Mains adapters allowing home power lines to act as network links passing 200Mbps could be available within months, according to supplier Packard Bell.
The news follows signs from the government that it may start to encourage builders to hardwire homes rather than use Wi-Fi as a distribution medium.
Power-over-the-mains could offer a compromise solution for people who cannot or will not run cable round their homes, although Cat 5 or fibre would offer a faster and more robust link.
The Homeplug organisation, which promotes the technology in the US, is working on what it calls an AV specification that will increase data rates from the current 14Mbps. Panasonic showed a 144Mbps system at CeBIT but said that it faced regulatory problems in Europe.
However, Graham Hopper, European vice president of sales at Packard Bell, maintained that the problems are restricted to Holland. The company last month showed a home that had been networked over the mains using simple 14Mbps plug-in adapters.
The demonstration used IP over USB-to-USB links, but Packard Bell will also sell Ethernet versions.
Also to launch shortly is an adapter that doubles as a Wi-Fi access point. It supports the 11b/g flavours that use the crowded 2.4GHz band, rather than 11a, in the quieter 5GHz bands.
This has more channels and its lower range is easier on neighbours. Other companies, such as Belkin and Linksys, are also pushing Homeplug adapters.
Any increase in their use is likely to be opposed by radio amateurs, who claim that the mains data interferes with short-wave broadcasts.
David Lauder, a member of the Radio Society of Great Britain committee that monitors interference, explained that the electromagnetic environment is a valuable natural resource that existing regulations should better protect.
Even so, some products do not conform to regulations and there was pressure to relax standards by a substantial amount.
"This would allow a massive increase in the man-made interference levels on the short wave bands," said Lauder.
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