Still Waiting On Broadband Over Powerlines

from the fat-pipe-dreams dept

For quite some time — nearly ten years — we’ve been hearing about the supposed benefits of broadband over powerlines (BPL) and how it would deliver a new competitor into the broadband market. The only problem is that it’s never gone anywhere, despite the neverending hype. So here we are, in 2007… and BPL is still going nowhere. One BPL company is now trying a bit of a different tack (perhaps since BPL as a broadband technology doesn’t seem to work too well) by pitching its systems as eco-friendly tools that let people remotely control their appliances. The NY Post almost gets distracted enough by that claim to almost miss the fact that yet another power company has tried BPL, but doesn’t plan to expand its use of the technology. So, in case you were wondering, yes, BPL’s still out there, and still treading water.

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Comments on “Still Waiting On Broadband Over Powerlines”

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Ajax 4Hire (profile) says:

Re: BPL may be DOA...

Communication over Powerline will work but will NOT work at the speeds you want over the distance you want.

Keep in mind that your entire network snakes out of your house and is “seen” by all of your neighbors who share the same down-transformer. And you “see” all of their traffic as well.

You also did not mention the big-honking Capacitor that you had to plug into your Dryer 220V outlet. This bridges the two phases of power coming into your abode. Otherwise, only 1/2 of your AC power outlets would work.

Rob says:

Re: Re: Boohoo

Actually, the interference affects numerous commercial and safety systems. Did you know that airplanes flying over the ocean and ships at sea rely on the same affected frequencies and that people can DIE if these frequencies are messed with?

Next time you are on an airplane over the ocean and your pilot can’t get through to ATC on the HF band to declare an emergency because of BPL interference I’ll say “boo hoo” for you too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The NTIA isn't too keen about BPL either

The National Telecommunications Infrastructure Administration, operated 59,000 government allocated frequencies in the 1.7-80MHz frequency range. BPL is known to cause hazardous interference to communications in this frequency segment. Likewise, BPL is likely to be succeptable to interference from normal radio communications. So BPL causes harm to existing licensed operations, including FCC licensed Amatuer Radio operators AND is likely to be disrupted by external radio communications. The power-lines are not shielded.
Here is a link to the NTIA Executive Summary concerning BPL:

Competition is good, when it is leagal.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ham Radio Lobbyists

“The ham radio lobbyists…”

Yeah, those overly funded, hugely powerful, well-represented ham radio lobbyists. I hear they have more clout on the Hill than telcos and engergy companies.

Know what? They also control Vegas, Hollywood, Wall Street, and the diamond industry in Antwerp. Michelangelo was the founder of their society.

Dan Brown will have a book out exposing them next year. A screenplay will follow. Harrison Ford is set to play the main ham operator. He drives around in this awesome Pontiac Sunfire with massive antennas on it, and a customer license plate that’s his ham license number. It’s going to be a blockbuster when he keys up his Mic, “Hello. You’re in Pennsylvania? No kidding. What time is it there? Wow, cool.” I hear Audrey Tatou will be the love interest when he magically gets a connection across the pond to Le Havre.

Ah, the Ham lobbyists. If only we could reduce the influence of this underground society, this secret cabal that is the Ham Radio guys.

Ajax 4Hire (profile) says:

There is no way Broadband-over-Powerline will ever

be able to effectively compete with COAX (Cable Company) or Twisted-Pair (Phone Company)

I know people think: “Power company distributes everywhere, why can’t they also do Internet?”

Why? because the power system is specifically designed to REJECT anything but 60Hz (50Hz in some areas). You CANNOT two-way commucate more than a few 100 bits-per-second with a 60Hz bandwidth.

No way is the power company going to get to 10Mbps, 100Mbps on the power line today. And when the Power Company which moves slower than the Phone Company gets around to installing AC Bypass Capacitors around 50/60Hz Transformers to carry the 10MHz signal, the other guys will be in the 100Mbps to 1000Mbps range.

The Power Company will never catch up.

Stick to the Linux philosophy:
Do one thing and do it well.

G H says:

BPL causes Harmful Interfereance to Licensed Radio

A major problem with BLS is that it causes harmful interfereance to FCC Licensed Radio Operators, which according to most interpretation of the FCC Rules makes it illegal.

The signals that are sent over the power lines generate high power Radio waves and harmonics that are in, atleast, the HAM radio band and disrupt long range High Frequency radio communications. Additionally, as demonstrated in a test they are also vulnerable to interferance and can have relability issues from HF radio use even at low power.

Joseph Durnal (user link) says:

BPL = Snake Oil

I’ve always thought that BPL was some sort of gimmick that wouldn’t really work. Power lines were designed to do one thing. If they can’t get a DSL signal to go more than a few miles from the CO on telephone lines, which are designed to carry information, I don’t expect they will do much better with power lines. Not to mention the effects of radiated RF interfering with communications systems around the country.

jb says:


I had understood that one of the largest hurdles to BPL was the regulated power industry. Personally, I’m going to be moving within a year to a location that has no broad band offerings. (other than through the sky) As far as I’ve been able to tell, even the wireless phone offerings are not offered. And don’t get me wrong, this is a nice area commutable to Raleigh-Durham NC.

The companies see these areas as not having enough people to get a ROI I guess. So for those of us who live there, and it isn’t a remote area, BPL seamed like a very good alternative. I was personally watching the local power company’s reports on the topic until it got hung up in regulations. So I say if it works and is faster than a 28.8 dial up, which is all the crappy phone lines give in a lot of places, bring it on!!!

Hieronymous B says:


What are you talking about? Here in the Midwest where Frontier Communications rulz and dial-up still reigns, we’re still waiting on high speed internet (prolly still ten years away at the latest guess according to Frontier). There is the dialup-over-satellite option that HughesNet pretends is comparable, but that’s only the marketing pitch.

Things were better before the ATT breakup.

Kuru Oujou (user link) says:

Re: Hah!

What are you talking about? I’m in the midwest and I’m using cable…in fact, we were one of the people who got cable later than others, and that was about 4 years ago. I haven’t even heard of this “Frontier Communications” Your talking about…it’s not the midwest as a whole, it’s probably your little out-of-the-way area.

FiOS says:

Broadband over power? Meh, that will never take hold as a viable alternative to IDSN, DSL, or Coax.

FiOS on the otherhand is cheaper as comapred to other technologies over longer ditances, (short distance it’s actually more expensive) faster, potentially more reliable (depending on the provider) and has fewer issues inherent with copper tech (think attenuation).

Broadband over power will wriggle and die much like the ill fated metropolotan WiFi solutions everyone seems to be so excited about.

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