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Power line networking could get you into trouble

Thousands of households in the UK use power line networking equipment as an alternative for WiFi as a cheap and very effective way of connecting their television set top boxes to their broadband. It is used for a variety of purposes such as “catch up” and “on demand” and is the perfect choice if you want to avoid running any additional cabling through your home. Power line Adapters are devices that use the electricity power lines in your home to send your broadband signal between the two devices.

However, many people who have these in their homes could be facing possible prosecution if it is found that their broadband persistently interferes with radio signals. Following extensive lobbying from intelligence agency GCHQ, Ofcom looks ready to take action under proposals that it has just published. Under these proposals, new regulation means that Ofcom could issue enforcement notices to shut down such networks, if it is found that electromagnetic radiation, which is transmitted by these devices, is interfering with radio signals. Dab radio is one area that is thought to be greatly affected by these radiations and radio “Hams” have long complained that their reception can be suffer from interference. Perhaps more importantly, these radiations can be a security issue with the police, ambulance service and air traffic control not being able to communicate clearly and distinctly.

BT and Talk Talk have distributed these devices to their customers and these will be made to UK standards so should not present any problem at all, the difficulty arises when people buy cheap power line adapters from various web sites which do not comply with our standards and great care should be taken when buying these. For example they may on the face of it look as though they are approved, but a lot of Chinese imports carry the “Chinese Export Mark” which looks very similar but is not the same. The subtle difference is in the spacing of the letters “CE” versus “C E”.