Power line telecommunication (PLT) technology offers cheap and fast ways for providing in-home broadband services and local area networking. Its main advantage is due to the possibility of using the pre-existing electrical grid as a communication channel. Nevertheless, technical challenges arise from the difficulty of operating on a hostile medium, not designed for communication purposes, characterized by complex channel modeling and by varying time response. These aspects put practical problems for designers and testers in the assessment of network quality of service performance parameters such as the throughput, the latency, the jitter, and the reliability. The measurement of these parameters has not yet been standardized so that there do not exist reference test set-ups and measurement methodologies (i.e. the type of isolation from the ac main, the observation time and the number of experiments, the measurement uncertainty and so on). Consequently, experiments executed by adopting different methods may lead to incompatible measurement results, thus making it also impossible to have reliable comparisons of different PLT modems. Really, the development of standard procedures is a very difficult task because the scenarios in which the PLT modems can work are very wide and then the application of an exhaustive approach (in which all the parameters influencing the PLT performance should be considered) would be very complex and time consuming, thus making the modem characterization very expensive. In this paper, the authors propose a methodological approach to develop an efficient measurement procedure able to reliably assess the performance of PLT modems (in terms of network quality of service parameters) with a minimum number of experiments. It is based on both creating a reconfigurable grid to which real disturbing loads are connected and implementing an original design of the experiment technique based on the effects of the uncertainty of the measurement results. Methods are also provided to analyze measurement results and to estimate the measurement uncertainty. Â© 2009 IOP Publishing Ltd.
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