Broadband Over Powerlines Is Dead, Dead, Dead

from the say-goodbye dept

For many, many years we've pointed out the reasons why broadband over powerlines was unlikely to succeed. Despite the FCC calling it the "the great broadband hope," many people referred to it as "the great broadband joke." The technology just wasn't able to deliver what was promised and certainly couldn't scale effectively. Now, as Broadband Reports points out, one of the big "flagship" deployments of BPL, in Dallas, has been sold and is going to shut down internet access. Instead, the buyer is just going to use it for monitoring the electrical grid. Given that this is just the latest in a long line of failures -- and that the technology has never worked up to the level promised, can we finally put to rest the idea that BPL is a legitimate "third pipe" for broadband?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 5th, 2008 @ 6:17pm

    If Power System Engineers who have worked at putting Digital Transmission Line Protective Relaying on a power grid for 20 or so years can not make that work why would any one believe that high speed internet digital signals can be made to work?

     

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  2.  
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    WA7FFU, May 5th, 2008 @ 6:37pm

    Now maybe all the SWLs and Hams and CBers in those locations can go back to doing something more productive with the radio spectrum than EFI pollution.

     

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  3.  
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    Jake, May 5th, 2008 @ 7:40pm

    Having seen broadband-over-power mentioned by name in one of those pump-and-dump stock scams, I really shouldn't be surprised.
    I don't think we should give up on the idea entirely, though; it's demonstrably possible, even though the technology's not mature enough that it's really practical yet. I just hope it goes back to the lab rather than straight to the history books under 'Great Scientific Failures'.

     

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  4.  
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    MikeHe, May 5th, 2008 @ 7:51pm

    This technic is not practical now. There are too many practical restrictions.
    However I think maybe 20 or 30 years later we can try to do that again.

     

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  5.  
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    James, May 5th, 2008 @ 8:03pm

    I don't know - here in Cincinnati, OH we've had BPL for a few years now with great success (Current Communications). In fact, I even have my phone service going over the power lines. All signs here point to the company doing very well and expanding its market, and the speeds are as promised.

     

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  6.  
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    Haywood, May 5th, 2008 @ 8:08pm

    Jake and MikeHe

    Jake: I don't see how the fact that electricity goes through many transformers can be overcome.

    MikeHe: Come on, in 20 to 30 years, internet over wires will be history. Very possible the power grid will be history.

     

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  7.  
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    MikeHe, May 5th, 2008 @ 8:32pm

    Haywood

    About power grid, I can not see any replacement of it, so it will be there still.
    And I think high-speed wireless network do harm to people's health, that's why I don't like it much.

     

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  8.  
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    Michael Long, May 5th, 2008 @ 9:32pm

    Not broadband...

    It may not be great for broadband, but I'd think that it would be great for not only grid monitoring, but for "smart" appliance monitoring and control (throttling air conditioners, refrigerators, and so on). You don't need megabytes up/down for that.

     

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  9.  
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    Doug Robb, May 5th, 2008 @ 11:22pm

    Horses for courses

    I think you are correct in what is happening in the market but in Australia read below for some surprises. I think its an idea waiting for a time/place/niche - all technologies that their strengths and weaknesses.

    From report:
    "Trials of the service in two of Australia’s more remote communities, Tasmania and Victoria, as well as a handful of customers closer to Melbourne and Canberra. The ease of installation on both ends was a huge selling point, and the two year initial trial received rave reviews from customers. Everyone liked how easy it was, how far it reached and the speed (as much as 200mbps in some cases)."

    So why didn't it go ahead?

    From Report:

    "In order to work at its maximum efficiency, the technology needs a repeater station every kilometer or so. This is no big deal, until you think about how large Australia is, how scattered the towns are, and how many the utilities would have to build in order to service them all. Even if the government subsidized it, the cost of a full roll out would be prohibitive. The very nature of what the technology is designed to do, serve remote and underpopulated areas, makes the return on the cost negligible.

    Without a significant return / cost ratio it isn’t worth full deployment. If all of their cash is sunk into a roll out, utilities wouldn’t be able to compete with companies like Telstra to get the market share they’d need in urban areas to be successful in outlying areas. Once again big telcos win the battle before it even starts, and so a brilliant technology dies."

    See for full story google out "broadband-over-power-lines-dies-a-quiet-death" at freeaccess.com.au

     

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  10.  
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    Igor The Troll, May 6th, 2008 @ 12:23am

    Broadband Over Powerlines in Japan

    Broadband over electrical wires is getting popular in Japan!

    Ha, Ha! The Japanese make everything work, even being that they do not invent it!

     

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  11.  
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    Steve, May 6th, 2008 @ 1:18am

    Amybe not powerlines, but what about home electrical wiring

    Even if broadband is not possible over the grid, would a low speed network over the electrical wires inside a building be possible? I was thinking of the possibility of controlling lights and appliances.

     

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  12.  
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    Steve, May 6th, 2008 @ 1:20am

    Re: Not broadband...

    Great idea. Sorry I posted my comment on the same subject separately.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 1:56am

    Re: Amybe not powerlines, but what about home electrical wiring

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 4:17am

    Re: Horses for courses

    "and so a brilliant technology dies"

    Well, it's not so brilliant if it needs repeated every km.

     

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  15.  
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    freak3dot, May 6th, 2008 @ 5:14am

    X10

    "Even if broadband is not possible over the grid, would a low speed network over the electrical wires inside a building be possible? I was thinking of the possibility of controlling lights and appliances."

    Steve - Check out X10 technology.

    The only reason I am not interested in BPL is X10. I doubt the two will play together nicely.

    freak3dot

     

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  16.  
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    Jessomy, May 6th, 2008 @ 7:15am

    will my dialed up connection be working in future of power lines to the internet?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    George, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    I've always suspected that BPL_for_Internet was a scan to excite the vulture capitalists....and once the dust settled, the only real use was meter reading/monitoring by the utility.

    Events seem to be proving me right....

     

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  18.  
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    Cunk, May 6th, 2008 @ 11:22am

    Wrong utility

    Everyone knows that natural gas lines are the next bug thing in broadband delivery.

    http://www.news.com/Gas-pipe-broadband/2100-1034_3-5945204.html

     

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  19.  
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    Chris, May 6th, 2008 @ 1:13pm

    Radio

    I can finally use my ham radio again!!!

     

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  20.  
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    Observer, May 6th, 2008 @ 3:47pm

    If BPL is dead, we owe that fact solely to market forces. It would be nice to think BPL died because the FCC was doing its job - that they gave rational consideration to the problem of spectrum pollution from BPL (and the extensive technical data confirming it) and acted to protect the usability of the radio spectrum for licensed users - but they did not. Instead, the FCC did everything it could to stonewall, obfiscate, and ignore the technical community and every licensed spectrum user whose comments did not support the agency's cheerleading. Shame on the FCC's leadership for being so blatently political. Shame.

     

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  21.  
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    Tony, May 7th, 2008 @ 7:05pm

    For your information, the term BPL as applied to Current Communications is somewhat of a misnomer. The fact is most of their network - all of the backbone and distribution - is actually fiber optic cable. They are overbuilding the areas they serve with fiber and the only copper involved is the electrical dropwire to the house, so the signal is not going through a transformer.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    The Buds, May 25th, 2008 @ 10:09pm

    Re:Anonymous Coward

    1st admitted to much resistance in copper power wire for speed , But the tech. is there , haven't figured out how to make enough money or interest and limited applications . 2 companys in Texas had 2,000,000 subscribers ready to go! But to me , A Direct access to every outlet in my Home for Data , Privacy , Home Security and more nuisance Factor from the Semi Concious Neo-Phyts and Neighbor hood Vigilantes Slinking in the wall sockets of your life due to the lacking they have in those mundane that they either want to get you busted OR Vicariously live through your contentment with your own ability to entertain yourself without needing to use what another man does in the privacy of his Home for you personal Rude , Unethical , Down Right Unneighborly , But It's wide open For Civil Rights Violations and will be used so ! Both Criminal and Civil penalties Apply : Prove It !

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Art, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 5:21pm

    Re: Broadband Over Powerlines in Japan

    Yeah they are also dying a slow death by breathing their POLLUTED AIR and are being trampled by having WAY too MANY PEOPLE! Maybe they are working on the WRONG PROBLEM,and its not BPL....Bruhahahaha!

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    BK, Jan 19th, 2009 @ 6:37am

    BPL

    While Current sold the internet portion of the network in Dallas, the grid monitoring service is actually raking in the cash for them and working very well. I believe they have just discovered that the grid analysis/smartgrid service will make them more money with less effort; Michael Long hit the nail on the head with his comment from what I have been told. The internet service in Dallas did get the promised speeds, in my case it actually got more than promised; we were getting 15 mbit synchronous without any interference to the ham radio I used in the next room.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Tim, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Broadband Over Powerlines in Japan

    WOW ART, you;re such an IDIOT, do us a favor and just fucking kill yourself. Why you mix politics to technology.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Buck, Jan 30th, 2009 @ 7:52pm

    BPL Dead ?

    Hell No BPL is not DEAD. This technology is the answer to Rural Broadband Deployment. And it works. This will become THE ANSWER for those in the country. I suggest you do a search on IBEC. Don't take my word for it.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike D, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 11:23am

    BPL works fine here...have the net in several different rooms. Way better than wireless.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    mhey, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 9:12pm

    hei!

    how is it that broadband over powerline work even thruogh rural areas and especially in the last miles.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Jun Lao, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 11:53am

    BPL drives stocks up up up

    In the Philippines, PLDT (Largest local telco giant) just bought majority shares from Meralco (Largest Power distributor) and plans test by Dec 2009 (this year)

    Stocks have jumped for Meralco, P100 in Jan to its current P272 stock price +63% in 9 mos. (as of July 28 09),

    I'm placing all my money in this overpriced stock- if you look 2 years along the line, stock value could increase by 1000%-

    My prediction- P2,000 per share by 2011, conservative... lets see...

    For all intents and purposes- BPL works, with synnergies with telco and power operators, its the milleniums best symbiotic relationship...

     

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