Phone line network product companies did the right thing and quickly agreed upon a standard. The HomePNA standard has allowed this form of alternative networking to quickly stabilize. The earlier HomePNA 1.0 products had some performance and interoperability differences and were mostly based on a chipset from AMD, with some products using other vendors’ chips. The second generation HomePNA 2.0 products, however, are all based on the Broadcom BCM4210 chip and drivers. This is good for you since it means that the only difference among products is documentation, warranty, support, installation aids, and software bundles. They all work the same, so you can shop by price and mix products from different manufacturers in your network if you like. You can also mix HomePNA1.0 (1Mbps) with HomePNA2.0 (10Mbps) adapters. They’ll talk to each other just fine. Just make sure the products carry the HomePNA certification
HomePNA adapters come in PCI, USB, PCMCIA (PC Card), and Parallel connection formats. Don’t bother looking for ISA compatible adapters… there aren’t any! You can also buy HomePNA to Ethernet bridges that allow you to interconnect the two kinds of networks, but be sure you buy one of the newer HomePNA 2.0 (10Mbps) bridges, such as the NETGEAR PE102 or Linksys HPB200.
Most kits require Windows, with a few exceptions:
Farallon has a phone-line networking kit for Macs and PCs
(both PCI and USB adapter versions are available, but they are 1Mbps only)
S3/DiamondMM has a 1Mbps Phoneline USB product for Windows and MacOS
Hook Me Up
Still not sure if HomePNA is for you? Here’s some info that may help you decide:
You can use the same phoneline at the same time for HomePNA and either voice or dialup networking calls. See this Intel FAQ for more info.
If you have DSL service, you can still use HomePNA products, but you might want to read this first.
You can connect together HomePNA and Ethernet networks. Go to this page for more info and example setups.
TIP: If you’re having trouble getting phone-line adapters to talk to each other, try connecting the two adapters directly together using a phone cord. This will eliminate the uncertainty of your home’s wiring, and you can concentrate on wrestling with the installation software! Also remember that these products must be connected to the same phone line to work! Note that the phoneline doesn’t have to be an active one (doesn’t need to have a dial tone), but the wires need to be connected between all the jacks you plan to use.
TIP: You can mix HomePNA1.0 and 2.0 (1Mbps and 10Mbps) devices in a network, but you won’t get 10Mbps operation from your HomePNA2.0 devices. See this for more info.
An HPNA 2.0 network can support about 50 devices according to this HPNA FAQ.