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BPL - Broadband over Power Line technology

The following comments are from a ongoing conversation I am haveing on BPL

I remember being told about this technology not long after I was told about ADSL
(only seemed like a few months). By a reporter friend of my families, must have been in the early to mid 90s...
its taking its time getting here I guess its the ol Trickle down technology. Could be a fix for our rural friends.
Manassas Ready to Model BPL Success

This story covers the launch of a broadband over powerline (BPL) service in Manassas, Va.
The network is owned and operated by Communications Technologies (COMTek). It has 700 customers and a waiting list of 500 more.
COMTek says that the network passes about 12,500 homes and 2,500 businesses in the Washington, D.C. suburb.
The deployment was done over two years. Even before its launch, the project was pointed to by proponents of the technology,
which they say can bring broadband to areas bypassed by cable modems and digital subscriber line (DSL) services.
They also say it can offer competition to these providers. Finally, proponents say that utilities can cut their
costs by using the network to monitor their power grids and read meters. Skeptics are unconvinced by the technology
and say that utilities will have a difficult time competing against cable and phone companies.

BPL Project on Track in Greater Cincinnati

Current Communications, which is working with Duke Energy to roll out
broadband over powerline (BPL) services in Greater Cincinnati, has slowed deployments as it gears up to introduce
its second-generation technology.
The plan still is to offer services to 250,000 homes within three years.
The project began in 2004 and, so far, has reached about 60,000 homes. The company won't say,
however, how many households actually have signed up for the service — though
analysts put the take-up rate at about 20 percent of homes.
The story gives details on rollout plans and includes a claim by the company that customers taking the $29.95-per-month
product have a 95 percent satisfaction level.

First response

Because its not a viable solution.

Seems it is viable for COMtec and Duke Energy...
it wouldn't be for telstra but I dont care bout them. I wonder if they had put
as much research and money into it as adsl would it be viable then?

Published: Friday 19 January 2007

Broadband over power lines is set to overtake cable and DSL connectivity in the US,
according to industry watchers.,39024661,39165303,00.htm

May 05, 2006 News Release
The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC)
today took action late last month to foster the deployment of a new broadband service --
broadband over power lines (BPL) -- to California consumers. BPL service uses the electric
utilities' power lines to carry broadband signals into a consumer's home,
thus solving the "last mile" problem and increasing choice for consumers in Internet broadband providers.

Second response

Which in no way impacts Australia. There are serious issue with the RF interference from BPL
that will ensure it never sees the light of day in Australia.

BPL is a technology that can see broadband delivered at speeds of up to 200Mbps through a normal electrical wall socket.

Broadband over Powerline (BPL) technology has taken a step closer to commercial reality with the first successful
Australian trials of VoIP phone calls over a BPL network.
The VoIP calls have successfully linked to land line and mobile phones as part of a trial being jointly carried out in
Queanbeyan by energy services business Country Energy and Australian broadband phone company engin........

No doubt, Telstra, which has enjoyed a virtual monopoly over the last mile fixed line telecommunications access to
homes for an eternity, is the watching development of BPL closely.

Australia has a history of taking on new schemes that are not the best available -
too many useless bureaucrats want to put their little fingers in.

The RF issue is, I believe, solved. Some years ago a different system was tried in the US and was installed in the
headquarters of their Amateur Radio association, the ARRL.
These people have many radio transmitters and receivers running and an extensive antenna system.
They reported no interference while the BPL was running.

If we could only get some intelligence in Govt.
and get what works instead of letting politics dictate,
we could have a working system. Of course,
Telstra would try to stop it, they will certainly try to see that "it never sees the light of day

I wonder if the money the government wants to put into broadband could do anything to resolve these issues!

I would rather see some facts on how far this technology has evolved and if this
"theoretically" superior technology will ever be available in Australia.


Tas test on BPL

These systems have shown the potential for symmetric and full duplex communication
well in excess of 1 Gbit/s in each direction.

this technology can completely avoid the interference issues associated
with utilizing shared spectrum while offering the greater flexibility for modulation
and protocols found for any other type of microwave system.

Modern BPL systems use OFDM modulation which allows the mitigation of interference
with radio services by removing specific frequencies used.

A 2001 joint study by the ARRL and HomePlug powerline alliance
showed that modems using this technique "in general that with moderate
separation of the antenna from the structure containing the HomePlug
signal that interference was barely perceptible" and interference only
happened when the "antenna was physically close to the power lines".

October 14, 2004
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday
cleared the way for power companies to roll out broadband
over power line service by approving a set of rules designed to limit
interference to other radio frequency devices such as amateur radios...
..."We'll continue to be vigilant, and we've put the tools in place," he said.
"But let me underscore that the potential for America
and the American economy is too great, too enormous, too potentially groundbreaking
to sit idly by and allow any claim of any possible technical fear
to keep us from ... the drive into America's broadband future."
..."I think we all agree that a wide deployment of BPL would benefit broadband consumers," he said.
"This is a market desperate for more competition."

Current FCC chief Kevin Martin said in a statement (pdf) that BPL
"holds great promise as a ubiquitous broadband solution that would offer
a viable alternative to cable, digital subscriber line, fiber, and wireless broadband solutions,
" and that BPL was one of the agency's "top priorities."

I think the reason that ADSL took hold rather than BPL was because when this
technology was being hailed as a great technology for the internet,
the only people at that time that would be interested in it were telcos!
because they were the only ones providing internet at that time.
so thats who the developers of the technology targeted.
In the mid 90s nobody knew that the internet would become this big and be worth this much money,
had the power companies known back then what they know now
they would have jumped at the chance to take a piece of the pie!.
In the US there are a good number of telcos supplying the market so with competition the way
it is none of them can afford to create the problems we encounter,
so yes I would expect that with their overall better level of competition it would
be difficult for BPL as a laggard to gain a foothold in the market.

In Australia we face an entirely different set of circumstances and with our telco holding a monopoly position & abusing
that, the door is wide open for an alternative who offers easy access to a broadband connection.
There are also two types of BPL they are Access BPL
[which seems to be talked about here and inhouse BPL [which usually uses the homeplug standards]

I too have a keen interest in the technology and from what ive been reading on the web so do a lot of other people.
There seem to be the ones who say that it will never be viable or never compete,
and then there are the ones that seem to think that it is more that viable
and that its the next big thing in broadband access and are willing to spend big money to
iron out any faults they run into!
When you said the above test failed I thought "Bummer" then I wondered what you meant by "failed"
I mean they trialled it and it worked..
If they tried to send and receive data and could not then I to would say that it failed.
Since reading your reply I have found out that it did not fail at all
(apart from the RF issiues that affect about 14,000 people and are yet to be ironed out!)
and in fact will be going into commercial service soon if management approve.
At this time the service will be offered on underground, rather than above ground power lines due to RF issues.
They will only provide the service to 300 homes to begin with. and in an area where ADSL already is.
My guess is that if they start seeing a good chance at ROI they will then offer it to more people
and put more money into tackling the RF issues for above ground powerlines.

Some quotes.
31 July, 2006
Country Energy (CE) is expected to supply the first commercial Broadband over Power line service in NSW
in the latter half of the year.
This means Internet surfers in regional NSW will, for the first time, have access to speeds that smash
what is available to most users in the city.
The NSW-based power distribution provider has been working for over four years on bringing the service to fruition...
Despite still needing management approval, Fietz was quietly confident the commercial pilot will proceed.
The utility has already been trialling BPL since November 2004 in Queanbeyan, near Canberra.
That trial started with a 45Mbps service from hardware supplier Mitsubishi,
but has since gone on to incorporate Mitsubishi's latest 200Mbps chip,
which is now the standard speed offered by BPL providers worldwide.
Unlike ADSL, the technical specifications of BPL provides for symmetric speeds,
allowing users to benefit from the same upload speeds as download...
...A drawback to ADSL2+ is that it's technically only available to residents that live within 1km of their exchange...
Fietz said the pilot will incorporate equipment from Mitsubishi and Schneider Electric.
Both vendors have played an active role in Australia's BPL deployments and trials to date.
Country Energy's reach is massive....Geographically its grid covers 90 per cent of NSW
Juergen Bender, an international expert on BPL and one of the people responsible for the first ever BPL trial
in Germany a decade ago, stressed that BPL is not a solution for all things.
"It will always be a niche technology," he said.
Wherever cable or DSL are seen as the incumbent broadband access technologies,
BPL will find it tough to compete, he said.
End quotes.;597329701;fp;8;fpid;0

So in some ways theres still hope..
even if it takes a few more years to resolve the RF issues its avalible now for people who
live in areas where power lines are underground..
like most (if not all) new housing developments,
and they are the ones that are usually stuck on a pair gain.

From the US
"We are at an inflection point in the industry," agreed Ralph Vogel, spokesmen for,
a Los Angeles-based BPL integrator.
"Its position is similar to that of DSL in the late 1990s: people have heard of it,
and while we were previously not quite there yet with the technology, we are now."

Allen Pitts, spokesman for the ham radio parent organization, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) in Newington,
Conn., said that the utilities installing the latest technology
(including the ones in Cincinnati and Texas) are not a problem since the frequencies they use are "notched" to avoid ham frequencies.,129506-c,broadband/article.html

Despite the alleged problems presented here and on other sites, BPL is coming,
you would be surprised if you heard about the amount of infrastructure
that is currently being installed that will deliver it.
You will not hear about how they have solved those issues, because the commercial trials
are strictly commercial and the results and fixes are trade secrets,
which is why the answers to those problems are not reported.

I wouldn't say get rid of telstra altogether.
But I would certainly get rid of my land line if I did not need it for the net!
And it would be interesting to see Telstras new price plan when "true" competition arrives.

They will be forced, yelling and screaming, to compete. Besides,
VoIP will be free for landlines anyway and for mobile use, will see a huge reduction in inter-connect costs.
However, it is yet to be seen if BOPL can compete with DSL and Wireless services especially in terms of bandwidth.

In discussing the costs of BPL, one thing which is completely ignored here so far is that the BPL,
as far the power utilities are concerned,
is not just about using the existing infrastructure to earn some extra revenue.
The potential savings for the utilities in enabling 'smart' power network can be very substantial:

*"...Benefits of a smart grid

But the impetus to install BPL is not a desire by the power utilities to compete with AT&T or Time Warner,
Rodin said. Rather, offering Internet service is an associated benefit of the power companies moving to
"smart grids" that include components such as sensors and interactive controls.
He pointed out that today a power company doesn't know that a transformer has failed until a customer calls to complain
about the lights being out, but with a smart grid, faster responses and proactive maintenance would be possible.
Thereafter, offering retail Internet service is icing on the cake, he indicated.

The benefits of a smart grid include smaller power outages and less loss of energy in transmission.
Every day in the U.S. an average of 500,000 people experience a power failure of at least two hours,
said Clark Gellings, vice president of the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit research consortium in Palo Alto, Calif.
The resulting annual loss of productivity has been pegged at US$180 billion, he added.

But a smart grid ought to be able to cut those outages by 80 percent,
he estimated. About 7 percent of power is lost in transmission,
and smart grids should cut that loss by 10 percent, he added.

Meanwhile, power customers could have smart electric meters that automatically report usage,
eliminating the need for meter readers. The smart meters would allow additional features,
such as discounts for those who cut their usage during peak hours, sources agreed.

The other thing to keep in mind is that most of the power companies have had the guts ripped out of them
by their respective state governments for years and the truth be known their existing infrastructure is a mess.
The beauty of BPL is that it kills 2 birds with 1 stone.

PISCATAWAY, N.J., USA, 13 March 2007 – The effort to create a broadband-over-powerline (BPL)
standard at the IEEE has passed a significant milestone. The working group for this standard,
which contains major companies at all points of the BPL value chain, has developed over
400 requirements for the baseline BPL standard and issued a call for proposals to obtain technical solutions
for systems that meet these requirements.
Proposals are due by June 4.
The standard, IEEE P1901™, “Standard for Broadband over Power Line Networks:
Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications”,
will be a comprehensive specification needed to send high-speed digital data over the power lines
between substations and homes and offices. It also will provide for digital voice,
data and video signals to be carried over and accessed from electrical lines within structures.
“Gaining agreement for BPL system requirements is a major achievement and clears the way for the working group
to create a solid standard,” says Jean-Philippe Faure,
chair of the IEEE P1901 Working Group and vice president-standardization at Ilevo. “The agreement
we’ve gotten on this detailed foundation makes me confident that we will create in 2008 a global draft standard
that will enable companies worldwide to manufacture the components and systems needed to develop the BPL industry.”

About the IEEE P1901 Working Group

The IEEE P1901 is a Corporate Standards working group created by 20 companies in June 2005.
The working group has now a membership of about 50 entities,
including: Advanced Communications Networks SA (ACN), Ambient Corporation, Arkados Inc., Boeing, Broadcom Corporation,
Center Point Energy, Consumer Electronics Powerline Communication Alliance (CEPCA), Conexant Systems Inc.,
Corinex Communications Corporation, Current Technologies, DS2, Duke Power, Earthlink, France Telecom,
Gigle Semiconductor, Hisilicon, HomePlug Powerline Alliance, IBM, ILEVO--Schneider Electric Powerline Communications,
Infineon, International Broadband Electric Communications, Inc. (IBEC), Intel, Intellon Corporation, Itochu Corporation,
Kawasaki Microelectronics, LEA, MainNet, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation,
Motorola, Nishiyama Corporation, Open PLC European Research Alliance (OPERA), Panasonic Corporation, Pioneer Corporation,
Powerline Utility Alliance (PUA), RadioShack, San Diego Gas and Electric, Sharp Labs of America, Siemens, SiConnect,
Sony Corporation, Spidcom Technologies, Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd, Telcordia, Texas Instruments, Telixx,
Tokyo Electric Power Company, Toyo Network Systems Co. Ltd, Universal Powerline Association (UPA) and Yamaha.

Now theres a very powerful collection of interested parties.

I think the ACMA will already know why some people want BPL over xDSL systems.
If we can bypass the monopoly owned copper POTS then ALL Australians will benefit from the extra competition.

For PBL to work all the companies who control the various bits of the grid all over Australia
will have to co-operate to achieve an outcome and as such the resulting business model is an oligopoly not a monopoly.

Sine BPL will add/enable another communication infrastructure to the existing one
(and in many cases it means only Telstra's copper) it clearly increases the choice customers have -
must be a good thing and no amount of FUD from Telstra's activists will change that.

We expect this new technology will eventually offer significant benefits to communities,
particularly those in rural or remote areas,
where the provision of broadband via cable or telephone line is either very slow or sometimes not available at all.

Time and technology move on and while I don't necessarily agree that all change is good it is never the less inevitable.

Communications systems over the millennia have changed dramatically imagine where we'd be to day if in there day
those who communicated with drums or smoke signals stopped progress that rendered their communications system ineffective.

While I sincerely sympathize with those enthusiasts who are adversely affected by RF interference the time
has come to move on as a vastly more effective communications structure is almost now in place.

When I was younger CB radios were all the rage and I can well remember the issues for the general community over RF
interference then, I can still remember well my neighbors abuse when my CB radio use trashed their TV reception,
and my father in-law still gets it today when he plays with his CB.

Interestingly things have not changed much and the community arguments that were used to restrict the use of
CB radios in the 70's are the exact same arguments being used by CB radio type enthusiasts to restrict the use of BPL today.

To the best of my knowledge as the RF interference from BPL has no impact on the broader community
(IE does not affect TV reception etc),
as such in reality we are only talking about an impact on a small number of people
who themselves have little regard for those who are affected when they use their preferred communications technology.

The public emergency services have lodged quite a bit of material with the ACMA regarding
interference with their systems from BPL.

As I'm quite sure a superior alternative exists and its cost would be a pittance compared to the revenues BPL
would generate you never know the power co's may be quite willing to fund the change.

Maybe an alternative for Services
Florida’s SLERS system is a Level-4 interoperability solution – an 800 MHz trunked
system which can allow multiple users to share a small number of channels. According
to the SLERS website, “The goal of the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System
(SLERS) project is to provide State law enforcement officers with a shared 800MHz
radio system. This digital system serves over 6,500 users with 14,000 radios in patrol
cars, boats, motorcycles, and aircraft wherever they are in the state.”51
Through SLERS, 98% of the state, and up to 25 miles offshore, is covered by the system.
In 2004, Hurricanes Bonnie and Charley destroyed communications capabilities
throughout much of the affected area, but the SLERS system proved resilient, keeping
communications open among 14 state agencies and the State Emergency Operations Center.

It’s interesting you should mention Darwin with Cyclone Tracey which was 30 odd years ago and the Boxing Day Tsunami.
I'm old enough to remember both well and won't dispute the vital role the Morse code operators played
in communicating to the rest of Australia the desperate position the people of Darwin were in.
If I remember correctly it was more than 24 hrs before we saw the first pictures of the devastation
and from memory they were only BW photos at that, and if I remember rightly again, still it was at least
another 24 hrs before the rest of the world caught up with what had happened.
In stark contrast, virtually within minutes of the Boxing Day Tsunami the whole world knew what
had happened and within an hour we were watching color videos of the waves rolling in and the devastation that followed.
The point is we have vastly superior communications structures today compared to even 30 years ago and
restricting or limiting the development of new communications technology because it could restrict the use of an old
and replaced many times over communications technology is not a good thing.
Using the same argument put by some here where would we be today if the people who made telex machines
found some obscure reason to block the use of the fax machine.
I do have another analogy but that’s off topic because that relates to the night
soil man who still had a job in Australia up until the late 60's.

more interesting comments this time from Optus dated 1st of July 2005
A major Optus concern is that from a spectrum interference management perspective,
any regulatory changes do not adversely impact the utility and value of optus existing and planned telecommunications assets.
To illustrate Optus has invested over A$2 billion in HFC telecommunications network infrastructure in Sydney,
Melbourne & Brisbane and is currently planning to invest over A$100 million for a major national DSL network rollout
in Australia as alternate Access Networks to Telstra's dominant PSTN.
These investments must be protected by appropriate regulatory safeguards.
End Quote

Good points and that would be the same for any company that has invested in infrastructure.
But they go on to say that they think The powers that be in Australia should take more of an FCC stance.
I thought the FCC stance was more relaxed on regulation but I could be wrong.. they also go on to say

At this point of time, Optus is still exploring the possibility of deploying BPL technology in association with the
Electricity Utilities as another alternate Access Network to Telstra's dominant PSTN.
However, Optus would like regulatory certainty and safeguards before it can make any firm BPL investment decisions.
End Quote

So it seems that Optus were looking into it ( at lest they were in mid 2005)
I wonder if they have made any investments since then!!?
I mean investments in R&D or backing Electricity Utilities R&D into viability,
not so much investments in trials where they would need to keep the ACMA informed. As that would be posted on the ACMA's website.
In saying that I would imagine all ISP's are investing an interest into its development as it is a
technology that could (if it takes off) change a few things.




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