint-Denis and Villeneuve-le-Comte.
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
The deployment of PLC distribution networks has enabled the introduction of
high throughput in “white” areas not served by ADSL offers. So, these two communes could have access to high throughput Internet from a point of presence close
to the communes via a complete PLC architecture.
Large-Scale PLC Networks
Outside France, large-scale PLC distribution networks have been deployed in Spain
(Saragossa and Barcelona) by the DS2 company and in the United States by Current
Technologies, which has deployed PLC networks in the states of Maryland and
Texas for a 4-Mbit/s symmetrical Internet access offer potentially aimed at two million people.
Fribourg (Switzerland) was among the first cities to deploy a PLC distribution
network with the Ascom technology in 2001 with the Swisscom Internet access provider.
In France, one of the major PLC distribution network projects was supported
by Sipperec, an administrative collectivity in the energy and communications field
in the Île-de-France department.
Example of Deployed PLC Networks
Table 12.4 gives a wide range of examples of current and past PLC deployments
Another European example is located in Germany with the company PPC.
In Germany around 10,000 end users are already using commercial Internet services over LV-PLC. Eighty-five percent of the end customers are using the PLC technology of Power Plus Communications AG (PPC). This technology is based on the
PLC System of Main.net Ltd. (Israel). PPC is the PLC system integrator for Powerline equipment and on March 2005 installed, for a number of operators, several
commercial and test installations all over Germany (103 MV PLC links).
In Germany, medium voltage powerline will be used in most cases as the backbone in the LV PLC network for substations, which have no direct connection to the
fiber backbone.
Eighty percent of the lines are used as the backbone for an installed LV PLC system and 20% as rented or leased lines for professional industrial customers. One
hundred and one of the total lines are realized with different types of capacitive coupling devices of PPC. In two test installations, inductive couplers of Eichhoff are
PPC has equipped a wide spectrum of MV cells with PLC equipment. The MV
cells diversify in voltage range and insulation of the cell itself. The voltage range varied from 6 to 30 kV. Figure 12.16 shows typical MV PLC installations in Germany
for air and gas insulated (SF6) cells equipped with capacitive couplers.
Figure 12.17 shows another typical capacitive coupling device installation on
an MV cell.
The maximum throughput is 3 to 5 Mbit/s, depending on line condition in the
PPC deployment in Germany.
PLC for Communities
Table 12.4 Examples of Large-Scale PLC Networks Deployments Worldwide
United States
Cap Girardeau, MO
United States
Current Technologies
HomePlug 1.0
Turbo, AV technology
Low bit rate applications
Based on ASCOM Technologies in the
Ellwangen area
Based on DS2 technologies
Complementary to the Wi-Fi
Based on the MECELEC network
Main.net technology
Teleservice applications
Based on the DS2 technologies
Russia (Moscow,
& Krasnodar)
Broadband Internet access, telephone,
and television services for 35,000
Hungary (Budapest) 23Vnet
High speed broadband test on 100+
Electrical operators
Tests in several cities
Tests in schools, universities, hospitals
Egypt (Alexandria,
Fayed, Tanta)
Engineering Office
Automatic Meter Reading on 70,000
for Integrated Projects,
South Africa
Internet Access
Broadband internet access for 5,000
50k test users
In-house applications with NTT
As far as the United States is concerned, a good example is given by Current
In the USA, Current Technology deployed at the end of 2006, a BPL offer with
TXU aimed at two million potential customers: this is a symmetrical 4 Mbits/s offer
with VoIP for 45€ (see Figure 12.18).
The installation on a pylon consists of a device based on the HomePlug (1.0 or
Turbo) product. The brand of the HomePlug products used by Current is
The installation is fitted with capacitive couplers, cut-off breakers, and fuses.
As far as the “BPL gateway” is concerned, it comprises a coaxial input (or optical fibers) and has router functions (QoS of VoIP flows + Authentication [IP filter] +
PLC gateway).
HomePlug Turbo allows several keys (up to 24) and therefore allows the creation of several PLC logical networks.
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
Figure 12.15
APPC PLC deployment architecture (Source CIGRE)
Figure 12.16
Example of capacitive coupling in air insulated MV cells (Source CIGRE)
Current Technologies has developed a repeater-amplifier product at the level of
the physical layer that is used for reamplifying the PLC signal over the MV and LV
lines without losing the bandwidth, like in the case of PLC repeaters operating on
the MAC layer.
Current Technologies proposes to use the Internet access via PLC with the following configuration, for example:
Bedroom: IP camera with IP flow from one room to another one;
Living room: streaming video of an MPEG 4 flow (Windows Media 9 −
1.5Mbits/s encoder) from a video server;
Office: PC + IP printer + Switch + Customer PLC devices.
PLC for Communities
Figure 12.17
Example of capacitive coupling in gas insulated MV cells (Source CIGRE)
Figure 12.18
Installation of a Current PLC gateway on a pylon (source Michel Goldberg)
Current proposes a system for collecting meter information over the MV and LV
network. This information relates to the various electrical parameters available on
the network (kVA, kWh, leakage currents, and so forth) via an HTTPS centralized
interface at the disposal of the utilities.
This interface is used for displaying information on:
A transformer (transformer load, historical report, and so forth);
A meter (historical report, voltage, defaults, and so forth).
Implementation of a Communitywide PLC Network
The interface can be operated with the GIS (Geographical Information Systems)
of the utility. Therefore, the data of a transformer or meter can be displayed from
the map of the area in question via this interface. The interface is also used for displaying defects on the electrical network according to the alarms fed back by the
meters and the measuring instruments.
For Current Technology PLC/BPL is not the core business of the utilities and
orients its business policy to the utilities by alleging that BPL can represent a source
of income enabling the implementation of services of the AMR type (automatic
meter reading and “intelligent powerGrid”).
Hybrid PLC
The recent developments of computer communication media have multiplied the
network media (wired Ethernet, Wi-Fi, PLC, optical fiber, cable TV, and so forth)
providing the suitable throughputs, coverage, and transit time to new generation
Since none of these media offers by itself the ideal capacities, hybrid networks
appeared in order to make the best use of these technologies. However, a good
knowledge of them is necessary in order to optimize the architecture and the configuration of these new networks.
Nowadays, the wired Ethernet networks are those that are the most expensive,
in particular because of the wiring-related work. However, they are still those providing the best performance and a guaranteed service close to 100%. When such
networks cannot be built, it can turn out to be interesting to use complementary
technologies as a basis.
This chapter aims at highlighting the interest of the current PLC technologies
compared with other network technologies. With the emergence of the HomePlug
AV specification, the PLC technologies add to the PLC advantages (easy deployment, low cost, open-endedness, security) and global performance capable of competing with these other technologies.
Coexistence of Multiple Networks
The coexistence of network technologies, whether wired or wireless, creates disturbance. For example, the propagation of PLC signals over the electrical wirings emits
an electromagnetic field likely to disturb not only the other communication systems,
like radio networks, but also the various PLC technologies themselves.
Since one of the major developments with regard to the network coexistence is
precisely the juxtaposition of PLC and Wi-Fi, it is important to understand and control these disturbances.
Hybrid PLC
PLC Technologies Between Themselves
As we have seen throughout this book, there is no IEEE PLC standard as yet. As a
result, a number of PLC technologies coexist on the public and private electrical networks.
Figure 13.1 illustrates a house in which the three following PLC technologies
PLC community distribution to provide an access to the Internet;
LAN for the broadcasting of video streams from the InternetBox to PLC
devices close to the video terminals scattered in the house;
LAN for the broadcasting of the IP telephone signal and house automation
(remote controls, sensor information, and so forth) and domestic signals (baby
phones, video surveillance, and so forth) in the house.
Since these three technologies are high-throughput technologies, all of them
operate in the 2 to 30 MHz frequency band, but with distinct techniques for gaining
access to the medium and using the frequency band. Without any interoperability
standard, these PLC technologies were concurrently developed without regard for
their mutual coexistence.
The CEPCA (Consumer Electronics Powerline Communication Alliance) is currently working on the development of a guide on interoperability between PLC technologies that should allow optimized use of this frequency band.
CEPCA and Interoperability of PLC Technologies
Awaiting a PLC standard, the CEPCA has prepared a technical proposal in order to manage
the coexistence of PLC technologies. This proposal is based on a CDCF (commonly distributed coordination function) used for managing the time and frequency spaces in a distributed way between the various technologies.
This distribution is based on the following elements:
Figure 13.1
Coexistence of PLC technologies over the same electrical network
Coexistence of Multiple Networks
• Management of hybrid accesses between FDMA (frequency division multiple
access) and TDMA (time division multiple access);
• Management of the QoS by a TDMA time space system, like in HomePlug AV for
HD video applications.
As illustrated by Figure 13.2, these two principles should make it possible to avoid
mutual interference and optimize the use of the common communication medium.
The main problem relating to the coexistence of PLC technologies comes from
the fact that the use of the frequency band is not standardized. This results in a
reduced available bandwidth for each technology. Data communications are still
operational but in degraded, even highly degraded, modes that are detrimental to
the routing of the provided services to the upper layers (IP, TCP, and so forth) and
prevent the good operation of the applications.
In the same way as the presence of too many PLC devices on the same electrical
network must be avoided (limited to 16 devices in the HomePlug 1.0 and Turbo
specifications), it is necessary to avoid the implementation of several PLC technologies on the same electrical network (HomePlug, DS2, Spidcom, and so forth).
The CEPCA alliance proposals are close to those implemented in HomePlug
AV, which provides a mechanism for the coexistence of HomePlug 1.0, Turbo, and
AV networks with a TDMA time space allocation scheme (see Chapters 3 and 5).
Figure 13.3 diagrammatically illustrates this coexistence system, in which some
time periods are allocated to data exchanges between HomePlug 1.0 devices and
other periods to exchanges between the devices of other HomePlug specifications.
This type of intelligent management of the coexistence of devices from various
HomePlug technologies should be extended to other technologies with the expected
development of an IEEE standard.
As indicated in Table 13.1, the various HomePlug specification developments
always attempted to promote interoperability and therefore open-endedness of PLC
networks. On the other hand, the other PLC technologies are neither interoperable
with HomePlug nor between themselves, which highly restricts the open-endedness
of these networks.
Figure 13.2
Proposal for the management of mutual interference between PLC technologies
Hybrid PLC
Figure 13.3
Management of coexisting HomePlug PLC networks with the HomePlug AV specifi-
Table 13.1 Interoperability Between PLC Technologies
1.0, Turbo AV Oxance BPL
DS2 Spidcom
HomePlug 1.0, Turbo
DS2 AV200
Coexistence of PLC and Wi-Fi
There are no problems with coexisting PLC and Wi-Fi technologies since different
frequency bands are used, with PLC operating in the 1-MHz to 30-MHz frequency
band and the various IEEE 802.11 standards in the 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz frequency
In terms of architecture, there are no problems with the coexisting technologies
either, which makes it possible to use the best of both technologies. Therefore, many
PLC/Wi-Fi hybrid devices should appear to build architectures combining a PLC
backbone and IP distribution of the radio type with Wi-Fi.
The Lite-On company has already announced the imminent release of a
PLC/Wi-Fi device of the bulb type for a ceiling light socket. This device will make it
possible to use the electrical network that supplies the bulbs to convey the PLC signal while providing PLC functionalities and Wi-Fi access points to this new “intelligent” bulb generation.
Placing a Wi-Fi access point at the ceiling level for a room is ideal for optimum
radio coverage.
Figure 13.4 illustrates an example of PLC/Wi-Fi architecture with an Internet
access connected to a PLC gateway device broadcasting the PLC signal over the electrical network. This signal is recovered by PLC/Wi-Fi devices using their 802.11
radio interface to create Wi-Fi cells in the various rooms.
Coexistence of Multiple Networks
Figure 13.4
PLC/Wi-Fi hybrid architecture example
The NBG318S devices from Zyxel, illustrated in Figure 13.5, will be used to
illustrate the configuration of such an architecture.
Zyxel proposes a router including a device fitted with an Ethernet PLC interface
and a Wi-Fi interface with an outlet and an aerial for the IEEE 802.11 interface.
The configuration of this hybrid network requires access to the Wi-Fi device
parameters. These parameters are configured via an HTTP interface at the Wi-Fi
device level, as illustrated in Figure 13.6.
The address of the network configuration station is IP = in the
figure and the default address of the PLC/Wi-Fi device to be configured is All you have to do is connect the Ethernet supervision station to the
PLC device and open Internet Explorer at the address.
The window illustrated in Figure 13.6 is then displayed. The default password is
After the connection, the HTML page illustrated in Figure 13.6 is displayed
with the Wi-Fi access point default parameters. The security for this access point
must then be configured.
In the Wireless LAN submenu of the Network menu, it is important to change
the user name and the password for gaining access to the device administrator interface in order to avoid other people connected to the PLC network reaching the
Wi-Fi network configuration.
Hybrid PLC
Figure 13.5
Configuration of PLC/Wi-Fi devices
Figure 13.6
Connection to the PLC device used as a Wi-Fi access point
The next configuration step concerns the parameters specific to the Wi-Fi network and to its security. First, an SSID (i.e., a Wi-Fi network name) must be chosen
so that the clients wanting to connect recognize it. PLC Networks is chosen here as
illustrated in Figure 13.7.
A channel (from 1 to 13) can then be selected in the 2.4-GHz band.
Coexistence of Multiple Networks
Figure 13.7
Configuring the Wi-Fi access point properties
Choosing the IEEE 802.11 Mode
When the network is configured in the “802.11 Super G dynamic” mode, it is
important to make sure that all the 802.11 clients connecting to the network support this mode. If this is not the case, choosing the 802.11b or 802.11g modes supported by most current Wi-Fi terminals is preferable.
Once the 802.11 network mode is configured, we can proceed with the
parameterization of the Wi-Fi network security, which is one of the weaknesses of
Wi-Fi networks.
Insofar as the PLC network is made secure and physically difficult to access, a
satisfactory security level can be maintained for the entire hybrid network. In our
example, the Wireless Security submenu of the System Configuration menu is used
for choosing the WPA-PSK mode with encryption of the AES type key (however,
this mode must be supported by the client Wi-Fi boards, which is generally the case
with recent boards) by indicating the encryption phrase (in this case, PLC Networks, as illustrated in Figure 13.7).
The global configuration of the Wi-Fi network is over. We can proceed with the
configuration of the PLC network and of its parameters. As illustrated in Figure
13.8, the Homeplug submenu of the Network menu is used for gaining access to a
page for configuring the HomePlug AV PLC parameters like the network name:
Public (default key with unchanged value HomePlugAV) or Private by configuring a
new NEK key for the PLC logical network consisting of this device and other PLC
devices existing on the electrical network.
Hybrid PLC
Figure 13.8
Configuring the parameters of the HomePlug AV PLC network
The network PLC devices must also be named in order to have a better readability of the network with respect to the MAC addresses of each device. In this case, the
default name of the associated device is Example 1. Figure 13.8 shows the association of a new device and Figure 13.9 indicates the result of this association when the
HTML page is refreshed.
Once all the PLC devices are associated with the HomePlug AV network, it is
possible to choose the routing mode between the Wi-Fi and PLC interfaces. This
interface acts as a gateway for the other one, which allows bridging between these
two technologies.
Finally, the WAN interface used for the connection to the Internet gateway or to
a router for access to another IP network from this subnet, as illustrated in Figure
13.10, can be chosen.
This configuration example shows that a PLC/Wi-Fi hybrid network architecture including integrated devices allows the easy and quick deployment of a network
with optimum performance using the electrical network as the Ethernet backbone
and the PLC/Wi-Fi devices on outlets as the distribution network with complete
radio coverage.
In this way, the coexistence of PLC and Wi-Fi is both logical and natural to provide mobility in a domestic as well as professional background.
Coexistence of Multiple Networks
Figure 13.9
Figure 13.10
Confirmed association of a new PLC device on the network
Configuring the WAN interface choice
Hybrid PLC
Coexistence of PLC and Wired Ethernet
The coexistence of PLC and wired networks (Ethernet cable, optical fiber, cable TV,
telephone cable, and so forth) does not generate disturbances since all the frequency
bands used by these technologies are outside of the PLC frequency bands.
Only the VDSL distribution technology, which will allow reaching throughputs
of several tens or so of megabits per second over copper telephone cables, will use
the 138-kHz to 12-MHz frequency band. Therefore, it is likely to be subjected to
potential interference, since PLC technologies use the 2- to 30-MHz band emitting
an electromagnetic noise around the electrical wirings, which can reach 70 to 80
dBμV (“quasipeak” value).
Figure 13.11 illustrates the various VDSL bands and the place of the PLC bands
in this frequency space.
In the field of local area networks, there are no problems with coexisting PLC
and wired technologies so that wired technologies are frequently used as backbones
for PLC local area networks.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Network Technologies
To make a comparison between PLC technologies and other network technologies,
Table 13.2 summarizes the main advantages and disadvantages of each of these
Some of them have developed to a large extent because they met requirements
by providing functionalities not provided by other technologies (price, easy deployment, open-endedness, security, and so forth).
Optimizing Network Architectures
The multiplication of currently available network technologies makes it legitimate
to look for the best of each technology in order to build an optimal network architecture.
For this purpose, it is important to analyze the specifications for the network to
be implemented and to list the most important characteristics of the building to be
Figure 13.11
Potential interference between VDSL and PLC bands
Optimizing Network Architectures
Table 13.2 Comparison Between the Various Network Technologies
Ethernet cable
(CAT5 100baseT)
(IEEE 802.11g)
Average –Radio coverage study
–WPA and AES encryption
–Required RADIUS server
–Non guaranteed QoS
–Network open-endedness
–Mobility and handover
–ToIP on Wi-Fi
–Hybrid network with wired backbone
Cable TV
High if –Raceway
raceway –Potentially shared medium
requiring authentication
–Possibility to use existing cables
–Guaranteed QoS
–Difficult access to physical medium
Optical fiber
(plastic fiber)
–Very high throughput
–Noise immunity
–Ideal for wired backbone
–Difficult access to physical medium
HomePlug Turbo
Average –Requires site and electrical
network engineering study
–Requires good knowledge of
the electrical network
–Difficult access for some
device locations
HomePlug AV PLC
Telephone cable
–Cable cost
–Cost of active devices
–Requires good knowledge
–of the electrical hazards
High if –Public telephone cable
raceway belonging to France
–Guaranteed QoS
–Increased security (RJ-45 connector
access control, filtering)
–Guaranteed throughput
–Power supply by PoE
–High useful throughput
–Easy configuration
–Network open-endedness
–Possible temporary network
–Medium security
–Several VLAN on same electrical
–Useful throughput for HD video
–Guaranteed QoS
–Coexistence with other HomePlug
1.0 and Turbo devices
–Compliance with electromagnetic
–Hybrid PLC/Wi-Fi networks
–Use of existing cables
–High and guaranteed throughput
–Guaranteed QoS
–Physical medium security
The network engineering study aims at identifying the following characteristics
in particular:
Structure of the buildings (size of the rooms, raceway possibilities, materials
of the walls for radio transmission, and so forth);
Existing networks (private telephone networks connecting several buildings
of a site, cable TV networks, and so forth);
Electrical network mapping and position of the circuit breaker panel;
Expected network performance for applications (transit time, latency, jitter,
and so forth);
Hybrid PLC
Open-endedness, removal requirements, temporary networks, test networks,
and so forth;
User groups and requirements of specific logical networks;
Easy network deployment, configuration, and global supervision.
It is essential to specify these characteristics to build a network architecture that
is both efficient and stable in time.
In the same manner as we have made a table in which the advantages and disadvantages of the various network technologies are compared, the optimum utilization
conditions of each of these technologies are detailed in Table 13.3.
Example of an Optimized Architecture
We are going to take the example of the computer network of an installation with
two buildings already fitted with private telephone lines starting from a local PABX
to connect the two buildings.
Since these are multistory buildings, we want to implement user mobility in each
room and between the two buildings. We assume that the rising mains are accessible
and that they allow the passage of additional cables and easy installation of network
A good knowledge of the electrical network of each story and of the entire building, if this is possible, is necessary for the installation of the PLC devices.
To satisfy these requirements and comply with these specifications, the hybrid
architecture illustrated in Figure 13.12 consists of the following elements:
Table 13.3
Optimum Utilization Conditions of Network Technologies
Ethernet cable
–Easy raceway (rising mains, other expected
–work, power supply by PoE, and so forth)
–Optimum network architecture (star, ring,
branches, and so forth)
–Efficient radio coverage
–Good handover management between cells
–Good security management
Cable TV
–Easy raceway
–Easy existing medium access
Optical fiber
–Easy raceway
–Active devices optimizing multiplexing
–Good choice of optical mode and wavelengths
–Good knowledge of the electrical network
–Hybrid network with wired backbone
Telephone cable
–Possibility to place devices close to PABX
–Available point-to-point links
Optimizing Network Architectures
Figure 13.12
Example of optimized hybrid architecture
IP links between the telecommunications premises and the buildings using
SHDSL modems over twisted pair telephone cables;
Ethernet backbone along the rising mains to supply each story with IP connection;
PLC story network with a gateway device for each story connected to the
Ethernet backbone;
PLC/Wi-Fi hybrid device with an outlet in each room in order to ensure complete Wi-Fi coverage;
Clients connected to the network either by means of IEEE 802.11 boards or
use of PLC devices connected to the story PLC “gateways.”
This architecture is just an example of a hybrid network. However, it makes
optimal use of the constraints of the network installation site. Each of these constraints can turn into an advantage if the suitable network technology is chosen.
PLC and Wi-Fi, a Perfect Couple?
As indicated on several occasions in this book, there are many similarities between
PLC and Wi-Fi technologies with the exception of the communication medium concerning the proposed throughputs, functionalities, or even device cost. Therefore, it
was rather logical to notice that these two technologies get closer to allowing use of
the electrical network as the Ethernet backbone and the Wi-Fi interfaces to connect
the customers of the local area network.
An increasing number of manufacturers propose devices combining both technologies. The development of the latest standards will soon bring devices combining
Hybrid PLC
Figure 13.13
Optimized PLC/Wi-Fi devices
HomePlug AV and IEEE 802.11 Super G dynamic to market in order to provide
better throughputs and the broadcasting of HD video streams.
Figure 13.13 illustrates the exchange of frames between a PLC device and a
Wi-Fi device with an example of a PLC/Wi-Fi hybrid device below. The manufacturers are currently working on the optimization of the connections between PLC and
radio interfaces in order to avoid frame encapsulation and de-encapsulation phases.
Web Sites
Standardizations Organizations
IEEE: http://www.ieee.org
http:// grouper.ieee.org/groups/1901/ for the PLC network working group
ETSI: http://www.etsi.org
IETF: http://www.ietf.org
Cenélec: http://www.cenelec.org
IEC and, namely, CISPR: http://www.iec.ch/cgi-bin/procgi.pl/www/iecwww.
PLC Technologies
HomePlug: http://www.homeplug.org
DS2: http://www.ds2.es
Spidcom: http://www.spidcom.com
Portals on PLC
CPL News: http://www.cpl-news.com
Powerline Communications: http://powerlinecommunications.net
PUA: http://pua-plc.com
PLC Forum: http://www.plcforum.org
CEPCA Alliance: http://www.cepca.org
Books and Articles
Low Bit Rate PLC Technologies
Books and Articles
DOSTERT (KLAUS), Powerline Communications, Prentice Hall, 2000
LEE (M. K.), NEWMAN (R. E.), LATCHMAN (H. A.), KATAR (S.), YONGE (L.), HomePlug 1.0
Powerline Communication LANs––Protocol Description and Performance Results, version 5.4, 2000,
PAVLIDOU (F.-N.), LATCHMAN (H. A.), HAN VINCK (A. J.), NEWMAN (R. E.), “Powerline communications and applications,” International Journal of Communication Systems, 2003, Wiley.
HRASNICA (H.), HAIDINE (A.), LEHNERT (R.), Broadband Powerline Communications: Network
Design, 2004, Wiley.
About the Author
Xavier Carcelle earned an M.Sc. in EE from Ecole Normale Supérieure, France. He
has held different positions in the industries of energy and telecommunications in
France and in the United States. He worked for 6 years at Electricité de France, the
largest electrical utility worldwide, as a telecommunications expert for PLC and
wireless networks. In the United States, he worked as a software engineer on video
compression algorithms for IP networks. He lectures in telecommunications at several universities in Paris and is a guest lecturer at the University of Florida. Xavier
Carcelle is currently a member of the technical working group for IEEE 1901 PLC
standardization body.
He currenly holds the position of CTO for the company OPENPATTERN,
which is developing open hardware network routers.
ACK response, 46, 47
Active repeaters, 145
Address classes, 212–213
AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), 65–66
AIFS (allocation interframe spacing), 41
Analogy with network hub, 25, 26
Antinoise filters, 147, 149
Applications, 107–124
audio broadcasting, 118
economic perspectives, 123–124
file sharing, 116–117
in industry, 121
InternetBox, 119–121
Internet connection sharing, 116
in motor vehicles, 122–123
multimedia, 114–115
over coaxial cable, 122
printer sharing, 116–117
in public spaces, 122
recreational, 118
telephony over PLC, 108–114
video surveillance, 118–119
visioconferencing/videoconferencing, 114
Wi-Fi network backbone, 119
Architecture, 15–29
business PLC, 248–250, 256–257
centralized mode, 37
community PLC, 278–280
DHCP, 239–245
electrical networks, 15–24
hotel PLC, 264–266, 268
layered, 27–29
master-slave mode, 126
optimized, 304–308
in peer-to-peer mode, 34, 130
PSTN, 16
with shared medium, 24–27
ARQ (automatic repeat process), 45–49
acknowledgment frames, 46
ACK response, 46, 47
defined, 45
FAIL response, 46, 48–49
NACK response, 46, 48
SACK response, 49
Ascom, 128, 129
AsokaUSA PowerManager, 188
brute force, 72
decryption, 79–80
dictionary, 72
DoS, 71, 80
PLC networks, 78–80
on security holes, 72
spoofing, 72
virus, worm, Trojan horse, 72
Attenuation, 20–21, 165–167
cable length and, 168
for meter and circuit breakers, 20
Audio broadcasting, 118
Audio PLC modems, 138–139
EAP, 81–82
IEEE 802.1x, 80
PLC networks, 75
public keys, 69
AZtech HomePlug AV Utility, 188
B2BIFS (beacon to beacon interframe spacing),
Back-off algorithm, 42–44
back-off time, 42
contention window size variation, 43
random variable, 42
BIFS (burst interframe spacing), 41
Blocking filters, 147, 149
Blowfish, 65
BOOTP (Boot Strap Protocol), 238
BPL (broadband powerLine), 1, 151
Broadcast, 58
Broadcast address, 102
Brute force attacks, 72
Business PLC, 247–271
access to electrical medium, 253–255
application classes, 255
architecture illustration, 249
capacitive coupling, 253
DHCP client configuration, 268–271
DHCP/NAT server configuration, 269–270
equipment placement, 255–256
equipment selection, 251–256
hotel implementation, 263–268
inductive coupling, 253
NAT (network address translation),
network architecture, 248–250
network architecture selection, 256–257
network selection, 251–256
repeater installation, 260–262
security functionalities, 260
security parameters, 257–260
service quality, 252–253
SNMP, 249–250
standard selection, 250–251
supervising, 249–250
supervision tools, 250
VoIP under, 262–263
Cables, 165
length, 165–167
types, 165
Cable TV modems, 134–136
applications, 135–136
compatibility, 136
connectors, 135
frequency bands, 134
Capacitance, 18–19
Capacitive coupling, 140, 253
CAP (channel access priority), 51, 52
CDCF (commonly distributed coordination
function), 296
Cenélec, 1, 3, 6, 20, 24
CEN (European Standardization Committee),
Centralized mode, 36–38
advantages/disadvantages, 32
architecture, 37
data communicated between devices, 37
defined, 32
devices, 37
equipment, 129–130
HomePlug AV, 129–130
See also Network modes
CEPCA, 296–297
CIFS AV (contention distributed interframe
spacing version AV), 41–42
CIFS (contention distributed interframe
spacing), 40
Circuit breaker panel, 164–165
defined, 164–165
illustrated, 166
Coaxial cable, PLC over, 122
Community PLC, 273–293
architecture, 280–282
constraints, 280
deployed networks, 289–293
distribution networks, 279
distribution network supervision
architecture, 285
Eichhoff injector connection, 282
electrical network operators, 274–275
electrical networks, 273–277
electrical network topology, 275–276
electrical subnet architecture, 274
equipment selection, 283–284
implementation, 277–293
inter-POP backbones, 278
issues in electrical networks, 282–283
large-scale networks, 289
local area networks (LANs), 279
medium-scale networks, 288–289
MV network topology, 276–277
network configuration, 285–287
NOC (Network Operation Center), 284
position within network architecture,
power line distribution system, 278
power supply, 283
small-scale networks, 287–288
supervision, 284–285
technology selection, 283–284
very large networks, 278
Company standards, 5
Conductors, 165
Configuration, 179–216
DHCP, 237–245
DHCP client (Linux), 268–271
DS2 network, 206–211
HD-PLC network, 205–206
HomePlug 1.0 network, 179–187
HomePlug 1.0 network under Linux,
HomePlug AV network, 187–191
HomePlug AV network under Linux,
HomePlug Turbo network, 179–187
Internet gateway, 235–245
network parameters, 211–216
network parameters (Linux/BSD), 215–216
network parameters (Windows XP), 215
PLC gateway, 224–228
PLC network under FreeBSD, 204–205
PLC security, 228–230, 259–260
repeater, 261–262
Consortium standards, 5
Contention-free access (CFA), 53
Counterattacks, 61
Coupling, 140–141
capacitive, 140
direct tap, 143
inductive, 141
between phases, 21
Cryptography, 62–66
AES (Advanced Encryption Standard),
blowfish, 65
defined, 62
DES (Data Encryption Standard), 63–64
Diffie-Hellman, 67
IDEA (International Data Encryption
Algorithm), 64
mixed-key, 68
principle, 62
public-key, 66–67
RC2, 64
RC4, 64
RC5, 65
RC6, 65
symmetric-key, 62–63
3-DES, 64
twofish, 65
See also Security
CSMA/CA (carrier sense multiple access/
collision avoidance), 38–45
access to medium, 40–42
back-off algorithm, 42–44
data transmission example, 45
defined, 38
in HomePlug, 39
listening to medium, 39–40
CSMA/CD (carrier sense multiple access/
collision detection), 38
Current Technology, 291–293
Data rates, 171–178
maximum, 175–177
PHY, estimating, 180
throughput calculation, 171–175
variation, 177–178
Decryption attacks, 79–80
De facto standards, 3
DEK (default encryption key)
defined, 180
network configuration with, 186
unique, 185
Denial of service (DoS) attacks, 71, 80
DES (Data Encryption Standard), 63–64
Devolo dLAN Software, 188
DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol)
architecture, 239–245
architecture illustration, 240
client, dynamic configuration, 241
client configuration (Linux), 268–271
configuration, 237–245
configuration under Windows XP, 242–245
defined, 236, 238
parameters, 239–241
servers, 248
Dictionary attacks, 72
Diffie-Hellman, 67
Direct tap coupling, 143
Disturbance amplitude, 170
Domain name servers (DNS), 215, 236, 237
Double outlets, 171
DS2, 128
defined, 206
operation modes, 206
DS2 network configuration, 206–211
addressing planes, 207
HTTP tool, 207
multicast parameters, 210
PHY parameters, 210
PLC device MAC/network parameters, 208
PLC device network mode, 209
PLC device parameters, 208
security parameters, 210
Dynamic adaptation, bit rate, 58
Dynamic notching, 154
EAP (extensible authentication protocol), 80,
defined, 81
EAP (extensible authentication protocol)
EAP-MD5, 81
EAP-TLS, 81–82, 82
LEAP, 82
PEAP, 82
EAPoL (EAP over LAN), 82–83
EIFS (extended interface spacing), 41
Electrical networks
architecture, 15–24
attenuation on, 165–167
circuit breaker panel, 164–165
for communities, 273–277
distribution, simplified architecture, 17
electrical wiring, 17–22
interference effects, 169–171
issues in, 282–283
modeling, 22–24
MV (medium voltage), 151
operational responsibilities, 17
placing devices on, 220–223
single-phase wiring, 160, 161–163
three-phase wiring, 160, 163–164
topology, 160–168
voltage classification, 15, 16
wiring, 164
Electrical security, 217–219
Electrical wiring
attenuation, 20–21
capacitance, 18–19
characteristics, 17–24
coupling between phases, 21
electromagnetic noise, 19–20
frequency response, 21
impedance, 18, 19, 23
inductance, 18
interface sensitivity, 21–22
perturbations, 19–20
Electromagnetic compatibility, 157–160
Electromagnetic disturbances, 170
Electromagnetic noise, 19–20
Electromechanical meters, 145
Equipment, 125–150
business PLC placement, 255–256
capacitive coupling, 140
centralized mode, 129–130
community PLC, 283–284
cost, 148–150
direct tap coupling, 143
EMC requirements, 5
filters, 146–148
home PLC, 219–220
inductive coupling, 141
LV directives, 5
master-slave mode, 126–128
meters, 144–145
peer-to-peer mode, 128–129
PLC technologies, 125–130
repeaters, 145–146
signal injectors, 141–142
transformers, 143–144
transmission power, 158–160
device configuration, 183–187
modems, 133–134
PLC coexistence, 304
ETSI (European Telecommunications
Standards Institute), 3, 6, 15, 20
FAIFA, 200, 201
File sharing, 116–117
Filters, 146–148
antinoise, 147, 149
blocking, 147, 149
cost, 150
hardware, 232
home PLC, 231–232
use illustration, 234
Fragmentation reassembly, 56–57
Frame check sequence (FCS), 49, 50
Frame level functionalities, 54–57
fragmentation reassembly, 56–57
MAC encapsulation, 55–56
Frames, 87–104
802.11b, 95
beacon, 51
control and management, 103–104
HomePlug, 95
MAC layer, 100–104
OFDM interface, 91–100
physical, access to, 75
physical, PLC, 96–100
physical layer, 88–90
priorities, managing, 51–52
FreeBSD, PLC network configuration,
FreeSWAN, 260
Frequency bands, 27–29, 151–160
cable TV, 134
disturbances, 154
dynamic notching, 154
electromagnetic compatibility and, 157–160
high bit rate, 155–157
illustrated, 153
low bit rate, 154–155
MV networks, 151
OFDM, 91
radio frequency regulation, 152–157
use for HomePlug AV devices, 93–94
Frequency response, 21
Functionalities, 31–60
dynamic adaptation of bit rate, 58
frame level, 54–57
network mode, 31–38
service quality, 59–60
transmission channel, 38–54
unicast, broadcast, multicast, 58–59
Gain/power correspondence, 159
Government standards, 5–6
GPS position, 286–287
Ground, 165
“The Handbook of Standardization,” 4
Hash function, 69–72
defined, 69
with public-key cryptography, 70
HD-PLC network configuration, 205–206
Hexadecimal format, 102
Hi-fi quality telephony, 111
High-bit rate PLC, 155–157
Home-made PLC repeaters, 146, 147
Home PLC, 217–245
device placement on network, 220–223
electrical security, 217–219
equipment selection, 219–220
firewall, 231–232
Internet gateway configuration, 235–245
maximum number of devices, 230
PLC device placement, 222
PLC gateway configuration, 224–228
PPPoE tunnels, 233–235
RADIUS, 233, 234
security configuration, 228–230
security parameters, 223–235
technology selection, 219
testing operation, 230–231
VPNs, 232, 234
wiring diagram, 221
ACK acknowledgment, 47
architecture, 90
AV version, 41, 150
beacon frames, 51
centralized mode, 129–130
CSMA/CA in, 39
data link layer, 90
defined, 15
devices, frequency band use for, 93–94
evolution, 15
FAIL response, 49
frames, 95
frame structure, 88
frame synchronization, 50
frame time length, 88
frame times, 97
listening to medium, 40
long frame structure, 97
MAC frames, 100
NACK acknowledgment, 48
NEK (network encryption key), 73, 76
physical layer, 90
PLC modems, 132, 133
PLC network hierarchy, 36
SACK response, 49
security, 78
start delimiter details, 54
TDMA and, 44
Turbo, 149, 150
worldwide chip sales, 124
HomePlug 1.0 PLC configuration (Linux),
compilation parameters, 198
dmesg command, 194
Ethernet/USB virtual board, 197
installation command, 195
make install-boot command, 197
make install-usbdriver command, 196
make usbdriver command, 196
PLC configuration tool compilation, 199
PLC configuration tool installation, 199
PLC device sensing, 200
tool downloading window, 194
USB PLC device driver directory, 195
HomePlug 1.0/Turbo network configuration,
configuration tools, 181–182
Ethernet device, 183–187
parameters, 180
PHY data rate estimation, 180
HomePlug 1.0/Turbo network configuration
under Windows, 180–187
USB device, 183–187
visible parameters, 181
HomePlug Alliance, 8
HomePlug AV network configuration,
EasyConnect mode, 189
modes, 187–188
network interface choice, 189
Power Manager tool, 192
tool installation progress, 188
tool module installation choice, 190
tools, 188
HomePlug AV PLC network configuration
(Linux), 200–204
FAIFA, 200, 201
integrated distribution tool, 200–201
Hotel PLC, 263–268
architecture illustration, 265
Internet access between computers, 268
logical architecture, 266
network architecture, 264
network implementation, 263–268
story, 266–267
story management, 267
story network architecture, 268
See also Business PLC
Hybrid PLC, 295–308
advantages/disadvantages, 304
multiple network coexistence, 295–304
optimized architecture example, 306–307
optimizing network architectures, 304–308
PLC and Wi-Fi coexistence, 298–303
PLC and wired Ethernet coexistence, 304
PLC technologies between themselves,
technology comparisons, 305
elements, 80
IEEE 802.11b frames, 95
IEEE 802.11 mode, 301
IEEE 802.3, 102–103
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers), 8–9, 15
defined, 8
future standard, 10
information resource distribution, 9
parties involved in standardization, 11
See also Standards
Impedance, 18, 19, 23
Inductance, 18
Inductive coupling, 141, 253, 256
Industry standards, 5
Installation, 151–178
Interface sensitivity, 21–22
Interference, 169–171
disturbances, 170
effects on electrical network, 169–171
Internet access providers (IAP), 217
InternetBox, 119–121
Internet connection
configuration, 235–245
dedicated computer, 236
DHCP, 236, 237–245
methods, 235
NAT, 236, 237–245
PLC modem-router, 237
sharing, 116, 236–237
Interoperability standard, future, 10
IP addresses, 211–212
IPsec, 85
IPv4 addresses, 212
ISO (International Standardization
Organization), 3
ISRIC (International Special Radio
Interference Committee), 20
IDEA (International Data Encryption
Algorithm), 64
IEC (International Electrotechnical
Commission), 3, 7, 20
IEEE 802.1x, 80–84
architecture, 81
authentication, 80, 84
authentication server, 84
defined, 80
EAP authentication, 81–82
KSA (Key Scheduling Algorithm), 64
Layered architecture, 27–29
frequency bands, 27–29
physical layer, 27
See also Architecture
Linksys PLE 200 Utility, 188
DHCP client configuration, 268–271
HomePlug 1.0 network configuration,
HomePlug AV network configuration,
network parameter configuration, 215–216
Local networks, 115–119
audio broadcasting, 118
file and printer sharing, 116–117
Internet connection sharing, 116
recreational applications, 118
video surveillance, 118–119
Wi-Fi network backbone, 119
See also PLC networks
Logical PLC repeaters, 27
Low bit rate PLC, 154–155
LV (low voltage) networks
branches, 277
topology, 276–277, 281
MAC address, 241
MAC encapsulation, 55–56
MAC layer frames, 100–104
address fields, 101–102
block check field, 100–102
control and management, 103–104
encrypted, format, 102–103
header format, 100–102
HomePlug 1.0, 100
Main.net, 127–128
Master-slave mode, 32–33
advantages/disadvantages, 32
architecture, 126
defined, 31
device manufacturers, 127–128
equipment, 126–128
equipment position, 127
master functionalities, 32–33
master PLC device functionalities, 33
technical solutions, 33
See also Network modes
MD2, 71
MD4, 71
MD5, 70, 71, 77–78
Meters, 144–145
EDF day/night tariff, 155
electromechanical, 145
use of, 144–145
MicroLink dLAN, 181
Mixed-key cryptograph, 68
Cenélec and, 24
electrical devices, 23–24
electrical networks, 22–24
Modems, 130–140
audio, 138–139
cable TV, 134–136
cost, 150
dissipation in, 131
Ethernet, 133–134
HomePlug, 132, 133
integrated with electrical outlets, 136
LED indicators, 131
multifunction, 137–138
outside/inside illustration, 131
PLC/Wi-Fi, 136–137
telephone, 139–140
USB, 132–133, 134
use of, 131
See also Equipment
Motor vehicles, PLC in, 122–123
Multicast, 58
Multicast address, 102
Multifunction PLC modems, 137–138
Multimedia, 114–115
MV (medium voltage) electrical networks, 151
frequency band, 151
topology, 276–277
See also Electrical networks
NACK response, 46, 48
NAT (network address translation)
business PLC, 270–271
configuring, 237–245
defined, 236
routers, 237, 248
NEK (network encryption key), 73
calculating, 77
default, HomePlug, 76
defined, 180
in home PLC, 229
passwords, 185
for PLC logical network, 191
Network modes, 31–38
advantages/disadvantages, 32
centralized, 32, 36–38
functionality, 31–38
master-slave, 31, 32–33
peer-to-peer, 32, 34–36
Network parameters
address classes, 212–213
configuration, 211–216
configuration (Linux/BSD), 215–216
configuration (Windows XP), 215
DNS (domain name service), 214
IP addresses, 211–212
IPv4 addresses, 212
review, 211–214
subnet mask, 214
Neutral, 165
NOC (Network Operation Center), 284
OFDM (orthogonal frequency division
frequency bands, 91
functional blocks, 94–95
interface frames, 91–100
multichannel modulation, 158
symbol details, 92–93
symbols, 88, 91–93
transmission schemes, 92
Ohm’s law, 19
Opera consortium, 9
Optimized architecture, 306–307
maximal, 174
minimum, 173
Passive repeaters, 145
PCS (physical carrier sense), 52
Peer-to-peer mode, 34–36
advantages/disadvantages, 32
architecture, 34, 130
defined, 32
device parameters, 34–35
equipment, 128–129
parameter exchange in, 35
PLC network organization, 37
use of, 36
See also Network modes
Phase, 165
PHY data rate estimation, 180
Physical frames, 96–100
data body, 98, 99
elements, 96
end delimiter, 98–100
start delimiter, 98
Physical layer, 27
Physical layer frames, 88–90
Physical repeaters, 26–27
advantages/disadvantages, 10–12
for businesses, 247–271
for communities, 273–293
defined, 1
device priority, 180
functionalities, 31–60
in home, 217–245
hybrid, 295–308
InternetBox and, 119–121
modems, 130–140
in practice, 105–308
repeaters, 25–26
standardization, 10
technologies, 1–10
technologies in OSI model, 28
theory, 13–104
VoIP under, 262–263
PLC Forum, 10
PLC gateways
configuring, 224–228
data traffic priority levels, 227
elements determining, 224
for HomePlug device, 225
location of, 226
PLC networks
attacks, 78–80
authentication, 75
as backbones, 247
data rates, 171–178
development, 105
local, 115–119
network keys, 75–78
parameter configuration, 211–216
physical frames access, 75
physical medium access, 73–74
reliability, 72
security, 72–80, 178
security improvements, 80–85
simplicity, 72
status diagnostic function, 187
testing operation, 230–231
topology, choosing, 167–168
PLCP PPDU (physical level common protocol
PPDU), 96
PLC/Wi-Fi, 298–303
device configuration, 300
hybrid architecture example, 299
modems, 136–137
optimized, 307–308
See also Wi-Fi
“Power line carriers,” 2
Power line communications. See PLC
PowerPacket Utility, 181
Power strips, 171
PPPoE tunnels, 233–235
PRGA (Pseudorandom Generator Algorithm),
Printer sharing, 116–117
Private networks, 24–25, 26
Propagation, 168–169
PSD (power spectral density), 158
curve, 160
deviation, 159
maximum, 160
PSTN (public switched telephony network)
model, 16
PUA (PLC Utilities Alliance), 9
Public-key cryptography, 66–67
defined, 66
hash function with, 70
illustrated, 67
key types, 66
RSA (Rivest, Shamir, Adelman), 67
See also Cryptograph
Public keys
authentication, 69
hash and, 71
use of, 69
Public networks, 24, 25
Pulsadis signal, 1, 155, 156
QMP (QoS and MAC parameters), 253, 254
Quality of service (QoS), 51, 59
HomePlug AV, 252–253
management, 59
multimedia, 115
Radio frequencies
high bit rate PLC, 155–157
low bit rate PLC, 154–155
regulation, 152–157
RADIUS (remote authentication dial-in user
service), 80, 82
defined, 82
diameter and, 81
home PLC, 233, 234
RC2, 64
RC4, 64
RC5, 65
RC6, 65
Reassembly, 57
Recreational applications, 118
Repeaters, 25–27, 145–146
active, 145
configuring, 261–262
cost, 150
defined, 145
home-made, 146, 147
installing, 260–261
logical, 27
passive, 145
physical, 26–27
PLC, 145–146
Resources, 309–311
books and articles, 311
Web sites, 309–311
RGIFS (reverse grant interframe spacing), 42
RIFS (response interface spacing), 41
Ripple Control, 1
RSA (Rivest, Shamir, Adelman), 67
SACK response, 49
Security, 61–85, 178
cryptography, 62–66
electronic signatures, 68–69
functionalities, 260
hash function, 69–72
holes, attacks on, 72
home PLC, 217–218, 228–230
HomePlug AV, 78
IEEE 802.1x and improvements to, 80–85
issues, 61–72
mixed-key cryptography, 68
for PLC networks, 72–80
public-key cryptography, 66–67
public keys, 69
topologies, 258–259
Security parameters (business PLC), 257–260
configuring, 259–260
topologies, 258–259
VLAN, 260
VPN, 260
Security parameters (home PLC), 223–235
Security parameters (home PLC) (continued)
configuring, 228–230
firewall, 231–232
PLC gateway, 224–228
testing operation, 230–231
VPN and PPPoE, 232–235
Segment bursting, 53–54
Shared medium architecture, 24–27
analogy with network hub, 25, 26
PLC repeater concept, 25–27
private networks, 24–25, 26
public networks, 24, 25
See also Architecture
SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm), 71
Signal injectors, 141–142
Single-phase wiring, 160, 161–163
defined, 160
topology illustrations, 162
See also Three-phase wiring
SNMP (simple network management
protocol), 249–250
SoftPlug, 182
Speech packetization/depacketization, 109
Spidcom, 128
Spoofing attacks, 72
consortiums and associations, 8–10
IEEE, parties involved in, 11
parties involved in, 7
towards, 10
company, 5
consortium, 5
de facto, 3
defined, 2, 3
government, 5–6
IEEE, future, 10
industry, 5
interoperability, future, 10
organizations, 2–4
types of, 4–8
voluntary, 4
Streaming, 112
Symmetric-key cryptography, 62–63
frame controls and, 49–51
HomePlug AV frames, 50–51
TCP/IP parameters, 243–245
of board via ipconfig, 245
configuring, 243
of LAN Ethernet board, 244
Telephone PLC modems, 139–140
Telephony over PLC, 108–114
capacity problems, 113–114
differentiating IP packets, 110–111
hi-fi quality, 111
speech packetization/depacketization, 109
streaming, 112
transit time, 110
video, 112
video routing rates, 113
Three-phase wiring, 160, 163–164
defined, 160
topology illustration, 163
See also Single-phase wiring
calculation, 171–175
HomePlug Turbo PLC, 223
telephony, 223
Time division multiple access (TDMA), 13
beacon frames, 51
medium access in HomePlug AV and, 44
slots, 51
timeslots, 115
Tone map management, 52–53
Topology, 160–168
building dense urban area, 279
choosing, 167–168
electrical network, 275–276
LV network, 276–277, 281
mesh, 277
MV network, 276–277
ring, 277
security, 258–259
single-phase wiring, 160, 161–163
star, 276
three-phase wiring, 160, 163–164
Transfer time, 172
Transformers, 144
defined, 143
overriding, 144
Transit time, 110
Transmission channel
ARQ, 45–49
contention-free access, 53
CSMA/CA techniques, 38–45
defined, 38
frame priority management, 51–52
frequency channel management, 52–53
functionalities, 38–54
medium access, 38–45
Transmission channel (continued)
segment bursting, 53–54
synchronization and frame controls, 49–51
Transmission power, 158–160
Transmission time, 173, 175
3-DES, 64
Trojan horse attacks, 72
Twofish, 65
Unicast, 58–59
device configuration, 183–187
modems, 132–133, 134
VCS (virtual carrier sense), 39, 52
VDSL bands, 304
Video, 112
routing, 113
surveillance, 118–119
Videoconferencing, 114
Virtual private networks (VPNs), 85
business PLC, 260
home PLC, 232, 234
Viruses, 72
Visioconferencing, 114
VLAN labels, 60
VLAN (virtual LAN), 260
VoIP, 262–263
Voluntary standards, 4
WANs (wide-area networks), 248
access point, 300
access point properties, 301
global configuration over, 301
network backbone, 119
optimized PLC, 307–308
PLC coexistence, 298–303
PLC hybrid architecture example, 299
DHCP configuration, 242–245
network connection window, 232
network parameter configuration, 215
PLC network configuration, 180–187
WinPCap tool, 227
Worms, 72
Zyxel PLA, 188
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Broadband Access Technology, Interfaces, and Management,
Alex Gillespie
Broadband Local Loops for High-Speed Internet Access,
Maurice Gagnaire
Broadband Networking: ATM, SDH, and SONET, Mike Sexton and
Andy Reid
Broadband Telecommunications Technology, Second Edition,
Byeong Lee, Minho Kang, and Jonghee Lee
The Business Case for Web-Based Training, Tammy Whalen and
David Wright
The Business Privacy Law Handbook, Charles H. Kennedy
Centrex or PBX: The Impact of IP, John R. Abrahams and Mauro Lollo
Chinese Telecommunications Policy, Xu Yan and Douglas Pitt
Communication and Computing for Distributed Multimedia Systems,
Guojun Lu
Communications Technology Guide for Business, Richard Downey,
Seán Boland, and Phillip Walsh
Community Networks: Lessons from Blacksburg, Virginia, Second Edition,
Andrew M. Cohill and Andrea Kavanaugh, editors
Component-Based Network System Engineering, Mark Norris,
Rob Davis, and Alan Pengelly
Computer Telephony Integration, Second Edition, Rob Walters
Customer-Centered Telecommunications Services Marketing,
Karen G. Strouse
Delay- and Disruption-Tolerant Networking, Stephen Farrell and
Vinny Cahill
Deploying and Managing IP over WDM Networks, Joan Serrat and
Alex Galis, editors
Desktop Encyclopedia of the Internet, Nathan J. Muller
Digital Clocks for Synchronization and Communications, Masami Kihara,
Sadayasu Ono, and Pekka Eskelinen
Digital Modulation Techniques, Second Edition, Fuqin Xiong
E-Commerce Systems Architecture and Applications, Wasim E. Rajput
Engineering Internet QoS, Sanjay Jha and Mahbub Hassan
Error-Control Block Codes for Communications Engineers,
L. H. Charles Lee
Essentials of Modern Telecommunications Systems, Nihal Kularatna and
Dileeka Dias
FAX: Facsimile Technology and Systems, Third Edition,
Kenneth R. McConnell, Dennis Bodson, and Stephen Urban
Fundamentals of Network Security, John E. Canavan
Gigabit Ethernet Technology and Applications, Mark Norris
The Great Telecom Meltdown, Fred R. Goldstein
Guide to ATM Systems and Technology, Mohammad A. Rahman
A Guide to the TCP/IP Protocol Suite, Floyd Wilder
Home Networking Technologies and Standards, Theodore B. Zahariadis
Implementing Value-Added Telecom Services, Johan Zuidweg
Information Superhighways Revisited: The Economics of Multimedia,
Bruce Egan
Installation and Maintenance of SDH/SONET, ATM, xDSL, and Synchronization
Networks, José M. Caballero et al.
Integrated Broadband Networks: TCP/IP, ATM, SDH/SONET, and
WDM/Optics, Byeong Gi Lee and Woojune Kim
Internet E-mail: Protocols, Standards, and Implementation,
Lawrence Hughes
Introduction to Telecommunications Network Engineering,
Second Edition, Tarmo Anttalainen
Introduction to Telephones and Telephone Systems, Third Edition,
A. Michael Noll
An Introduction to U.S. Telecommunications Law, Second Edition,
Charles H. Kennedy
IP Convergence: The Next Revolution in Telecommunications,
Nathan J. Muller
LANs to WANs: The Complete Management Guide, Nathan J. Muller
The Law and Regulation of Telecommunications Carriers,
Henk Brands and Evan T. Leo
Litigating with Electronically Stored Information, Marian K. Riedy, Susman Beros and
Kim Sperduto
Managing Internet-Driven Change in International Telecommunications,
Rob Frieden
Marketing Telecommunications Services: New Approaches for a
Changing Environment, Karen G. Strouse
Mission-Critical Network Planning, Matthew Liotine
Multimedia Communications Networks: Technologies and Services,
Mallikarjun Tatipamula and Bhumip Khashnabish, editors
Next Generation Intelligent Networks, Johan Zuidweg
Open Source Software Law, Rod Dixon
Performance Evaluation of Communication Networks,
Gary N. Higginbottom
Performance of TCP/IP over ATM Networks, Mahbub Hassan and
Mohammed Atiquzzaman
The Physical Layer of Communications Systems, Richard A. Thompson, David Tipper,
Prashant Krishnamurthy, and Joseph Kabara
Power Line Communications in Practice, Xavier Carcelle
Practical Guide for Implementing Secure Intranets and Extranets,
Kaustubh M. Phaltankar
Practical Internet Law for Business, Kurt M. Saunders
Practical Multiservice LANs: ATM and RF Broadband, Ernest O. Tunmann
Principles of Modern Communications Technology, A. Michael Noll
A Professional’s Guide to Data Communication in a TCP/IP World,
E. Bryan Carne
Programmable Networks for IP Service Deployment, Alex Galis et al.,
Protocol Management in Computer Networking, Philippe Byrnes
Pulse Code Modulation Systems Design, William N. Waggener
Reorganizing Data and Voice Networks: Communications Resourcing for
Corporate Networks, Thomas R. Koehler
Security, Rights, and Liabilities in E-Commerce, Jeffrey H. Matsuura
Service Assurance for Voice over WiFi and 3G Networks, Richard Lau,
Ram Khare, and William Y. Chang
Service Level Management for Enterprise Networks, Lundy Lewis
SIP: Understanding the Session Initiation Protocol, Second Edition,
Alan B. Johnston
Smart Card Security and Applications, Second Edition, Mike Hendry
SNMP-Based ATM Network Management, Heng Pan
Spectrum Wars: The Policy and Technology Debate, Jennifer A. Manner
Strategic Management in Telecommunications, James K. Shaw
Strategies for Success in the New Telecommunications Marketplace,
Karen G. Strouse
Successful Business Strategies Using Telecommunications Services,
Martin F. Bartholomew
Telecommunications Cost Management, S. C. Strother
Telecommunications Department Management, Robert A. Gable
Telecommunications Deregulation and the Information Economy,
Second Edition, James K. Shaw
Telecommunications Technology Handbook, Second Edition,
Daniel Minoli
Telemetry Systems Engineering, Frank Carden, Russell Jedlicka,
and Robert Henry
Telephone Switching Systems, Richard A. Thompson
Understanding Modern Telecommunications and the Information
Superhighway, John G. Nellist and Elliott M. Gilbert
Understanding Networking Technology: Concepts, Terms, and
Trends, Second Edition, Mark Norris
Understanding Voice over IP Security, Alan B. Johnston and
David M. Piscitello
Videoconferencing and Videotelephony: Technology and Standards,
Second Edition, Richard Schaphorst
Visual Telephony, Edward A. Daly and Kathleen J. Hansell
Wide-Area Data Network Performance Engineering, Robert G. Cole and
Ravi Ramaswamy
Winning Telco Customers Using Marketing Databases, Rob Mattison
WLANs and WPANs towards 4G Wireless, Ramjee Prasad and
Luis Muñoz
World-Class Telecommunications Service Development, Ellen P. Ward
For further information on these and other Artech House titles,
including previously considered out-of-print books now available through our In-Print-Forever ®
(IPF ) program, contact:
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