We've been hearing about the supposed wonders of "broadband over powerlines" (BPL) for many, many years. There were some reports in the mid-nineties about the technology, where it was made pretty clear that powerlines really couldn't handle BPL at any serious scale, but that hasn't stopped plenty of companies from trying over the years -- nearly all of which have received tons of hype from the press and the FCC (who desperately wants another offering to hit the market, so they can claim that there's real competition in broadband). Back in 1999, for example, we wrote about a company that claimed it was ready to offer exobit speeds over powerlines. Where are they now? Wish we knew, as most of us are surfing at megabits or kilobits. 2001 was supposed to be a big year for BPL too. That didn't happen. 2003 saw the story pop up again. In 2004, FCC chair Michael Powell declared it "the great broadband hope," when "great broadband joke" was much more accurate. Various hyped up trials were being shut down as failures. And on, and on and on again. Over at Broadband Reports, they note that every year, we're told it's the "year of BPL" and every year, it seems to go nowhere at all. Yet, each time the press picks up on the story as if it's got a chance, without ever looking at why it's had so many problems. In the meantime, we've recently been hearing about plans for broadband over gas lines. Perhaps that can be the "great broadband hope/joke" for the next decade.
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