Plug It In

The new buzz: the electrical outlet that puts a
charge in home networking. Companies like Intellon allow devices to share
information via the electrical wiring in a home, business or apartment. It's a
simple process. Plug in an adaptor, plug in a device, then share. Intellon CEO
Charlie Harris recently discussed with
the new technology and what it means to the

What do you mean by high-speed home-power-line

You can use our technology to connect your broadband modem or router to
the power outlets with an Ethernet adaptor. Once that's done, you've converted
every outlet in your house into an Ethernet outlet and a connection to the

What is in the device?

We build chips that need to be wrapped into a product with both an
analog and digital component. That enables the connectivity.

So what's the trick?

It's converting the signal. We take the Ethernet signal and load it onto
the power line. There's a particular set of frequencies that we span, and
that's one of the tricks: getting through the noise. One reason this technology
hasn't succeeded in the past is that power lines are extremely noisy. Every
time you turn something on, the noise changes. Here's where our patents come
in: We blast through the noise.

How many devices can be hooked up?

There's no limit. You typically see about 16 devices hooked up at full
speed at one time. When enough people complain about needing more devices,
we'll be really happy.

This seems like a great product for cable operators. How do
you see your relationship developing with them?

Quite well. Understanding the cable and telco business has been our most
successful endeavor over the past year. The most obvious is an extension-cord
application. If you're a telco and you want to get a PC and telephone jack
connected, you could use our technology. Comcast is doing this if there isn't a
coax jack near the PC. They plug in an adaptor at the cable modem and at the
PC, and they've created the network.