Can We Declare Broadband Over Powerlines Officially Dead?

from the bpl-was-doa dept

We’ve been hearing about broadband over powerlines (BPL) for over a decade, supposedly as the savior of broadband competition. There was just one problem: the technology never worked well enough to scale in any reasonable means. In the mid-90s, we had heard a prediction that BPL could only work in very small communities, and only at a limited range and speed. Yet, over the years, there were so many stories about BPL actually making headway in the market, we began to wonder if maybe (just maybe) someone had figured out how to make it scale. It turns out the answer is no. Despite being labeled the “great broadband hope” by former FCC boss Michael Powell, BPL has been nothing but a great broadband joke from the beginning, never getting more than 5,000 subscribers. Now, Broadband Reports that one of the highest profile BPL rollouts is soon to be shut down. The company that built the network and hyped it for years tried to sell it off, and having failed to find any actual buyers, had the city take it over. The city considered just shutting it down immediately, but has agreed to keep it going for a year or so, when it will likely be turned off for good.

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Comments on “Can We Declare Broadband Over Powerlines Officially Dead?”

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Matt says:

BPL = crap

I remember I had family working for panasonic who told me that BPL folks had snuck their way into the offices of high level corporate side, and that basically they were pulling all the sales hype money could buy. You know, super efficient, blazing fast, etc. When you see that their goal is to sell these switches that can handle a BPL connection for like 40-80 thou, it’s easy to tell where the scam is hidden.

FatSteve says:

Does this only work on the 230...

Does this only work on the 230 (110 V in the US) link to the consumer, or is it meant to work on the 11kV distribution network as well? Either you still need fibre or co-ax connecting the substations, or you need your signal to be able to survive the brutal isolation procedures used at medium/high voltage. Google "spiking gun" for an example.

Ima Fish says:

Much like perpetual motion ...

Much like perpetual motion machines and cars that run on water, the powers that be, the status quo, the Internet Industrial Complex has killed off BPL to save their asses.

BPL simply offers less latency and more bilateral effervescence at a much lower cost than traditional broadband.

In fact, if BPL was ever allowed to be implemented it would pay the end users for using it. The more data that flows through the wires helps to push the electricity along the way which decreases the loss of wasted electricity through inductance. Those tremendous savings would be passed to users. And the highest users would have the highest rewards.

It’s too bad really.

fprintf (user link) says:

I remember the firestorm that ...

I remember the firestorm that BPL had with radio control modelers. Specifically there is a subgroup of fliers that flies very expensive, long range gliders that were worried about the electronic emissions that were a by-product of BPL. As it turned out, it was a lot of worry for nothing, but for a time there it seemed like the FCC was taking a hands-off approach that was going to destroy the hobby (and multi-thousand $$ planes) of many fliers.

I think the current RC technology has moved on to spread-spectrum now, so it’d probably be a non-issue. However I am glad BPL died as it was a really nasty way of forcing one set of constituents to deal with the unintended consequences of another set.

Mark Regan says:

Another problem is that the ...

Another problem is that the broad spectrum "white noise" emitted by the BPL raises the noise floor, and thereby interfering with the ability of FCC licensed amateur radio operators to communicate using many of the frequencies they are assigned as primary users. Some of these communications involve relays of safety related matters.

Fiber optic is the best way to go for all parties. It is time that the ISP industry realizes that.

Jim says:

I have it running in my house....

I have it running in my house. I have a dedicated music server in a WiFi Dead zone in the furnace room (between the water heater and the furnace). Works like a charm.
I have hooked up other devices that I do not want interruptions on. With WiFi I can lose signal or have the quality degrade significantly when the microwave comes on (mine or the neighbors) or even at times that seem to have no root cause.
In my house hold setting it works great.

Providing large scale broadband over powerlines might be an issue. Even though my home set up is fairly responsive I do not have massive through-put. I would suspect up-sizing the next work to a neighborhood or community would result in very poor through-put (maybe dial-up would even be faster that point).

Art says:


BPL causes MASSIVE noise to the Amateur radio ham bands or OUR HOBBY,imagine one day some jerk invented something that killed YOUR hobby.Now rethink what you said!You have ENOUGH ways to get internet : 1.CABLE MODEM,2.FIOS,3.DSL,4.dial up and 5.sattelite internet to name the ones I know of.THIRD VENDOR????Oh yeah WIFI AND WIMAX are two more!We need BPL ,Why???

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