Broadband over Power Lines (BPL)


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Broadband over Power Lines is the technology of transmitting computer data through powerlines. This method of connectivity allows the user to have access to the internet without having to rely on additional cables, such as phone lines, while only having to use a special BPL modem to simply plug directly into an AC outlet. The traffic speed offered through this method of connectivity rivals that of DSL and Cable, and may be capable of surpassing both methods of Internet connectivity. Data traffic and applications can be transported at speeds ranging from 4Mbps to 145Mbps. In order to provide broadband connectivity, BPL uses RF (radio waves) to carry the data over the power lines. Although potential interference remains a pertinent issue, the overall benefits afforded by adopting BPL deserves a balanced evaluation and cooperation between industry and government bodies, namely the FCC. In-building BPL can be used to interconnect PCs or other devices within a building, using that building's electrical wiring. Access BPL extends that connection to the Internet, using electrical distribution wiring.

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(By 2012, 33 percent of new broadband customers will access their services using BPL, and 13 percent of current broadband users will switch over to BPL, according to Research and Markets.)


Applications:

- Excellent for high bandwidth media, running a web server, or gaming
- Numerous business applications; for instance, benefiting the actual utility companies in terms of integrating smart networks in order to
determine locations of power outages, and perform automated meter reading

Advantages:

- Internet access is as easy as plugging into an AC outlet
- High-speed Internet access granted to those in rural and/or unserved locations
- May spur lower competitive pricing in the broadband service market, benefiting consumers and busineses alike

Disadvantages:

- May be expensive
- Can have transmission blocks and interference
- Tied to outlets
- Limited to areas with medium- and low-voltage transmissions; electrons on high-voltage lines are too scrambled, and much of the energy is lost as heat


Links:

ARRL Web - http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/
Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_line_communication
Wired News - http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,57605,00.html
BPL Today - http://www.bpltoday.com/
Views on the viability of BPL:
Antennex - http://www.antennex.com/shack/Aug03/plc.htm
PC World - http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,114135-page,1/article.html
Cnet news - http://news.com.com/FCC+pushes+for+broadband+over+power+lines/2100-1028_3-6101925.html