Broadband Over Power Lines — This Time, They Mean It

from the shocking dept

One of the longest-running objects of unfulfilled hype is broadband over power lines. Back in 1999, some company was almost ready to deliver exabit speeds (apparently that’s a 1 with 18 zeros after it bits per second). We’re still waiting on that, but every couple years, another story that BPL is almost ready pops up. There have been some small-scale commercial rollouts of the technology, but nothing that comes even close to fulfilling the hype built up around the technology. But power company TXU said today it would roll out BPL across 70 percent of its grid, potentially reaching a couple million people. What’s curious about the announcement, though, is that it’s less focused on selling broadband to customers through their power outlets, but more about how TXU will use the broadband capability to monitor and maintain its network and do automatic meter reading and things of that nature. It’s a much less sexy application, but perhaps where BPL actually has some value — at least killing the time while we’re waiting for the power to send terabytes of data to our lamps and washing machines.

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Comments on “Broadband Over Power Lines — This Time, They Mean It”

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Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Power companies already send data over power lines. Power Line Carrier (PLC) is used for command and control but it is narrow-band low frequency (100 to 180 kHz) and low speed.

Current BPL is wide-band and uses 2.46 to 38 MHz. It offers 1-3 mBits/sec to the end point.

Power lines carrying a signal will just be a huge antenna creating noise in the 2.46 to 38MHz range.

HF/VHF Users
HF Users
Amateur Radio Service
Marine and Land Mobile

Which is why the FCC will never allow it to pass on those frequencies.

googly_eyes says:

Re: FCC approval

As I understand it, from a presentation to our HAM radio group, they have approved it – at least preliminarily, that or they are very close to it.

According to the draft of the proposal, the only certification that is required is done by the manufacturer of the equipment, not the finished installation. So if the install isn’t to spec, it requires a pain in the tail survey by the complainant (whomever is getting interference), and something on the order of a 6+ month wait.

The ARRL ( ) is fighting them tooth and nail on this.

anonymous coward says:

The real reason

It was explained to me by an industry insider that the real reason power companies are drooling over BoPL is so that they can change your meter to a device they can read over their net link, and fire all the meter readers out there, thus saving themselves a lot of money.

The insult comes in that the only reason they even talk of extending the service to the “public” is so that “we” can pay for the system, so they don’t have to. (those of us who remember the diablo canyon nuclear power plant in California understand what a burden these projects can be to the public)

The other serious issue is the interference these systems cause to ham radio frequencies and other public frequecy spaces.

BPL it’s not just another bad idea, it’s… no, it’s just a bad idea.

BJC (profile) says:

Re: No Subject Given

When power co’s can read your meter in real time, they can manage demand much more effectively, thus reducing the number of polluting generation plants they need to build to satisfy peak demand.

With the ability to meter in real time they can, for example, offer people discounts for consuming their electricity at off-peak times. You could save money by running your clothes dryer after 11pm when demand is lower, or making sure your electric furnace / air conditioner is off when usage peaks between 4 and 6 pm weekdays.

One study I read says power co’s could save enough money simply by being able to gauge and manage this peak demand to fund the BoPL system in its entirety.

mr. synical says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

And I have some prime Florida land I’d like to sell to you (it even has a bridge on it).

Since when has the energy industry EVER passed savings on to their customers? Stockholders, maybe, but customers? Don’t hold your breath.

No, I believe they will try and stick the cost to the customers, as usual, crying that they can’t afford to fund something intended to “serve the public” and waltz away to the bank with the savings they make. (and to be REALLY synical, I’m guessing they will even ask the Government to help subsidize the whole thing too, thus whacking us twice).

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