|MadSci Network: Computer Science|
Is it possible to send an email through a power line? How much can go through it? Yes, data can be transmitted through power lines. You can buy PC LAN (Local Area Network) cards that transmit data over the power line. Last I heard, they cost about $200 per node. Standard 10Mbps Ethernet cards (these use dedicated network wires) can be had for about $20 each. The expense pretty much limits power line LAN cards to places where stringing another wire is simply impractical. Power lines are meant to carry power - data is strictly an afterthought. Power lines are very noisy, and the transmission characteristics of the power line vary wildly with what is using power at a given instant. Many appliances dump noise into the power line. Anything that receives data over a power line will need to have very robust noise tolerance. All that noise limits just how fast data can be transmitted. I'm guessing that a $200 power line LAN card would be somewhat slower than a $20 10Mbps Ethernet card. Data transmitted over a power line doesn't make it through utility company transformers. Since Utility transformers usually power only a few houses each, your data isn't going to go very far.
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