UK Startup Builds Digital Signage Networking Into Power Sockets

January 26, 2012 by Dave Haynes

A lot of digital signage installs use WiFi, but the most stable, reliable way to connect networked media players remains hard-wired ethernet connections. That has meant pulling Cat5 or 6 cables all over the place, which can be a bear in terms of cost, time and hassle.

Using the electrical infrastructure of a building (its power lines) to also run network has been around for a few years, and there’s a new product out by a UK company that looks like a pretty slick way of doing these “Powerline” networks for digital signage.

Reports Hidden Wires:

British technology start-up, Power Ethernet, has launched the ‘PE Socket’, the first product to integrate Powerline data networking technology directly into an electrical socket. It offers AV installers a simple and non-disruptive means of streaming video for home audio visual and digital signage installations. Power Ethernet has signed a distribution agreement with specialist AV connectivity distributor, Arktron for the UK and the ‘PE Socket’ will be in the market from January 2012.

Based on the HomePlug AV standard for Powerline networking, Power Ethernet’s all-in-one PE socket combines four Ethernet network ports, a fully-managed network switch and a filtered power socket into a single socket which fits into a UK Standard 35mm double gang metal back box. The PE socket uses a buildings electrical wiring to create a high-speed and secure data network for connecting digital signage, Internet-connected TVs, digital STBs, CCTV systems, IP phones, home automation systems and other connected-devices.

The PE socket offers AV installers a professional alternative to running additional data cabling and switching for both home and business installations. It can be used to extend an existing Ethernet network, to accommodate new devices such as digital signage screens,IP CCTV cameras or as a stand-alone network in both residential and commercial premises. Installing a Power Ethernet network is as simple as unscrewing and replacing existing power sockets and it can be installed by anyone with the relevant electrical installation certification.

Power Ethernet Managing Director, Daniel Rogoff: “Powerline offers such a simple and cost-effective solution to the challenge of streaming video around homes and businesses. However, we quickly realised that it needed a makeover for it to reach its full potential as an alternative to structured data cabling or Wi-Fi. By integrating Powerline directly into electrical sockets, with the PE Socket, we are able to offer a simple and professional approach to creating a high-speed network that will look the part in both homes and enterprises.”

Arktron Managing Director, Roy Kirsopp : “The PE socket meets a very real need for a non-disruptive video networking solution for home AV and digital signage installations. Wi-Fi and data cabling are unsuitable for many video installations, whether because of patchy Wi-Fi reception or the challenge of installing additional data cabling into existing buildings. By using existing electrical wiring, the Power Ethernet solution is capable of streaming video almost anywhere in a building.”

Power Ethernet’s PE Socket is unique in integrating Powerline into the electrical fabric of a building and its sockets. It’s a professionally engineered, reliable Powerline solution which has been aesthetically designed to ensure that the sockets can be installed in the most prominent of positions. It provides a far more robust and discrete solution than plug-in Powerline adaptors, which are easily knocked out and damaged, or unplugged by maintenance staff and liable to loss in commercial installations. Its design also incorporates almost 100 additional electronic components in order to improve both the network quality and also the durability of the unit.

Installing two or more PE Sockets instantly creates a high speed, secure Ethernet network running across the existing electrical mains cabling. Connecting any PE Socket to a broadband service enables the sharing of Internet connectivity and digital content among all the devices plugged into them. More devices and additional rooms can be easily added to the network simply by installing additional PE Sockets so creating a truly flexible, affordable networking solution. A Power Ethernet network delivers the advanced networking features that are required for both streaming video around the home and for enterprise-grade business networks. However the simplicity of the product installation ensures that networks can be set-up without the need for specialist networking knowledge.

The company’s website only shows a UK-style electrical plug, but it’s a logical leap that a version that would work with plugs for the larger Canada/US market would be either ready or coming.


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