BPL Lives On, Again

from the 9-lives dept

Broadband over powerline has gotten lots and lots of attention and investment over the past decade or so, but remains little more than a black hole of hype. Every once in a while, a story comes along to remind us that despite its near-total lack of traction, BPL abides. Now it could apparently be in line to get some money from the economic stimulus bill. We’ve been skeptical of any broadband stimulus, in large part because it looked more like handouts to incumbents than anything meaningful. But putting more money towards BPL, given its market failure and lack of progress, would be shambolic.

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Comments on “BPL Lives On, Again”

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some old guy (user link) says:

Re: Does BPL make sense for rural broadband?

As stupid as an idea BPL is for urban areas it might be easier to implement in sticks.


“The Sticks” has the worst power infrastructure around. You need excessively clean power signals to deliver bandwidth over those lines. Which means the only place it actually works is in brand spankin new build-outs in dense population zones. ie: the only place it works is where its least needed.

It has been a nightmare and a moneypit to everyone else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Interested Parties

Not suprising based on the following:

Google in $100 Million BPL Investment – July 7, 2005

“Google, Goldman Sachs and the Hearst Corporation have ponied up a combined $100 million to invest in Current Communications Group, hoping to rapidly expand the reach of broadband throughout the country.”

The rest of the article:http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3518341

zcat (profile) says:

BPL is based on voodoo physics

I seem to recall the original premise was that high voltage power lines have a magnetic field around them which can act as a ‘waveguide’, allowing you to send microwave signals and thus huge amounts of bandwidth along the lines. Anyone with half a clue about electrical engineering or basic radio theory will immediately recognise that this is utter bullshit. Unfortunately the investors and politicians suckered into believing the hype don’t have half a clue about electrical engineering or radio theory and aren’t even smart enough to seek the opinion of a qualified and impartial third party.

nasch says:

Re: BPL is based on voodoo physics

Anyone with half a clue about electrical engineering or basic radio theory will immediately recognise that this is utter bullshit.

The IEEE doesn’t agree with you, and I’m pretty sure they have people with a great deal more than half a clue about electrical engineering and basic radio theory.

* IEEE 643-2004 “Guide for Power-Line Carrier Applications” is a standard for communication over the transmission line network (above 69kV).
* IEEE P1675 “Standard for Broadband over Power Line Hardware” is a working group working on hardware installation and safety issues.
* IEEE P1775 “Powerline Communication Equipment – Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Requirements – Testing and Measurement Methods” is a working group focused on PLC equipment, electromagnetic compatibility requirements, and testing and measurement methods.
* IEEE P1901 “IEEE P1901 Draft Standard for Broadband over Power Line Networks: Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications” is a working group for delivering broadband over power lines. The aim is to define medium access control and physical layer specifications for all classes of BPL devices – from long distance connections to those within subscriber premises. Many companies and standard bodies are participating in the developing IEEE P1901 standard including HomePlug Powerline Alliance, UPA, CEPCA and OPERA; this means a good chance for a unified power line communication standard in the future. Launch is expected in 2008.
* IEEE BPL Study Group — “Standardization of Broadband Over Power Line Technologies” drove the creation of the BPL related P1901 working groups. It still meets time-to-time looking to create new working groups if needed.

chris (profile) says:

the third pipe dream

bashing BPL for being a total failure is a lot of fun, but it doesn’t change the fact that we need a third viable option for broadband besides cable and DSL.

the more competition in that space the better off we will all be, even if we choose to stay with cable or DSL.

thisis why muni-fiber, muni-wifi, and all those other broadband projects need to get off the ground despite whining and complaining from incumbents.

i would like to see the mobile providers step up and offer their broadband services with speeds and caps that would allow them to compete with residential providers.

of course, it will never happen, since there are really only two mobile carriers (verizon and at&t) who both have dsl and fiber businesses to protect, even though it means they could expand into regions that they do not currently have monopolies on.

nasch says:

Re: the third pipe dream

We need more competition in the broadband market, but it doesn’t have to be a different technology does it? A few different DSL providers and a few different cable companies would do nicely. It would be better to figure out how to get that to happen than to fund an inferior technology just to get more competition.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Broadband over powerline

Agreed, but on the plus side, it signals Obama’s willingness to bargain with Republicans. The GOP has (essentially) admitted that they MUST have campaign donations from big business, and if Obama is really going to “reach across the aisle” he has to live with that as long as the party of the “Welfare for the Wealthy” (aka GOP) is as powerful as it is. Overall, I admire Obama for at least trying.

zcat (profile) says:

Not saying that you can’t send broadband over powerlines in the same way you can send broadband over telephone lines (except that powerlines have a lot more noise, bloody great inductors all over the place which block the signal, and aren’t a twisted pair so no shielding effect), but (and I wish I could find the original article) early on in the same some self-described ‘genius’ was making claims that it would work like a microwave link down a waveguide and gigabit speeds would be possible. It’s not that simple and throwing more money at the problem isn’t going to change the physics.

FatSteve says:

What happens in the substation & transformer?

So we have BPL coming in on the 11kV feed to a distribution substation. Does it pass through all the oil/vacumn/SF6 circuit breakers the same as the 11 kV, and every thing we do to maintain supply to the customer maintains the BPL as well?

How does this work with the 11kv/415 v transformer? Is a seperate transformer required for the BPL signals operating at a very different frequency to the 50Hz mains? What failure modes could this transformer have, and how are they protected against?

I know Americans are much more willing to work live, but if I have to work on HV gear it will be isolated and earthed and I will not care what that does to your BPL if there is the remotest effect on my safety.

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