In a way, it surprises me that in the aftermath of all the FUD about Wi-Fi in schools, there hasn't been more promotion of HomePlug Powerline gear for transmitting data over the mains wiring.

After all, the technology is well developed now - it is several generations in and offers speeds of up to 200Mbit/s - although as with Wi-Fi, the real throughput will be rather lower than the rated one. So just as my 54Mbit/s 802.11g Wi-Fi network tends to max out at 22Mbit/s, HomePlug users on Cix conferencing report their 200Mbit/s systems achieve around 80Mbit/s in reality.

That's probably just as well, as unless you're running Gigabit Ethernet everywhere else in your wired network, a 200Mbit/s device would be throttled to 100Mbit/s anyhow.

Could you make use of Powerline? If your office is in a listed building, it's possible you might be doing so already, as some network specialists already use it to boost wireless coverage by adding access points in places where they can't run Cat5 and where the walls are too thick to use wireless bridges.

And it is starting to be integrated into other network devices. I recently saw a new router from ZyXel which has both HomePlug Powerline and Wi-Fi built in. With things like this, who needs wireless bridges or backhaul any more?

Of course, it can't de everything that Wi-Fi can do - it can't provide corridor coverage for PDA users, say. Bluetooth could do that quite adequately though, and with lower power consumption too.

Meanwhile, HomePlug Powerline can quite cheerfully wire up an Ethernet socket anywhere that you'd plug your laptop in to charge up. So, how long before we start to see it built into laptops and their power supplies?