Netgear spreads home Wi-Fi over power circuitry

But the UK looks set to miss out on this innovative way of squishing domestic wireless coverage blackspots

Networking equipment manufacturer Netgear launched a product on Thursday that will allow users to propagate high-speed wireless broadband around their home via their mains wiring.

The snappily named WGXB102 54Mbps Wall-plugged Wireless Range Extender Kit comes in two parts -- an Ethernet bridge and what Netgear calls a 'wireless range extender'.

The bridge is used to connect the customer's existing wired or wireless router to their home mains wiring. The range extender can then be inserted into any power socket, where it will act as a wireless access point.

This allows the customer to get wireless connectivity in places that weren't within the range of their wireless router, using either 802.11b or 802.11g.

"As home network users continue to expand both the reach and usage of their network, whole-home coverage is essential," said Kartik Gada, Netgear product line manager, in a statement.

"This kit works with existing home networks from any vendor of any Wi-Fi standards. Its plug-and-play setup enables users to extend their wireless networks in a few seconds without any configuration requirement."

In the US, the WGXB102 54Mbps wall-plugged wireless range extender kit will cost $149.99, and should be available from early October.

However, UK consumers will not be able to deploy this innovative product at home. A spokesperson for Netgear said on Friday that there were "no plans in the foreseeable future" to launch it in Britain.

No reason was given for this decision, but it's possible that it may be because the UK power system runs at 230 volts, while the US uses 110 volts. Electrical safety standards in the EU are also different to those in the US.

Powerline broadband will work well over a 230-volt circuit, though. French IT equipment manufacturer LEA demonstrated a product at the CeBIT trade show in March this year that can turn the power cables of an office or hotel into a high-speed data network.