ARRL

BPL and Smart Grid Archives

By year:

  • 2004 / earlier

    Broadband over PowerLine World interviews Earthlink about BPL
    December 29, 2004, Broadband over PowerLine World -- Broadband over PowerLine World interviewed Dave Baker is V.P. for Law and Public Policy. He explained that the comments Earthlink made to the FCC were intended to be taken only in that context, and that Earthlink was "bullish" on BPL. "Asked further about allegations from amateur radio operators that the FCC was not following up on their complaints about RF interference from BPL, Mr. Baker said 'BPL is a broadband technology that can potentially serve millions of customers and that ought not be held hostage by···amateur radio operators or any other special interest.' " This may become the definitive example of the BPL industry's strategy and attitude toward interference, and its apparent inability to effectively address it. In one statement, Baker noted that the new FCC rules addressed the interference, and in the next, he accused those who are seeking redress for interference of being a "special interest" that is "holding hostage" the BPL industry's desire to serve millions.

     

    Who's minding the broadband over power line (BPL) store in Cottonwood, Arizona?
    December 24, 2004, Broadband over Power Line World --"Getting comments from those institutions responsible, according to the Arizona Republic article, for running the BPL trial, however, has not been as easy as it was to get the views of those worried about RF interference from that trial. . . On the next day, Tuesday, December 21, 2004, a spokesperson for APS, External Communications Manager Alan Bunnell, left a voice mail for Broadband over Power Line World in which he said that APS was "not invested" in BPL technology, that APS is merely "watching the industry," that APS is "not into the business" of supplying BPL, but that it is willing to let others "use the lines" to offer that service. . . However, on Wednesday, December 22, 2004, Lance Rosen, president of Plexeon Logistics, Inc., one of the principals in Electric Broadband, LLC, told Broadband over Power Line World that while Electric Broadband, LLC, was involved in setting up the Cottonwood BPL deployment, it is no longer part of the operation there. Broadband Electric, LLC, he said, was "a joint venture" that is now "not involved" in the Cottonwood broadband BPL trial."

     

    BPL a Danger to Amateur Radio?
    12/23/04, TMCNet -- This is a response by ARRL's Media Public Relations Manager, Allen Pitts mailto:w1agp@arrl.org, to an press release published on the TMCNet site about BPL in Texas. Pitts notes that the original article did not address the interference issues associated with BPL, then went on to explain those issues with respect to interference to and from BPL.

     

    PLT and broadcasting -- can they co-exist?
    12/22/2004, EMC Compliance Journal -- This article, written by an engineer who works for the British Broadcasting Corporation, shows conclusively that BPL in its present form will cause serious harmful interference to international shortwave-broadcast signals. Although it outlines solutions that could help reduce the severity of the interference, it realistically notes that these solutions are nowhere near implementation.

     

    Interview with representative from the Verde Valley Amateur Radio Association
    December 21, 2004, BPL World -- BPLW spoke with Robert Shipton, K8EQC, VP, Verde Valley Amateur Radio Association. Mr. Shipton lives in Cottonwood, Arizona, and was able to speak in detail about the situation regarding BPL RF interference there, as well as about the wider implications of this problem.

     

    Con Ed-Ambient's Briarcliff BPL trial runs into interference from amateur radio operators, whose association, the ARRL, asks the FCC (again) to shut it down
    December 18, 2004 - Broadband over Powerline World -- This article discusses the background and present status of the ongoing and unresolved complaint of harmful interference to amateur radio and international shortwave-broadcast spectrum from the small BPL trial operated by ConEd in Briarcliff Manor, NY.

     

    Ambient Responds on Behalf of Industry to Recent ARRL Statement
    12/16/2004, CBS Market Watch -- Ambient Corporation responded to an article written by ARRL about an FCC filing made by Earthlink . In its article, ARRL reported on the statements made by Earthlink about Earthlink's conclusions about BPL vis a vis other technologies.Ambient responded by stating that ARRL had presented Earthlink statements "out of context."Its response also inaccurately attributed to ARRL many of the points originally said by Earthlink. The Ambient rebuttal did not provide the URL to the Earthlink filing, however, but it was included in the original ARRL article.

     

    Con Ed sells broadband operations; Earthlink discusses BPL
    December 16, 2004 -- Etopia Media - "Con Edison, lead test site for Ambient BPL equipment, sells its broadband operations to FiberNet, while EarthLink attorney tells the FCC that 'wireless and BPL technologies are not likely to be competitive in cost and performance with cable and DSL over the last mile to the home."

     

    David Sumner, CEO of ARRL talks about BPL
    December 14, 2004 -- ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, is interviewed by reporter Marc Strassman of Broadband over Power Line World. The long (almost an hour) audio interview thoroughly covers the issue of BPL interference to radio services, especially amateur radio and explains the shortcomings in the FCC's October 2004 BPL Report and Order.

     

    ConEd Pulls The Plug On Broadband
    12/13/2004 Telecom Web - "New York's giant Consolidated Edison power company is exiting the broadband industry, selling off its Con Edison Communications (CEC) subsidiary to FiberNet for $37 million in cash. ConEd is one of the last major, and believed to be the biggest, power utility still left in the telecom game selling managed services to large corporate users. The theory behind the sale is that a network services specialist such as FiberNet will be a more nimble and competitive player in the market."

     

    Marvin Bloomquist, speaking for ham radio operators in Burnet, Texas, finds some fault with the deployment and the deployers of broadband over power line in his community. December 10, 2004 -- Etopia Media
    "Mr. Bloomquist appeared as a guest on Broadband over Power Line World to discuss concerns raised by the amateur radio community in Burnet about the BPL installation in their town. During that conversation, Mr. Bloomquist reported on an informal test conducted in a Burnet parking lot near the power lines carrying the BPL signal which found that the BPL transmission "pretty much completely covers up the 2 megahertz to 22 megahertz" part of the radio spectrum, the part reserved for ham radio operators. Mr. Bloomquist said that cooperation between the ham radio operator community and Broadband Horizons was not as close as Mr. Bates had indicated it was in his interview. He also said that contrary to the impression that Mr. Bates encouraged in his interview, Broadband Horizons was not going to be providing a lot of BPL access to farmers and ranchers, due to the expense of delivering this service to widely-dispersed users."

     

    Broadband over Power Lines in the Real World: Early Commercialization in Manassas, Virginia
    12/1/2004, Research and Markets -- "BPL received a green light in an October 2004 technical ruling from the Federal Communications Commission. Nevertheless, substantial challenges may impede BPL from achieving its full potential. Amateur radio operators are fighting BPL deployments over the issue of interference. System economics are still uncertain, especially in rural areas..."

     

    BPL: The New Kid on the Block
    12/1/2004, Communications Technology -- This column appeared in the December 2004 issue of Communications Technology, the Journal for the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers. It discusses the interference potential of BPL to the cable-television industry.

     

    Dayton, Ohio goes Wi-Fi
    November 26, 2004, Muniwireless.com -- This article describes the WiFi wireless network being planned for Dayton, OH. Even more eye-opening, though, is the list of 60 articles about cities worldwide that are taking this approach to bringing broadband to their areas. With careful selection of 802.11 channels locally, harmful interference to licensed spectrum can be avoided altogether with this approach to broadband.

     

    Easy Broadband -- And Smarter Power
    NOVEMBER 22, 2004 -- "That, however, will require significant upgrades of utility substations and power lines. And nobody knows exactly how big an investment will be necessary. First, power companies have to mount boxes on certain utility poles to deliver data signals. Early estimates of installation costs range from $50 to $150 per home passed, plus $30 to $200 more for modems in each home, according to a study by EPRI and its consulting arm, Primen. Internet service provider EarthLink Inc. (ELNK), which is testing BPL schemes with Con Edison, says that to make money from selling broadband access at $20 to $30 a month, a utility may have to get installation costs down to $20 per home passed and less than $100 per modem."

     

    SBC Picks Microsoft for IP-based TV
    November 17, 2004 -- Although this article is about SBC's plant for fiber-to-the-home, it discusses the BPL rulemaking as one of the driving factors behind SBC's interest in building out fiber.

     

    Be Quiet. We're Listening
    November 15, 2004 Wall Street Journal -- This subscriber-only Wall Street Journal article describes the concerns of the radio astronomy observers in Green Bank, WV. "In a setback for the scientists, the FCC last month endorsed the use of broadband through power lines, or BPL, technology. Radio astronomers and others oppose the technology ... because it generates electromagnetic interference. In essence,it turns power lines into radio antennas. The FCC decided the interference concerns could be addressed by BPL providers, and set some technical requirements for BPL gear."

     

    Radio Days
    November 10, 2004 -- By Jack Ganssle, Embedded.com -- This article takes an engineering outlook on the poor design choices that put high-speed digital signals on overhead power lines. "It seems to me that BPL violates the basic tenet of good RF engineering: constrain unwanted radiation using twisted pair or coax. . . We all want the benefits of wireless electronics. Carelessly designed spectrum-polluting embedded systems will make that dream much harder to achieve."

     

    Broadband Over Power Lines: Plugging in the Third Wire to the Home
    November 8, 2004, Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr -- This article offers a brief overview of the recent FCC rules changes and some predictions about additional regulations that may be to come.

     

    Broadband over power lines gets poor reception
    November 04, 2004 -- by Graeme Wearden, ZDNet UK
    Research published this week has shown that broadband over power line services may not be attractive to many potential customers. Energy information firm Platts suggests that commercial take-up could be limited. One issue holding people back is a lack of trust in their electricity providers. Platts found that many customers had mixed feelings about the kind of reliability, customer service and technical support they could expect from a utility selling a BPL service.

     

    Cisco CTO Whips WiMax
    November 3, 2004 -- This article focuses on wireless, but the CTO of CISCO had some observations about BPL: "Later in his remarks, Giancarlo gave broadband-over-power-lines (BPL) a whack as well (see Powerline Ethernet Gets the Nod). 'As far as these HomePlug and PowerLine products, Cisco has had them available for two years. And we've still got plenty of inventory.' He says power companies have a great deal of work to do before the power grid could be a viable means of residential broadband deployment. 'We have to find a way to deal with getting it through the transformers and other power conditioning equipment... This has been a non-market. Consumers are not responding to it.'"

     

    Amateur Radio Operators Weigh Legal Challenge to FCC's BPL Order
    November 3, 2004 -- This interview of ARRL's CEO, Dave Sumner, K1ZZ, appeared in the Communications Daily, a publication of Warren Communications News. It is posted with permission. Sumner outlines ARRL's reaction to the BPL Report and Order and describes the next steps ARRL expects to take. Warren Communications News can be contacted via the information on their web page.

     

    Country Energy -- Aurura Queanbeyan BPL Trial, by Phil Wait VK2DKN
    Observations of the Queanbeyan BPL Trial, Wireless Institute of Australia
    November 1, 2004 -- Two representatives of the Wireless Institute of Australia were invited to a demonstration of BPL at Queanbeyan New South Wales by Country Energy. An overview of the current regulatory environment was discussed before attendees were taken by bus to the demonstration area. The level of interference on amateur bands was very considerable and in the neighborhood of the system would make amateur radio unusable.

     

    Uncertainty of technology makes decision tougher
    Written By Garrett Ordower and reprinted on the ARRL Web page with the permission of the Daily Herald 10/30/2004 - This article discusses the risks of BPL compared to other technologies. "While technology can be hard to pin down, given the flexibility and availability of fiber, and the confidence even the Baby Bells have in it long-term, Collins doesn't see it going the way of the PS/2 anytime soon. 'The fiber-to-the-home builds are where the industry is headed, even for the Bells,' Collins said."

     

    Sachs: BPL Not a Proven Competitor
    October 26, 2004 -- At a recent meeting of utility regulators, president Robert Sachs, the National Cable Telecommunications Association President noted, "High-speed Internet access offered by electric utilities has yet to demonstrate that it can attract consumers and represent robust competition to cable and phone companies."

     

    Sandersville, Georgia, Launches the Largest Fixed Wireless WiMAX System in State; Tri-State Broadband Installs New Wireless Internet Service
    October 25, 2004 -- A WiMax system in Sandersville, GA is serving 300 square miles. Wireless broadband does not pose the same high risk for interference seen from BPL.

     

    FCC's broadband blessing not sparking utilities to act -- yet
    October 24, 2004 -- By Rick Stouffer TRIBUNE-REVIEW -- "There almost is a disincentive for utilities to get involved in broadband," said Davis, director of Broadband Access Technologies at the Boston-based consulting firm. "The investment community is scrutinizing closely anything the utility industry is doing, and any large telecom project would be frowned upon. Plus, from a pure market entry perspective, you have very strong incumbent broadband providers in place that also offer bundled services."

     

    Utilities take pass on offering broadband
    Boston Globe, October 24, 2004 -- This article explains why most electric utilities are not flocking to BPL in droves. The author writes: "Of the nearly 160 investor-owned utilities in the United States, dozens have tried out ''broadband over power line" systems. Only one -- Cinergy Corp. in Cincinnati -- has moved ahead with a significant commercial rollout, so far attracting barely 1,500 subscribers. Dozens of utilities that ran trials of the service in the last three years took a pass on making a business venture of it." From the utility side, "New York's Consolidated Edison Corp. has been testing Ambient powerline broadband systems for years. But asked whether it plans to go to a commercial rollout, ConEd spokesman Chris Olert said: ''No way. We're not in the broadband business. Our primary interest is in utility applications" such as using communications channels over electric lines to read meters and monitor blackouts."

     

    Hams display interference from BPL
    October 22, 2004 -- The BPL system in the City of Manassas, VA has often been cited as being interference free. To the contrary, amateurs there have filed interference reports with the City and the FCC from the very beginning of the trial. This article in the Potomac News documents interference to and from the BPL system in Manassas.

     

    217 Fiber Communities
    89 started since May of '04
    October 21, 2004 -- According to the fiber to the home forum, there are now 217 communities in 37 different states with fiber to the home projects underway. "Not content to wait for upgrades from the local telephone or cable companies, they are laying their own fiber and building their own communications infrastructure. These 'smart' communities enable their residents and businesses to become much more productive and innovative, thereby improving the quality of their citizens' lives," says Mike DiMauro, council president.

     

    Broadband over Power Lines might not be such a problem after all
    October 21, 2004 -- An article on the Radio Netherlands web page outlines that the interference threat from BPL may not be as bad as it looks. It outlines the reasons that BPL may not become widely deployed.

     

    FCC rule gives Web new outlet
    October 19, 2004 -- After announcing the new rules changes, this article discusses that the technology is economically feasible only in areas with high population density. Alan Shark, identified as the President of the Power Line Communications Association, a major BPL industry group, summed it up: "' The cost is 'very reasonable' when the power line is no longer than a mile," Shark said.' A spokesman for the Boone Electric Corporation summarized his opinion of the use of BPL: "'"It looks" like it could work "very well in areas with very dense population, but once you start going out any distance, especially in the country, you have to have boosters and electrical hardware every quarter-mile,' Rohlfing said. 'It's just not cost-effective yet.'" AmerenUE, a major midwestern electric utility, discusses why it is not going to proceed with deployment of BPL at this time: "'It works very well,' said Erica Abbett, a company spokeswoman. But because the technology is expensive, AmerenUE has no intention to roll it out commercially at this time."

     

    FCC Tries To Jolt Life into Power Line Broadband
    October 15, 2004 -- Meta Group senior analyst David Willis said although the FCC initiative to breed more competition into the U.S. broadband market may have its merits, the power line broadband effort is unlikely to do so. "It's hard to make a business case," Willis told TechNewsWorld. Another analyst noted: "Wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) -- which are successfully serving smaller, rural markets around the country -- are using a variety of technologies to serve the pockets without high-speed Internet."

     

    Power Line Broadband: FCC prepares to move technology forward
    October 13, 2004 -- This Broadband Reports article discusses interference and other drawbacks to BPL. "Not only are there interference concerns, but some have found geographical limitations make BPL more of a niche technology than the sweeping cure-all envisioned by the FCC. Alliant Energy's BPL Project Leader Dan Hinz - someone who should know - says he considers BPL to be a 'strategic deployment technology,' not one that could successfully be deployed anywhere in America with the hopes of competing against DSL or Cable."

     

    Broadband Over Powerline: Status and Prospects 2004
    October, 2004 -- The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and its subsidiary Primen released Broadband Over Powerline: Status and Prospects 2004, a white paper summarizing the state of emerging technology that allows for high-speed data communications over existing electric power lines. Broadband over powerline (BPL) has been heralded as a potential "third wire," competing with DSL and cable as a means of providing Internet access to U.S. homes and businesses. "This white paper is a guide to where BPL stands right now, including information on vendors, projects, and commercial deployments," says Karen George, a principal at Primen, a Boulder, Colorado, U.S.-based energy market intelligence company affiliated with EPRI. George co-wrote the study with EPRI's Clark Gellings, vice president for Innovation.

     

    IN MY VIEW: BPL's Pandora's Box
    September/October, 2004 -- IEEE Power Engineering Society
    This editorial published in the IEEE Power Equipment Society (PES) looks to be very useful information for your local electric utility company. Electric utility companies generally have confidence in anything published by the PES. The article discusses the mechanisms by which BPL systems radiate; the applicable FCC rules and a clear and honest description of the impact of BPL on shortwave and low VHF spectrum.

     

    Proposed rules pit 'hams' vs. broadband Net users
    9/28/2004 --- USA Today -- "The "hams" say widespread rollout of power-line broadband could be a virtual death knell for their beloved hobby because the service often emits radio waves on the same channels they use. The problem is that electric wires are not shielded and data, which travel in energy waves, can easily disrupt other services. . . Hams have flooded the FCC with complaints about some of the trials."

     

    Ham radio users make case against broadband system
    September 28, 2004 -- By CATHY MENTZER, Staff writer, Public Opinion, Chambersburg, PA -- "If the borough were to use its electric power lines to provide high-speed Internet service, it could render the high-frequency radio signals used by amateur radio enthusiasts and emergency services providers virtually useless, a group of local ham radio operators said Monday. David Yoder, president of the Cumberland Valley Amateur Radio Club, urged Borough Council to postpone any consideration of deploying a broadband-over-powerline system, known as BPL. He said BPL is a largely untested technology and advised council to wait for advances before plunging into a BPL system, which would allow high-speed Internet service to be distributed over power lines and permit subscribers to access the Internet from any electrical outlet with the use of a modem."

     

    IEEE Spectrum Amped Up and Ready to Go
    September 22, 2004 -- "Regulatory issues are far from fully resolved, even now. The main issue keeping officials up at night is signal interference. U.S. ham radio operators have complained about the effect of power line transmissions on their communications signals, while some regulators have voiced concerns over privacy following reported cases of eavesdropping. . . In Germany, "we have had acute cases of radio interference being reported--in the range of 30 to 40 decibels," said Thilo Kootz, an engineer with the German ham radio club DARC e.V. in Baunatal. "And consider this: the European Commission, which has helped fund the development of the shortwave Digital Radio Mondiale [DRM] technology, now seems willing to destroy this new FM-quality system with its support of power line communications."

     

    Fears for new digital radio system
    13 September, 2004 -- Plans to offer the internet using mains electricity cables could cause so much interference that new digital radio stations could be obliterated, a broadcasting conference has been told.

     

    Ham radio users oppose broadband lines
    August 24, 2004 -- Public Opinion, Chambersburg, PA -- About 20 members of the Cumberland Valley Amateur Radio Club told council they are concerned about the potential for a broadband-over-powerline system to block important emergency communications.

     

    A man, a LAN, a plan
    August 19, 2004, Electronic Design News -- This article discusses home networking in general, but outlines difficulties encountered with several in-home BPL modems. "Before diving into specifics, I'll share a general observation: Power-line networking is frighteningly finicky. I've pulled my hair out (figuratively) when an Ethernet-to-power-line adapter that worked fine one day failed to work the next morning. I've struggled with adapters that work in only one plug of a two-plug outlet. I've seen adapters that don't work with the power plug oriented in one direction but behave nicely with the plug polarity flipped 180°. I've had adapters refuse to work when plugged directly into an outlet but function happily when connected to the same outlet through a several-foot extension cord and vice versa. (Explain that one!)"

     

    Danger: Power Lines Overhead?
    August 12, 2004 -- By Ben McClure -- "The utility companies are latecomers to the broadband arena, where they face a tough battle against DSL and cable providers that offer cheaper, bundled services to customers. Traditionally, new technologies need to enter the marketplace with a price advantage or superior service, or both. Right now, BPL doesn't appear to have either. Besides, after getting hammered by Wall Street for disastrous investments in unregulated businesses, utilities are adopting a back-to-basics strategy that, for most, probably doesn't include full-scale ventures into the broadband service arena."

     

    Beware the BPL Buzz
    August 2, 2004 -- eweek.com
    Official pronouncements of BPL benenefits either minimize, or completely ignore, the realities of physics and hardware that make resulting radio-frequency interference a high probability -- and an unreasonable risk, not just to hams, but to many other users of an irreplaceable spectrum resource.

     

    PY moves toward high-speed Web
    July 28, 2004, Finger Lakes Times -- This article outlines how the village of Penn Yan, NY abandoned its BPL trial and quickly and easily switched over to a wireless mesh network. Data Ventures, the involved ISP, felt that BPL was not "commercially deployable" in Penn Yan.

     

    'Broadband over power line' trial yanked in C.R.
    July 02, 2004, By Dave DeWitte The Gazette
    "CEDAR RAPIDS -- A word to the techno-wise: If you plan to test a technology causing a stir nationwide because of HAM radio interference, don't expect to go unnoticed in a city teeming with radio engineers. Alliant Energy began a pilot project on March 30 to test technology that can provide broadband Internet access over power lines. It shut down the project June 25 in Cedar Rapids, months earlier than planned. The decision came after repeated complaints of radio interference from HAM radio operators."

     

    Interference Characteristics of Broadband Power Line Communication Systems Using Aerial Medium Voltage Wires
    April 1, 2004, IEEE Communications magazine (IEEE Communications Society members only) -- The promise of broadband power line (BPL) communications - broadband access to virtually every home in the United States - will remain unfulfilled if the radio emissions from these systems cause significant harmful interference to other users of the wireless spectrum. This article presents an elementary analysis of the physical mechanisms underlying these emissions, from which the interference characteristics of BPL systems can be derived. Numerical models are evaluated for idealized systems using overhead medium-voltage wires, a configuration that is of particular interest for U.S. deployments. The central conclusions of the analysis are: BPL interference is governed primarily by two parameters: signal power and electrical balance of system excitation. Interfering emissions are typically confined to the immediate vicinity of the BPL wire, but long-range effects cannot be neglected. Measurements on an installed BPL system suggest that it is operating within, but very close to, the limits set by rules recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.

     

    SARL RESPONDS TO TSHWANE PLC TRIAL
    3.28/2004 - SARL News Bulletin Archive -- This week the SARL has voiced its concern about the introduction of Power Line Communications in the programme Technologic which aired on the DSTV Business Channel 55, Summit TV. The programme was broadcast on Monday and repeated on Wednesday and Friday evening. SARL President, Graham Harlett was interviewed at the National Amateur Radio Centre and said that the SARL is opposed to Power Line Communication because of its inherent interference to High Frequency Radio communication. The interference is not limited only to frequencies used by Radio Amateurs but also the military, Civil Emergency Agencies and broadcasting stations.

     

    FCC Set to End Our Right to Listen to Foreign Broadcasts . . . and More
    May 26, 2004 -- Even if BPL "notches" the Amateur bands, the reception of international shortwave broadcast in residential neighborhoods will be seriously impaired.

     

    Power line telecoms: Data over the mains
    March 18, 2004 -- Although written from a British perspective, the article asks the most important question related to BPL interference issues: "These recordings should be required listening for the accountants in any power company that is planning to launch a commercial PLT service. They can then ask two simple questions. Does our system cause similar levels of interference? And, if it does, are we willing to gamble shareholders' money on building a telecoms system which the government may shut down because it interferes with radio reception and emergency service communication?"

     

    Power Line Networking Technologies broadband potential
    March 16, 2004 --  Power line communications (PLC) or Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) allows transmission of data over power lines. Power line communications uses the RF signal sent over medium and low voltage AC power lines to allow end users to connect to the Internet. The RF signal is modulated with digital information that is converted by an interface in the home or small business into Ethernet compatible data.



    Broadband over power lines could cause static
    March 9, 2004 Cincinatti Post By Peter Nord -- This article explains in simple terms what will happen for interference both to and from license hf users when these systems get going. "Radio interference works both ways. A radio transmitter can cause the little wall plug to stop working. There is, by definition, no interference protection available for unlicensed devices. The wall plugs are unlicensed devices which must be removed from service if they cause interference."

     

    Why broadband over power lines is a bad idea
    Friday, Feb. 27, 2004 -- "HERE'S THE DEAL: BPL is a technology that uses radio waves, transmitted over power lines, to provide broadband Internet or other data connectivity. The problem with BPL is simple physics: Radio waves like to fly off into space. When they do, interference results. In order to get broadband speeds, BPL uses a large number of frequencies, some of which are capable of traveling literally around the world even on the small transmitter power that BPL systems use."

     

    Government Entry Into the Telecommunications Business: Are the Benefits Commensurate With the Costs?
    February 3, 2004, The Progress Freedom Foundation, by Thomas M Lenard -- This paper outlines the pitfalls of government entities such as municipal-owned electric utilities entering the telecommunications market. It focuses more on fiber than BPL.

     

    Interferences instead of shortwave broadcast
    February 1, 2004, DARC web site -- Listening to shortwave broadcast in parts of the city of Mannheim, Germany is almost impossible. This article documents that interference and the actions of German shortwave listeners and amateur operators to get this interference corrected.

     

    Interference questions dog broadband over power lines: Groups claim emerging technology disrupts radio signals
    January 07, 2004, IDG News Service -- The BPL industry started the year of 2004 by denying that there were any interference problems with BPL. The FCC BPL rulemaking focused on interference, with a long list of frequencies and areas that BPL is simply not permitted to use. To this day, the industry has not resolved the interference problem, and as more BPL systems deploy, the electric utilities that invest in them must also invest in dealing with the interference complaints. "Ham radio operators and at least one U.S. federal agency contend that broadband over power lines interferes with their radio signals, and if the radio operators have their way, the emerging technology that could offer Internet users another broadband service choice might not get off the ground in the U.S. . . 'Our experience in the field contradicts what (the ARRL is) alleging,' Kilbourne said. "We're entirely satisfied that there won't be any interference.'"

     

    FEMA says power line broadband threatens its radio system
    12/17/03 -- Government Computer News. In a letter to the FCC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency expressed "grave concerns" that BPL interference would impair its mission-essential HF radio operation. Although they later clarified that FEMA has not determined with certainty that interference would occur, the FCC's final rules made much of the spectrum that FEMA might use off limits to BPL.

     

    Broadband Over Power Lines? PLC -- "There's trouble a comin' down the lines..."
    August, 2003 -- Hams and other users of the HF bands in the USA have reason for worry. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency that regulates the civilian use of the RF spectrum in the US, is all aglow about allowing the power companies to connect customers to the Internet over their power lines.

     

    Promises and False Promises of PowerLine Carrier (PLC) Broadband Communications
    August 31, 2003 -- A Techno-Economic Analysis by Rahul Tongia, Ph.D., Asst. Research Professor, School of Computer Science (ISRI)/Dept. of Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University. The paper examines some of the pros and cons of this technology, as well as nontechnical issues relating to its deployment including regulation, competition, and the business case. PLC has very high potential in terms of its market reach, given the ubiquity of electricity service in the US. However, the nature of the technology and the US power grid design make its economics less compelling than recent public statements by its proponents. The paper also presents some comparisons to DSL and cable technologies, in terms of differentiating factors, evolution, and economics. In the current environment, cable appears to have an advantage in terms of capabilities, given its higher total bandwidth (albeit shared), which allows it to offer the "triple play" of services: voice, video, and broadband internet. Ultimately, whether PLC becomes a niche or mainstream technology for broadband Internet access will depend on successful execution of the business plans envisaged by PLC-based companies.

     

    Power Line Networking Technologies broadband potential
    August, 2003, Shane Kirwan and Greg South -- This term paper in computer networking presents an overview of early BPL technologies and offers some predictions for their future prospects.

     

    Interview with municipal broadband expert
    June 18, 2003, Muniwireless.com -- "There is an excellent interview conducted by Broadband Reports with Jim Baller, one of the US leading experts on municipal broadband projects. Mr. Baller is the founder of Baller Herbst Law Group based in Washington D.C. and Minneapolis MN and as been involved in municipal projects for many years. Mr. Baller draws similarities between the electric power industry and communications, and discusses fiber to the home (FTTH), municipal projects to deliver cheaper broadband and voice over IP." There is also a long list of links to other wireless sites and pages.

     

    Powerline Networking Test Drive
    April 1, 2002 -- Various HomePlug networking systems were tested. The results showed that factors like heavy electrical loads, old wiring, multiple circuits, distance from the power mains and other factors can degrade performance.

     

    Megabits per Second on 50 Hz Power Lines? 
    The reason for the removal of the RegTP field trial license, based on numerous protests, is that Digital Power Line Communications (PLC) is trying to increase the speed of data rates into the Megabits per seconds range. Therefore the short wave band of up to 30 MHz will be transmitted over the low voltage distribution network. The recent history of PLC in Germany together with the standardization and measurement procedures used are given. Public opinion in Germany and technological alternatives to PLC like ADSL and wireless communications with low power are discussed and explained. The present approach of the remaining PLC consortia and their attempt to introduce the PLC technology nation wide is questionable. Author: Diethard Hansen, EURO EMC SERVICE (EES)

  • 2005

    Tshwane gets Internet hubba hubba
    12/2/2005, The Mail&Guardian online (South Africa) -- "The City of Tshwane is testing the delivery of broadband Internet and voice services on its new fibre-optic tele-communications network that blankets the entire metro. Dave Gale, head of telecoms service provider Storm, confirmed that it was the chosen partner for the pilots and that all voice-over Internet protocol calls and ADSL connections were via its diginet line in Woodmead, Johannesburg. 'Kuun's [NB: Charles Kuun, head of the Tshwane Digital Hub] dream is to drive telecoms costs down in Tshwane by 90%. Whether we are going to make it, I don't know,' said Gale. 'I have a feeling it will be more like 50%.' Gale said results from tests on power-line communication have been 'awesome' and that Storm is running tests that allow residents to simply plug a modem into a power socket and connect."

     

    BPL: Not Even a Niche: Limited rural solution, not great broadband hope
    11/23/2005, DSL Reports -- "'I wouldn't even call [broadband over power lines] a niche,' says a Redback Networks marketing exec to Networking Pipeline. 'For most, it would be the second or third choice behind cable and DSL.' Seems like recent BPL articles (also see TechNewsWorld) have shaken off the un-bridled optimism, and are now pigeon-holing the technology as a limited rural broadband solution. If utilities can make the numbers work and control interference (What we've been saying for several years). That's a far cry from ex-FCC chief Powell's tag of "great broadband hope."

     

    Broadband Over Power Lines: Ready For A Big Breakthrough?
    11/21/2005, INTERNETWEEK MARKETPLACE --"Broadband over power lines faces technology and business challenges, though. As the technology exists today, broadband over power lines offers a maximum capacity of about 4 MB, according to Ted Demopoulos, an IT business consultant based in Durham, NH...Even that maximum speed is theoretical and could drop quickly if many people are accessing the broadband service at the same time, Song adds. While cable and DSL have had the same sharing issues, those technologies and infrastructures have been upgraded, so adding more users to the system isn't as noticeable to legacy users. Broadband over power lines uses radio signals, so it also interferes with some emergency communications and can have noise issues of its own, according to Demopoulos. 'The power lines were never devised to carry this type of signal.' The competing technologies don't have these noise issues."

     

    Riding the sine wave: Broadband data hitches a ride with an unlikely carrier
    11/10/2005, Electronic Design News -- This article may be the definitive BPL article that best describes the systems and their present status. "Proponents of BPL (broadband-over-power-line) technology insist that the best wires for the last mile were strung and connected long ago. But BPL still faces technical hurdles, a potentially nasty standards fight, and angry amateur-radio operators. . . With BPL rolling out, however, ham operators around the world are the leading voices of dissent, because some BPL installations interfere with ham operations. There is no question that BPL systems emit energy that acts as interference to radio communications. The overhead power lines are unshielded and cover a lot of geography--especially when a utility runs data along MV lines. Some in the BPL industry have characterized the ham operators as lunatics with nothing better to do than complain. Some of these "lunatics" claim that the BPL industry will interfere with emergency communications, leading to catastrophe. Others argue that the technology ultimately lacks the capacity to serve the stated goals of voice, data, and video. Fortunately, there are some reasonable people on both sides of the issue. The National Association for Amateur Radio represents the ham operators. The group still uses the acronym ARRL (American Radio Relay League) from its legacy group. ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare has been involved with testing BPL systems and has worked with the HPA group and companies such as Motorola to try to make BPL work. Hare states, 'My goal is to help BPL succeed. Not all BPL systems will cause interference.'"

     

    BPL battleground moves to Virginia
    11/1/2005, Mobile Radio Technology magazine -- "The war between amateur radio operators and broadband-over-powerline providers has a new skirmish line: the historic city of Manassas, Va., where local, state and even federal officials have welcomed Communication Technologies as the city's BPL network provider and ARRL -- formerly known as the American Radio Relay League -- has asked the FCC to shut the system down. . . 'They've been working on it for 18 months, and they haven't fixed the problem,' said David Sumner, ARRL's CEO. 'Instead they hold news conferences and media circuses touting the wonders of their system. The system is dirty.' . . . The system is up and running to about 700 subscribers and available to 12,500 other premises in the 10-square-mile city. Meanwhile, problems are being addressed, said Walter Adams, vice president of new technology at COMTek. . . . In a true emergency, however, there would be no power, and without power, BPL wouldn't work, so it couldn't interfere with high-frequency radios, said Adams, who also said that the hams' role in emergency communications is being usurped in many cases by advanced satellite technologies. . . . Although both sides agree there is interference in Manassas, they disagree on how much, whether it's harmful and whether it's being resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. . . .'Manassas is probably one of the most measured and monitored BPL deployments in the U.S.,' Adams said. We have the NTIA out there, the FCC out there, the Department of Defense out there, AT&T, the hams, the FBI, the National Security Administration.'"

     

    Powerline Followup: Is DS2 For You? Part 1 Part 2
    11/1/2005, EDN -- This blog entry outlines the tests done by the author on the installation of DS2 modems in his residence.

     

    Broadband options abound for cities
    11/1/2005, WCF Courier -- This article discusses broadband options being considered in Waterloo, IA, from BPL to fiber to wireless. "Rick Young, with Opportunity Waterloo, said such a decision on the future of broadband access in Waterloo should be left up to the utility commission, should one be established after next Tuesday's vote. 'We are not advocating any system or technology,' Young said. <Alan> Shark, with the Public Technology Institute, said just because another city is providing Internet access one way doesn't mean it will work for Waterloo. 'Every community would have to assess itself. What's good for one city is not necessarily good for another city,' Shark said."

     

    IdaComm tests high-speed access over power lines; analysts wonder if enough people will sign up
    10/25/2005, Idaho Statesman -- This article describes IdaComm's work as a BPL consultant with IdaCorp and other utilities. "It has yet to be seen whether BPL will turn a profit for IdaComm and other companies, said James Bellessa, an analyst with D.A. Davidson Co. in Great Falls, Mont. 'They think this is an area that will serve them well and give them growth,' Bellessa said. "Nowhere in the U.S. has the model been fully proven that it works for a utility.' IdaComm would be wise to continue focusing on consulting work in this area until the BPL technology is standardized and other utilities prove they can make a profit from it, Bellessa said. The biggest challenge facing BPL across the nation is that'it's late' and will have a hard time competing against the already well-established DSL and cable modem connections, said Michael Cai, director of broadband and gaming research at Parks Associates, a Dallas-based market research and consulting firm for digital technologies in the home."

     

    FCC complaint filed on Manassas service: Group says city's new high-speed Internet causes interference
    10/22/2005, Times Dispatch -- " 'Our effort is to try to highlight this and cause the FCC to realize that this is a bigger aggregate problem than they probably thought was going to be,' said Christopher Imlay, general counsel for the association, also known as the American Radio Relay League Inc. . . Imlay says the city and COMTek have been unresponsive to fixing the interference issues and COMTek's claims that it fixed band segments with "notches" are either false or those devices have been removed. COMTek and city officials have been responsive to complaints by addressing past interference issues and meeting with ham operators several times, countered Walter Adams, COMTek's vice president of new technology, and John D. Hewa, Manassas' director of utilities. Most of the problems are isolated incidents or not related to BPL, said Adams, who said the company does not comment on specific action it is taking to correct the interference issues. Manassas, which contributed $400,000 to the $2 million project, provides the staff to install and maintain the technology, while COMTek owns and operates the BPL network."

     

    Surfing Through the Power Grid
    10/20/2005, Wired.com -- This article says some positive things about the deployments in Cincinnati and Manassas, but then draws some strong conclusions about the interference issues: "But that doesn't mean internet traffic doesn't interfere with other signals. BPL faces continuing criticism that transmitting data over unshielded power lines can interfere with both ham radio broadcasts and police and fire radios. That's one of the issues that has slowed BPL adoption, said Joe Laszlo, research director at Jupiter Research who covers broadband. A number of BPL trials around the country 'have been canceled or scaled back because of interference issues,' he said, 'or because the cost of deploying was much higher than the utilities expected.'"

     

    Powerline Weakened by Challenges, Firm Says
    10/19/2005, Electronic News -- "PLCs offer theoretical benefits to some consumers and some providers, but ABI Research has shown that these are still infant technologies facing significant obstacles to success. According to Vamsi Sistla, ABI Research's director of broadband research, in a statement, 'BPL does offer benefits to utilities including more efficient use of the electrical grid and better telemetry for tracking faults and failures.' BPL therefore enjoys support from governments and regulators. Utilities, eyeing the opportunity to offer Internet access to their customers, are also enthusiastic, Sistla noted. However, serious bandwidth and radio interference issues remain, and would-be BPL vendors face stiff competition from incumbent DSL and cable networks. 'The best opportunities for BPL will be in regions with poor telecom infrastructure, where cable is too expensive and modest access speeds will suffice. Eastern Europe, China and India are good examples,' Sistla continued."

     

    BPL standards may be released soon
    10/19/2005, My ADSL -- Although this article discusses the development of BPL industry standards, it has an interesting side subject of BPL deployment in rural areas: "BPL has been touted in South Africa as a possible solution for providing Internet access to remote and rural areas. Whilst further investigation is required some industry players overseas like Alan Shark, executive director of Public Technology Institute, state that BPL may not be the solution to provide connectivity for these areas. According to Shark repeaters are required every few hundred meters along the electrical conduit to ensure that the service is not degraded. He reported to FCM Com that this service may be more suitable for areas where there are clusters of homes. He added that there is newer technology available that reconstitutes the signal but that it may currently be too expensive to represent a feasible option. Industry seems to support this idea as recently one of the major U.S. BPL backers, PPL Corp, pulled out stating that it was not financially viable to continue offering this service."

     

    Broadband interference: Internet over power lines may jam airwaves, but remedies exist
    10/17/2005, FCW.com -- "Alan Shark, executive director of Public Technology, a technology organization that works with several cities and counties, said he is a fan of ham radio operators. But their complaints that BPL technology causes significant interference are misguided, he said. ... <Walter Adams, a Communication Technologies vice president,> said the FCC offers a prescriptive mandate that states that BPL technology should not harmfully interfere with ham radios. 'It's not a question of whether BPL interferes with ham radios. It does,' he said. 'But then again so does your garage door opener, so does your diesel engine or your car. It's a question of how harmful it is in terms of how loud it is and how much interference' it causes." ARRL Note: None of these devices operate for 24 hours a day with interference stretching along over a kilometer of overhead power line from each injection point. [NOTE: ARRL does not have a single case of interference on file that shows a garage-door opener causing harmful interference to the Amateur Radio Service. ed]

     

    Web extra: Broadband over power lines not suited for rural areas
    10/17/2005, Federal Computer Week -- The technology may be too expensive to deploy in remote and rural areas at this time, experts say ... "However, Shark, who has previously served as executive director of the Rural Broadband Coalition and president and chief executive officer of the Power Line Communications Association, said BPL might not be the answer to providing Internet service to rural or remote areas where traditional telecommunications providers have been reluctant to make investments. He said BPL is basically touted as a last half-mile solution. Shark said you need repeaters along the electrical conduit every few hundred feet so the service isn’t degraded, but that might be too expensive a proposition for BPL providers. He said there might be hope for areas where there is a cluster of homes or some density. He also said newer technology that reconstitutes the signal for its entire trip is available, but might also still be too expensive."

     

    End of Internet over power lines?: PPL calls it quits but a telecom company pushes on in Virginia.
    10/16/2005 Morning Call -- "PPL of Allentown was widely considered one of the county's leaders in broadband over power lines. Its unexpected announcement seemed a dark omen for a technology that the head of the Federal Communications Commission once proclaimed to be 'within striking distance of becoming the third major broadband pipe into the home.' But PPL never said the broadband service didn't work. The company came to the conclusion that it wasn't profitable. It couldn't charge a high enough price in the face of stiff competition from cable and telephone companies, and its pool of potential customers -- 1.3 million Pennsylvania electricity customers -- was too small. 'The economies of scale wouldn't work,' PPL spokesman Jim Santanasto said."

     

    Powerline Pessimism
    10/10/2005, EDN magazine blog -- This article outlines the difficulties that EDN's senior technical editor, Brian Dipert, has had implementing HomePlug and DS2 modem in-premises BPL in testing he did in his residence.

     

    BPL Has Coming Out Party - Does Anyone Care?
    10/6/2005, TMC Net -- "Ham radio, however, may not be the biggest obstacle for widespread commercial BPL success. Analysts at energy research and consulting firm Energy Insights concluded in a study entitled "Broadband over Power Line: Impact for Utility Companies" that BPL will continue to generate far more hype than actual subscribers. 'We believe that a lack of utility expertise in running commercially successful consumer telecom businesses and a poor track record for success, combined with utility reluctance to rapidly adopt new technologies, and competition from DSL, cable modems, and other emerging technologies will limit the growth of BPL,' said Rick Nicholson, vide president of research for Energy Insights, in a prepared statement. The major hurdle, and its just a small one, is making BPL commercially viable for utilities."

     

    Nation's First Citywide Broadband-Over-Powerline Site Inaugurated
    10/5/2005 -- The city-wide rollout in Manassas, VA is not without its problems. Amateurs in the area have filed formal interference complaints about the operation of the system and intend to renew those complaints with the FCC. The claim that "interference can be fixed" continues, but that has not yet proven to be the case after over a year's trying.

     

    PPL Corp. Ditches Internet Program
    10/4/2005, Times-Tribune -- "The cost of a full-scale roll-out would be very high, Mr. Santanasto said, though he declined to say how much. Skimming enough customers from cable and telephone companies to make it profitable was unlikely, he said."

     

    PPL ending trial of 'broadband over power lines': Internet access method it helped pioneer proved unprofitable.
    10/4/2005, The Morning Call -- This article notes that PPL's BPL venture to 300 customers was abandoned because it was not profitable. The article notes, "Other power companies have not yet come to the same conclusion. More than a dozen electric utilities nationwide are experimenting with the technology."

     

    PPL scraps retail internet-over-power-lines trial
    10/3/2005, Reuters -- In reporting about the ending of the major BPL trial by PPL in Allentown, PA, Reuters notes, "Still, some analysts have warned that most utilities don't have the skills to compete in the market or the balance sheets to support the capital investments that would be necessary to get BPL up and running."

     

    Lehigh Valley BPL Pilot Scrapped PPL Telecom won't pursue
    10/2/2005 -- PPL Telecom has decided to scrap its broadband over power line trials currently underway in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley (Press release). Customers had told us the company offered 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps speeds at $20 a month for 3 months, and $37 thereafter. "While our market trials indicate that BPL technology is promising, the combination of a competitive marketplace and the need for significant scale has led us to the decision not to proceed as a retail communications service provider," says company president David Kelley.

     

    PPL Corporation Will End Its Residential Broadband Over Power Lines Market Trial
    10/3/2005, Yahoo -- PPL announced that it is ending its BPL marketing trial in the Allentown, PA area. They indicated that the technology is "promising," but the competitive marketplace and the "significant scale" involved led them to decide not to proceed as a retail communications service provider. More information is available at http://www.pplweb.com.

     

    BPL: The Uninvited Guest
    10/3/2005, EDN magazine -- This sidebar to an article about ultrawideband outlines the reasons that BPL has been strongly opposed by various radiocommunications services. The physical medium of power lines does not contain the BPL signal on its conductors like cable or DSL does, but radiates most of the signal along power lines, creating potential and actual interference problems to licensed users.

     

    Time to take a closer look at BPL
    10/1/2005, RF Design -- This editorial notes that although BPL has had encountered interference problems, the author is confident that the interference issues can be resolved. "I am sure there are frequency ranges, modulation techniques, power levels, shielding technologies and other methodologies that can be developed to address the interference problem. Just as the innovators have created this broadband technology, I am sure they will also find a solution to eliminate this problem." (Those in this industry that have done what it takes to eliminate -- not just reduce -- harmful interference problems have shown that his hope can be achieved. -- Ed.)

     

    Broadband Over Power Line Hype Doesn't Match Reality, According to Energy Insights Study
    9/27/2005, Energy Insights -- This article describes an industry study that outlines that the poor track record of success and inexperience by electric utilities in running telecommunications systems will limit the growth of BPL.

     

    BPL: Hype Vs. Reality: Research firms not bullish
    9/27/2005, DSL Reports -- Design Technica points to an analysis of broadband over powerline (BPL) from energy stat firm Energy Insights. "We believe that a lack of utility expertise in running commercially successful consumer telecom businesses and a poor track record of success, combined with utility reluctance to rapidly adopt new technologies, and competition from DSL, cable modems, and other emerging technologies will limit the growth of BPL," the report concludes. Another research firm recently predicted BPL would only linger around 0.5% of the total broadband market.

     

    Broadband Folo
    09/23/2005, Stateline -- This is a transcript of a broadcast by Stateline, an Australian broadcasting company. Even when confronted by the audio recording of interference from the BPL trial operating in Australia, the industry is denying that there is a problem.

     

    In Katrina's Wake, Ham Radio Triumphs
    9/19/2005, Electronic Design on-line -- This article provides a snapshot of the value that Amateur Radio provides in emergency communications. It also describes the threat it faces from technologies like BPL that can, if their systems continue to use the Amateur bands, render this type of public service impossible.

     

    Broadband over power lines gathers steam
    9/12/2005, EE Times -- The summer's frantic activity might convince a skeptic that BPL's well-documented problems with external interference from ham radio operators' shortwave transmitters and other sources had been solved. Yet, these problems not only persist but also join other deployment woes that could slow effective adoption of power lines for broadband access. On the standards front, the HomePlug Powerline Alliance already has defined physical-layer (PHY) and media-access control-layer (MAC) chips for the 200-Mbit/second extension to the in-building networking standard, HomePlug 1.0 + AV (see story, page 6). The alliance has recommended using the same PHY and MAC for the BPL solution. The IEEE's participation could throw a wrench into the effort to find a common base for AV and BPL.

     

    Sparks Fly as Electric Grid becomes infrastructure for data networks
    8/22/2005, ComputerWorld -- "Broadband over power lines (BPL), the ability to transmit data, voice and video over standard electrical power lines, has long angered many ham radio operators who claim that BPL interferes with their ability to transmit or receive signals. BPL has also alarmed some, such as the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, whose members depend on radio spectrum near BPL transmission frequencies. And Lawrence Spiwak, president of the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Policy Studies in Washington and a former general counsel at the FCC, says, 'Most power companies don't think BPL is ready for prime time because they are very sensitive about protecting grid reliability.'"

     

    BPL: Hot or Not?
    8/20/2005, DSL Reports -- Tons of interest, still may go nowhere: Broadband over powerline (BPL) is getting renewed attention thanks to Google (investor), Motorola (creating a wireless hybrid solution hams seem to like), Earthlink (possible bell end around), and IBM (Trials in Texas). The Register explores progress being made on the IEEE P1901 standard, which will cover everything from home networking via internal wiring, to the controversial last mile solution everyone's familiar with. Does all this action mean the technology will be a viable third competitive pipe? Probably not, suggests analysts.

     

    Power-Line Networking: The Next Generation
    8/19/2005, PC World -- HomePlug announces the completion of the HomePlug AV specification, the next generation in HomePlug in-building power-line networking.

     

    Web access may be as close as an electrical outlet
    8/14/2005, Christian Science Monitor -- "<Interference> is still is an issue, and as long as it is an issue, it's going to be a major hindrance for BPL," says Nicole Klein, an analyst who tracks broadband trends at the Yankee Group in Boston. She's less optimistic about BPL's future. "It's kind of touch-and-go," she says. "There have been many, many trials but only a couple of commercial offerings." Besides competing with cable and phone companies on price and speed, BPL also faces challenges from other technologies, including efforts to bring fiber-optic cable into homes and WiMAX, a wireless signal that can carry for several miles.

     

    Review of FCC Report & Order 04-245 on Broadband Over Power Lines (BPL)
    7/29/2005, Conformity Magazine -- This article is an excellent tutorial about BPL and the requirements of the FCC report and order. It outlines the spectrum that must be protected under the rules and additional spectrum that will need to be protected to meet the rules requiring that BPL not cause harmful interference.

     

    BPL: Under 0.5 Percent of Broadband Market
    And likely to stay there...

    7/25/2005, DSL Reports -- Despite the FCC's hope that broadband over powerlines will become a considerable player in the broadband market, new data indicates it sits at under 0.5 percent of the market - and will remain there. CommsDesign offers up this stat sheet - which among other things - notes that 30 of the 80 global BPL trials are taking place in the United States. According to IMI research, "the volume of BPL deployments will have to increase substantially during the next 12-18 months if this technology is going to gain any ground.”

     

    BPL/PLC News Article on Swiss Television
    7/15/2005, HB Time -- This newcast was broadcast in French on Swiss television. It states that PLC In Europe is losing momentum and showing its limitations. Leaks causing disruption to shortwave reception are most noticeable within a neighborhood of 10m from the PLC adapter. It also seems less of a priority than existing radio services. The regulators, OFCOM, still want to give it a chance since the field of telecommunication can evolve quickly. SIGE, an electric utility in Geneva, Switzerland claims a "lack of closure" after testing it. A hospital might have liked PLC due to its simplicity and low cost . The piece shows a brief clip of very strong interference to shortwave reception from BPL.

     

    BPL infrastructure nearly complete
    7/7/2005, Potomac News -- The Main.net BPL system in Manassas, VA is nearly complete. They report that out of 12,000 homes, approximately 500 residents have chosen to purchase the service. They also report that they are working successfully with local amateur radio operators, but the local hams report that they have not been able to correct interference and that complaints are ongoing.

     

    CHESAPEAKE BUSINESS: Powering up rural Internet access
    7/5/2005, AP Alert -- This article discusses the BPL trials taking place in southern Maryland. Although touted by some as being useful for rural deployment, the article says, "Subodh Nayar, director of operations for Powerline Telco Inc., a Fairfax, Va., company running the pilot program. The signals need to be boosted periodically or else they slow down, he said. On miles of power lines with few users, that could degrade Internet service. Some of the cooperatives run lines decades old that have been spliced and repaired, which can further weaken the signals." ARRL staff also note that interference is still an ongoing problem in most BPL deployments.

     

    BPL Gives Short Shrift to Short Wave
    7/1/2005, Compliance Engineering magazine -- This article outlines the reasons that some BPL technologies have not effectively addressed their interference issues, as well as outlining the successes of others. The final sentences summarize the need best: "The time to address these interference problems is now, when there are still relatively few commercial sites. FCC must keep its promise that offending systems will be required to resolve interference issues."

     

    Measuring The Costs Of Broadband Services
    7/1/2005, Microwaves and RF -- The editor of Microwaves and RF accompanied ARRL staff to the Amperion BPL site operated by United Illuminating in Shelton, CT. He documented strong interference to amateur and shortwave spectrum along the entire length of power line in downtown Shelton, and beyond. Any claims by the BPL industry that interference is an old problem were debunked by this well-respected technical publication. The article concludes by noting the value of BPL, but being clear that resolving interference is important to its future.

     

    Low Frequency Radiated Fields: Equipment And Issues
    7/1/2005, Conformity magazine -- This article is somewhat technical, but it shows clearly some of the measurement difficulties making measurements below 30 MHz in the near-field region of radiators. Figure 5 shows that over most of the HF range (3-30 MHz), for the distances used to make FCC BPL measurements, an extrapolation of 20 dB/decade should be made to determine compliance with the rules.

     

    Broadband Over Power Lines Showing Initial Success?
    6/14/2005, TMC Net News -- "Broadband Over Power Lines Showing Initial Success?" Reporter Al Bredenberg received feedback about BPL's potential for interference after his last story was published. In this article, he declares: "At first glance, you might think this is a great idea -- taking advantage of existing infrastructure ... a potential solution to the last-mile problem .... But when we published stories about this previously, I heard back from the American Radio Relay League, who raised some interesting objections."

     

    House resolution seeks FCC reconsideration of BPL
    6/9/2005, MRT magazine -- "ARRL, formerly known as the American Radio Relay League, this week expressed support for a proposed U.S. House of Representatives resolution that asks the FCC to "reconsider and review" its interference policies as they relate to broadband-over-powerline (BPL) deployments."

     

    HomePlug
    6/9/2005, BBC World -- This BBC World article about Homeplug promises, benefits and drawbacks -- including potential interference to SWL, a topic near and dear to BBC. The article is balanced, but does have a quote of interest: " In 2004, BBC researchers conducted an investigation into Homeplug-compliant power line communications, to see whether they did affect radio reception. They found that as soon as data starts flowing, the radio signal is obliterated."

     

    BPL Gets Kicked Around
    6/7/2005, BroadbandReports.com -- A bill in Texas urging the testing of broadband over power-line (BPL) service has stalled and died. Last week, Nebraska passed a law banning the technology. One shred of hope for BPL advocates is Motorola's new hardware, which uses a wireless backhaul to the electricity pole (or pad-mounted transformer), then sends connectivity to the home via the electrical system.

     

    Senate bill to allow Texas BPL testing fails
    6/7/2005, Midland Reporter Telegram -- The medium voltage power lines are not meant to transmit communication, they are designed to carry electricity. The equipment necessary to carry electricity often creates interference with short-wave communication. Electric companies and radio users, like Gene Preston work together to eliminate these types of interference. For 28 years Preston has worked as an electrical engineer with Austin Electric Utility. Currently retired, he educates amateur radio operators on how to locate interference caused by power lines and ways to approach their electric company to resolve the problem. Often interference from power lines is caused by loose or worn out equipment such as insulators, lightening arrestors and transformers. If BPL is to be utilized these problems would have to be addressed more frequently. In the case of radio users this interference is only a problem when transmitting near the source of interference on the power lines.

     

    BPL, or the curious case of throwing good money after bad
    July 7, 2005: Broadband over Powerline as a technology is a curiosity at best, and well a long shot at worst. Today Google, Goldman Sachs and Hearst announced that they are going to pump $100 million into Current Communications, an equipment maker for the BPL sector. Why Google would do this, I am not sure, though Mike has some ideas. John Paczkowski riffs, about their motives!I just want to bring to attention the fact, that despite best efforts, BPL has remained stuck in neutral for a very long time, and there hasn’t been any breakthrough in recent times to make me feel more optimistic.

     

    Cheap DSL Dooms Dial-Up
    6/3/2005, Forbes.com -- Can BPL compete with DSL at $14.95 per month from SBC?

     

    Bye-Bye Dial-Up: Broadband Ubiquity Chugging Right Along
    6/2/2005, Information Week -- Competing technologies for broadband distribution, such as the recently FCC-sanctified broadband over power lines (BPL) are not currently seen as significant contenders for widespread consumer access, nor as competitors to either cable for DSL distributors. BPL, in Laszlo's opinion, is not cost-effective, and radio-interference is a concern.

     

    ARRL enthused about Motorola BPL system
    6/1/2005, Mobile Radio Technology magazine -- "<A spokesman for Motorola, who is also> a 35-year amateur-radio operator, said his company has been working with ARRL to help design a solution that would not introduce the interference that amateur-radio operators have opposed so vehemently during BPL trials in the U.S. during the past year. Ensuring that Motorola was not identified with interference-causing BPL technologies was important, he said."

     

    Broadband Access Poses Problems
    6/1/2005, Microwaves and RF -- "Broadband power-line (BPL) communications on the surface seemed like the answer. Power lines already run everywhere, even to those remote customers. The infrastructure is already in place. There is just one slight problem, as many readers to a recent Microwaves & RF UPDATE e-mail newsletter (5/5/05) editorial piece on BPL pointed out: high-speed/high-frequency signals sent over power lines tends to turn that infrastructure into a giant, radiating antenna, generating scads of interference for existing applications. In particular, amateur-radio operators are affected and, as the response to that e-mail newsletter item bore out, they are a highly spirited and vocal lot. Their enthusiasm for their bandwidth and their desire to keep it free of "BPL pollution" is praiseworthy and has inspired a closer look at BPL interference in a July news Special Report. Broadband access is attractive, but not at too high a price, including to the amateur-radio community."

     

    HECO broadband via power line experiment scaled back
    5/27/2005, Pacific Business News -- This article explains that the Hawaiian Electric Company has scaled back its plans to trial BPL in Hawaii due to unspecified technical issues. "The problem involves some of the equipment needed to set up the systems underground, Unemori said. The equipment is available only in prototype, a HECO spokesman said. Plus, she said, the prototype isn't compatible with HECO's underground infrastructure in Pearl City."

     

    ARRL CEO Dave Sumner welcomes Motorola's Powerline LV BPL system
    5/27/2005, Broadband over Power Line World #34 -- In this audio interview, Sumner said that he thought this Canopy-HomePlug hybrid system would support, and even improve the reliability of, utilities' efforts to more closely monitor and control the operations of their power grids, while also allowing them to provide end user Internet connectivity.

     

    ARRL enthused about new Motorola BPL technology
    5/26/2005, MRT Magazine -- This article describes the work ARRL did with Motorola to help them develop BPL that has a low interference potential to Amateur Radio.

     

    Broadband Over Power Lines
    5/24/2005, Forbes -- Bottom Line: BPL works, but it's unlikely to take off as a mainstream solution. Some analysts think it might capture as much as 20% of the broadband market.

     

    Congressman Mike Ross of Arkanas Answers Questions About House Resolution 230
    5/24/2004, BPL World -- Speaking about House Resolution 230, a pending action that would ask the FCC to reconsider the BPL Report and Order, Ross says that the existing emissions limits are too high and were never intende to apply to a system like BPL.

     

    Broadband over Power Line Symposium at UTC TELECOM 2005
    5/19/2005, Broadband over Power Line World #32 -- Among the points made by Mr. Kilbourne (Director of Regulatory Affairs at the United Power Line Council (UPLC)) in this interview were that House Resolution 230, sponsored by U.S. Representative Mike Ross of Arkansas, which asks the FCC to delay the deployment of broadband over power line (BPL) until further studies, public comment, and publishing of these take place, was not likely to pass the Congress and was only advisory in nature in any event; that utilities see getting into the telecommunications space as an important adjunct to their current core lines of business; and that they are open to, and already are, using wireless and fiber optic technologies, not just BPL, as the means for getting into that space.

     

    Flawed BPL is no broadband panacea
    5/17/2005, IT Managers Journal -- "After having spent some considerable time researching this story, I'm left primarily with a sense of deja vu. BPL today is like the very worst of the dot com era: mythological, deliberately misstated, and majorly overhyped technology that is being used in ways it was never designed to be in the first place. The FCC's role in the BPL soap opera has been less than stellar. I asked Dave Sumner, ARRL's CEO and Secretary, if the FCC stance on BPL seemed out of the ordinary, based on his dealings with them over the years. He replied: 'Yes, it does. Historically the FCC has a reasonably good record of basing its decisions on sound technical analysis. However, Chairman Powell was cheerleading for BPL before the facts were in and continued to do so even after there was clear evidence that radio interference would be a major problem. Now that he has left the FCC we're hopeful that more sober leadership will recognize the need for reconsideration."

     

    2003 Update on the Powerline Industry
    5/13/2005, Powerline Publishing -- "For the purposes of regulation, there are emissive (radiation) aspects that come into play because an RF modulation is used on the electric networks and RF radiates as those networks are neither perfectly terminated and adapted coaxial conductors, nor perfectly matched antenna structures. Here the argument is crucial if the resulting radiation is 'unintentional' or 'intentional'. If it is held to be unintentional, then it is subject to existing regulations as 'RF frequency noise'. The regulator has set fairly stringent values that RF noise must not exceed (dependent on frequency). Those values are so low that for Powerline applications, given the "leaky" network structures, modulation levels that are permissible no longer give an adequate range of transmission on the networks. An albeit costly remedy is to use repeaters to increase the range."

     

    Lawmakers Introduce Homeland Security Bills
    5/6/2005, GoExec.com USA -- Mike Ross, D-Ark., introduced H.Res. 230, which states that the FCC "should reconsider and revise rules governing broadband over power line systems." According to the resolution, the FCC has not sufficiently studied potential interference and the "FCC should conduct a full and complete radio wave interference analysis involving field studies and broadband over power line test demonstration systems, to determine the actual, measured effect of broadband over power line on public safety systems, and a comprehensive interference analysis, with the participation of public safety agencies and organizations, and other interested parties."

     

    Why broadband PLT is bad for EMC
    April 20, 2005, Elmac Services -- Broadband internet communication is here to stay, but its method of delivery is still controversial. This paper looks at the technology of Power Line Telecommunications (PLT) through the lens of an EMC specialist, and attempts to explain why broadband through PLT is a dangerous and divisive issue.

     

    The gridlock in electrical cyberspace
    4/18/2005, Inadaily.com -- In October 2003, the two country's two largest electricity companies, Endesa and Iberdrola, began offering their customers the possibility of connecting to the Internet via their power sockets. Only 6,000 households, however, have so far taken up the offer, compared to the 2.7 million who access the Internet via the telephone. Part of the reason for this low take-up is the relative instability of the technology, coupled with a lack of interest from the electricity companies. Even so, the European Union has just published a series of recommendations aimed at increasing this method of Internet access.

     

    Scepticism about EU powerline moves
    4/17/2005, The Sunday Business Post (Ireleand) -- There is widespread scepticism about the feasibility of delivering broadband over electricity lines in Ireland, despite recent EU moves to promote the service.

     

    Confirmed - Broadband over Power Lines - it's bonkers
    4/15/2005, Ofcom Watch -- Ofcom is the Brit version of the FCC, Ofcomwatch is a site covering Ofcom issues. A good response to an Ofcom Watch question about whether the European Commission's plans to promote broadband over power lines was off the mark. ...

     

    Beware of BPL Conditions
    4/1/2005, In Tech magazine -- "For all of the potential benefits, BPL also produces a huge amount of radio noise, or interference, over a broad range of frequencies that can affect many licensed radio services, from police, fire, and emergency medical services to international broadcasting and worldwide ham radio communications. In addition, non-licensed but popular radio services, such as CB and radio-controlled models, could also be affected." This is reader feedback to an earlier article, Power lines could blow away DSL, cable

     

    BPL: Betting Against The Odds?
    4/1/2005, Public Utilities Fortnightly -- "New entrants into markets where incumbents already are operating typically face an uphill battle. In these markets, BPL has to compete with DSL and cable modem in terms of price, service quality, and brand. For the market currently unaddressed by DSL and cable modem, BPL has an advantage, but the lack of density in these markets makes achieving scale and favorable economics a challenge."

     

    Broadband over Power Lines Update
    4/1/2005, SCTE Standards Bulletin -- The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers is watching BPL. This article notes that there are now multiple in-house and access technologies looking to compete for the same wiring in houses. These technologies are neither interoperable nor compatible.

     

    Broadband Over Power Lines
    4/1/2005 -- Network Magazine --"As an access technology, BPL must overcome regulatory barriers before it can become a viable alternative to DSL and cable. Products for private networks are already here, but they have trouble competing with Ethernet and Wi-Fi except in niche markets such as the hotel business. . . But there are severe obstacles that could prevent BPL's potential from being realized. Though it's already being used successfully in Germany and Australia, the architecture of the American power grid makes it harder to implement in the United States. . . The problem is that sending broadband data over high-voltage overhead wires can turn the electric grid into a giant radio transmitter, and one tuned to the particularly valuable shortwave band. . . The FCC is also restricting BPL, but for more noble reasons. Access BPL can cause interference at shortwave radio frequencies, which are particularly valuable for communications. . . The problem is that no one can agree on precisely which frequencies should be filtered. Almost every frequency in the shortwave spectrum is used for communications of some kind. Filtering all of them would leave nothing for BPL, while allowing any at all would upset other users.. .According to EarthLink, BPL-only systems can use very cheap CPE, but building out the network itself is expensive: Utilities require at least 15 percent penetration to cover their costs. 



    Interest in Broadband over Power Lines grows
    4/1/2005, Technologies Across Nebraska Newsletter, TANgents Special Policy Issue 2005 -- "BPL potential benefits include enhancing security and reliability of electric service as well as providing broadband service The number of Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) tests and full-scale deployments in the United States has grown to nearly 100, including tests of BPL equipment by the Omaha Public Power District. BPL potentially offers many benefits, including enhancing security and reliability of electric service as well as providing broadband services. Questions remain regarding possible radio interference to licensed services, including AM radio and emergency services. BPL also raises numerous policy issues which will need to be addressed at both the state and federal level. "

     

    States Considering Anti-Municipal Broadband Bills
    3/23/2005, Government Technology -- A growing number of states are promoting legislation that would ban local governments from providing access broadband in competition with other access BPL providers. Depending on the language of the bills, this could prevent local-government-owned utilities from selling broadband to their customers.

     

    BPL not viable in rural areas
    3/7/2005, Wired (Omik blog) -- "BPL service in rural areas means installing and maintaining repeaters every mile or so. And right now that costs too much."

     

    Broadband Over Power Lines: Citizens Band in Jeopardy
    3/6/2005, Popular Wireless Magazine -- The Citizens Radio Service, Amateur Radio Service, and even the short wave listening hobby are in danger of suffering severe interference on their radio receivers because of the FCC's approval of a new information technology called Broadband over Power lines, or BPL.

     

    Utilities offer new source of broadband Power lines 
    3/6/2005, The Star Ledger -- The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in a report last year, warned that BPL signals, which leak from unshielded overhead electrical lines, could interfere with nearby bands used by any of the 59,000 licensed users, including police, fire and other homeland security and emergency communications. Ham radio operators have complained of interference from pilot projects, and are lobbying heavily against BPL deployments. (paid)

     

    Sparks fly over power line Internet trials
    3/2/2005, PC World -- This article about BPL in Australia notes, "However, a range of services will be adversely affected by BPL, according to Martin Howells, the NSW State Coordinator for A.C.R.E.M. (Australian Citizens Radio Emergency Monitors). Howells said AM broadcast radio, amateur radio, HF maritime radio, HF aircraft frequencies, RFDS, School of the Air, 4WD safety and emergency networks, SES and Police HF radio networks, and various other HF radio users and emergency services were all prone to interference by the technology. Glenn Dunstan, a consulting engineer at Densham & Associates, said the nature of BPL meant it would always create serious side effects. 'Tons of documents prove without a doubt that it does not work,' he said. 'It [power lines] is designed to carry AC voltage, not radio signals. . . Power lines tend to radiate the HF frequencies just like a giant 'long-wire' antenna,' he said. 'It is impossible for the BPL provider to filter all HF frequencies, as this would basically kill the technology, so obviously there is going to be some frequencies radiated from the power lines to be received by nearby receivers.'"

     

    Study: Powerline broadband set to grow in 2005
    2/25/2005, PC World -- "Two other speakers at the NMRC raised questions about BPL's future. While BPL has the potential to serve 13 million US households in the next three to five years, interference problems and a reluctance from many electric companies to offer new services may slow its development, said Barry Goodstadt, vice president at market research firm Harris Interactive. A handful of BPL trials in Europe and elsewhere have been shut down because of interference problems, added Robert Olsen, an electrical engineering professor at Washington State University. While the FCC has set down rules about interference, those rules have not yet been challenged in the real world, he added. Interference is 'the real wild card,' Olsen said. Martin Howells, the NSW State Coordinator of Australian Citizens Radio Emergency Monitors (ACREM) says Interference is not only a wild card, but the real problem. These US problems are very similar to those found in Australian tests. 'Although the ACA and others are advocating that 'Australian power distribution networks are different to those used in the USA and Europe', these 'differences' will have very little impact on the effects of BPL which is largely due to transmitting HF radio frequencies across unshielded power lines, a fact that is not different in Australia,' Howells said."

     

    To Wire or Not to Wire
    2/24/2005, Wi-Fi Planet -- Telecom Ottawa's CEO Dave Dobbin describes why he is more bullish on Wi-Fi that BPL. Although he notes that IEEE 802.11 systems may not always be ideal under all circumstances, he notes "It mainly comes down to economics, he explains. 'Wi-Fi is seriously cheap. It would take selling millions of BPL units for it to get to the same place.' The implication is clear: BPL will never be that successful."

     

    WPKN Bridgeport CT Radio BPL Interview
    1/30/2005 -- ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager, Allen Pitts, W1AGP, interviewed regarding basics and threats in BPL deployment. (Approx 40 min.)

     

    DSL Reports - Various articles about legislative bands in municipal broadband
    1/28/2005, DSL Reports -- These articles discuss the various successes or legal battles, lawsuits and legislation seeking to ban municipalities and some electric utilities from entering the broadband market.

     

    Boro drops Internet proposal
    1/27/2005, Public Opinion, Chambersburg, PA -- Citing financial and regulatory hurdles, the Borough of Chambersburg, PA dropped its BPL project. The borough paid a New York-based consulting firm $17,000 last year to do a feasibility study of what it would take to provide BPL service and how much it would cost. The decision is being welcomed by local amateur radio enthusiasts, who opposed BPL. Members of the Cumberland Valley Amateur Radio Club told Borough Council in the fall that BPL would interfere with ham radio and important emergency communications. An article on the ARRL web page addresses this issue from an amateur-radio perspective.

     

    Wake up and smell the coffee
    1/27/2005, Radio Netherlands -- This article notes that interference from BPL is more than an "amateur radio" problem. International shortwave broadcast reception is also at risk. It asks the burning question -- Why are international shortwave broadcasters not being more active in trying to prevent the interference to BPL that is inevitable to their spectrum in areas where it is deployed? Radio Netherlands featured BPL in a broadcast that aired recently.

     

    Internet Noise Threatens Emergency Communications
    1/15/2005, New Scientist Magazine -- This well-respected lay-science publication discusses the interference aspects of BPL. "Unless interference of this kind is tightly controlled, it could spell the end for emergency short-wave communications. "A few extra decibels of interference from future networks and I would not have been able to hear the news from amateurs in Sri Lanka, India and the Andaman Islands," says Hilary Claytonsmith of the International Amateur Radio Union's UK branch."

     

    Telecommunications Attorney Jim Baller speaks on broadband
    1/6/2005, Broadband over Power Line World -- "The interview covered in particular detail questions relating to the rights and value of cities deploying broadband access networks for their citizens. Mr. Baller believes that municipalities can and should be working vigorously to facilitate broadband access for the citizens and businesses that reside within them. He also believes that "all municipalities should have a clear and unequivocal right" to build and/or operate such systems for the benefit of their citizens and businesses, themselves, and the current and future economic development of the United States. He also believes that, technically speaking, the optimal configuration for such muni-broadband systems would be a hybrid arrangement involving the integration of fiber optic and wireless equipment."

     

    A new way to plug into the Internet
    1/4/2005, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- This article describes Southern Electric's initial foray into BPL in its trial near Birmingham, AL. Southern spokesman Leif Ericson notes that the reliability has thusfar been spotty. " 'In some cases, it was reliable,' Ericson says. 'In others it was off-and-on, depending on the technology. . . 'The 'generation one' technology isn't commercially viable," Ericson says. 'You would have outages. The signal could not be received for a short period of time.'" According to the article, Southern is looking toward the next-generation BPL products.

     

    Ed Hare, ARRL Laboratory Manager, says that group "has the doors wide open" to cooperation with BPL industry to resolve interference issues 1/3/2005, Broadband over Power Line World -- "Ed Hare spoke today with Broadband over Power Line World about a wide range of technical and administrative issues involved in the generation and mitigation of radio frequency (RF) interference from broadband over powerline (BPL) installations. He struck a concerned-but-conciliatory tone, saying that the ARRL "has the doors wide open" to cooperation with the BPL industry regarding the resolution of interference issues involving the two technologies. He said that past cooperative efforts between ARRL and purveyors of other broadband technologies, including DSL, cable, and HomePlug® (BPL within a building) have resulted in favorable outcomes, and called for finding common ground."

  • 2006

    Will The Real Rural Broadband Solution please stand up!
    12/14/2006, VSatus Satellite Internet News -- "3. Broadband over Powerlines (BPL): Another one of the 'ultimate' answers for Rural America, BPL has encountered many of the same cost issues that plague widespread WiMax deployment. To keep the speed up to broadband levels, this technology requires LOTS of equipment on the powerlines they carry the broadband over. Even with the recent ruling by the FCC to make BPL more competitive with other types of broadband by changing it's designation to 'Information Service', FCC Commissioner, Michael Copps, suggested that even with a level playing field there hasn't been much effort to build infrastructure by the Utilities. That doesn't even include the pressure that the Ham Radio operators have and will bring to try to stop this technology dead in it's tracks." 
     

      

    Hams Say Martin Misrepresenting BPL -- And using inaccurate BPL industry data to do so...
    12/8/2006, Broadband Reports -- The American Radio Relay League isn't particularly impressed with FCC Chief Kevin Martin's portrayal of BPL (broadband over powerline) technology of late. Martin has been praising the technology as a viable competitor to DSL and cable despite the fact it's pretty clear by now it's a troubled niche solution at best. The ARRL says that during a recent BPL praising presentation by Martin, he presented deployment slides provided by a pro-BPL group (UPLC) that listed BPL projects that had already been shut down due to problems. The group also laments that Martin likes to downplay the technology's well discussed tendency to cause radio spectrum pollution."
    See also: League Faults FCC Chairman Re Biased, Inaccurate BPL Presentation Information


    HECO does not plan to provide Internet access
    12/4/2006, Honolulu Star Bulletin -- "'HECO isn't planning to get into the Internet provider business,' although its pilot project is continuing, said spokesman Jose Dizon. HECO initially announced plans to wire about 100 homes in Pearl City to test the 'Broadband Over Powerlines,' or BPL, technology, but decided last year to scale back the project. 'A few' customers in the McCully area are currently participating in the pilot project, Dizon said. ... HECO is interested in using BPL for various utility applications, to see if it can improve service to customers through advanced metering, outage detection, substation monitoring, etc., Dizon said. He said an inherent challenge with BPL is the cost to purchase and install equipment to bypass transformers and to amplify the broadband signal. HECO hasn't yet ruled out BPL, he said, but it is also looking at other technologies, such as 'wi-fi' and wireless, as the communications media for utility applications, such as reading customer's meters. For these two other technologies, 'HECO is not providing its own Internet service,' Dizon said. Instead, it is using other Internet providers as the communications medium. 'Again, our focus is on utility applications that benefit customers by improving reliability and productivity of our operations,' Dizon said. 'Providing Internet service is not our focus and we do not plan on entering that business.'"

     

    Why BPL isn't coming soon
    11/27/2006, Telecom Trends -- "In Canada, the vast majority of electric utilities are owned by municipalities with very different business drivers."

     

    2004 2005 2006 the Year of BPL
    11/20/2006, Broadband Reports -- "Each year we watch the broadband over powerline (BPL) industry proclaim that this year is 'the year' BPL will shine, and each year we see limited trials and hesitant utilities, yet no absence of optimistic chatter from the FCC and BPL hardware vendors. . .  Some thought broadband would soon be pouring from every electrical outlet, offering a viable third player in a market many think is little more than a stagnant coordinated duopoly. Kevin Martin declared BPL held 'great promise' as a 'ubiquitous broadband solution' that could help the country achieve President Bush's declaration of universal broadband by 2007. Meanwhile, back in reality, a flood of radio engineers pointed out that powerlines really weren't suitable for bandwidth transmission. Interference issues were documented, trials in a number of foreign countries were shut down and even the NTIA began to worry that the technology wasn't fully cooked. BPL skepticism began to set in...unless you worked at the FCC or for a BPL hardware vendor. . .  Fast forward nearly three years: The FCC's last broadband report (pdf) listed 5,859 BPL customers in the United States as of December, 2005. The majority of those customers are still participating in utility trials that may or may not continue. Many utilities are interested in BPL solely as a smart-network monitoring solution and aren't sold on becoming broadband providers. Perhaps 2007 will be the BPL industry's lucky year?"



    Broadband Over Powerlines: The Technology Of The Perpetual Future...
    11/30/2006, TechDirt.com -- "We've been hearing about the supposed wonders of "broadband over powerlines" (BPL) for many, many years. There were some reports in the mid-nineties about the technology, where it was made pretty clear that powerlines really couldn't handle BPL at any serious scale, but that hasn't stopped plenty of companies from trying over the years -- nearly all of which have received tons of hype from the press and the FCC (who desperately wants another offering to hit the market, so they can claim that there's real competition in broadband)."

     

    BPL Hotel Trial in Canada Discontinued
    11/18/2006, DyorkLiveJournal.com -- This article outlines the reasons that a test of BPL in a hotel in Ontario was discontinued.



    The FCC Gives Love to Powerline Broadband
    11/3/2006, Broadband Reports -- "The FCC's last broadband report (pdf) listed 5,859 BPL customers in the United States as of December, 2005. The majority of those customers are participating in utility trials that may, or may not, expand. Many utilities are interested in BPL solely as a smart-network monitoring solution, and are not yet sold on the ROI of getting into the residential broadband business."


    Broadband Power
    10/20/2006, PC World  -- "For example, in August, Tasmanian radio groups conducted noise tests of the Aurora trial in Hobart. They claimed the BPL signal in the un-notched area (the location where there is no attenuation of the BPL signal) was between 3 times (5dB) and 5000 times (37dB) stronger than what would be heard there if the BPL system didn't exist. In the area where they use notching to lower the interference levels, the signals are between 8 times (9dB) and 25 times (14dB) higher than what would be heard there if the BPL system didn't exist, says Martin Howells, national director of the Australian Citizens Radio Emergency Monitors group. This significant increase in the background noise would mean that nothing but the very strongest radio signals would be heard by a HF radio user within the BPL area."

     

    Broadband by Power Lines Moves Forward
    10/15/2006, PC World -- "'"I take the concerns of [the amateur radio] community very seriously, and believe that the FCC has an obligation to work hard to monitor, investigate, and take quick action where appropriate to resolve harmful interference,' <FCC Commissioner> Copps says. 'If an amateur radio user makes a complaint and an agreement between the BPL provider and the amateur radio user cannot be reached, the FCC should step in and resolve the matter.'"

     

    HomePlug Powerline Alliance selects Yitran modem technology
    9/28/2006, ferret.com/au -- The HomePlug Powerline Alliance announced the selection of Yitran Communications’ IT800 powerline modem technology (available through Glyn High-Tech Distribution ) as the baseline technology for its HomePlug Command and Control specification.


    Net Over Power Lines Gets FCC Nod
    8/3/2006, Wired News -- The FCC agrees that BPL can cause interference, but not enough to warrant its censure. Industry analyst Frank Dzubeck, president of Communication Network Architects, said the next option for opposition groups is the courts. "It's now up to the lobbying efforts and the legal beagles to take up the case," he said.


    Earthlink comments on BPL and other technologies (MP3 file, 20 MB)
    Other topics: Broadband over powerline (BPL) as a way to reach service to tall buildings (and EarthLink's investment in Current, a BPL tech/deployment firm); why EarthLink declined to bid on Wireless Silicon Valley; and why Berryman is so excited about the train-based Internet/operations network proposal for the Capitol Corridor rail line in California for which EarthLink is one of four firms building test networks. Whew. [42 min.]

     

    Powerline promises broken on broadband
    5/22/2006, Telephony Online -- "'[BPL] is one of the only technologies that's been the same for the last four, five, six years,' said Nicole Klein, an analyst at Yankee Group. Even the introduction of new, speedier chipsets seems 'kind of like a shoulder shrug,' she said. . . . Just by staying alive, ComTek's and Current's deployments stand out as sterling successes in a sector littered with abandoned BPL trials, Klein said. Plenty of BPL projects have turned out like the one begun in Penn Yan, N.Y., in 2003, which was rejected in 2004 because of security and interference concerns and replaced with a trial of wireless mesh technology. . . . But BPL proponents seemed to have learned their lesson. No matter how optimistic they might be, no one is willing to call 2006 'the year of BPL.'"

     

    Broadband over Power Lines: Ready or Not? 4/6/2006, TMCnet - "A recent Pike & Fischer report titled 'Broadband over Power Lines: Is it Ready to Charge Up?' finds that, while electric utilities control an important wire into American homes, 'there are not a lot of options for new market entry that make good economic sense.'"


    Broadband over power line’s ham radio problem- and vice versa
    3/20/2006, ZDNet -- "We hear lots of praise of how Broadband over Power Line (BPL) technology holds promise as a route for signals into the home that can get around the cable-telecom duopoly. And how BPL can also be a conduit for broadband in rural areas that are too far from switching offices for DSL to work right, and haven’t been wired up for broadband cable. Like so many other magic bullets, though, this solution proves too good to be true much of the time."

     

    Net over power lines irks amateur radio lovers
    3/19/2006, USA Today (AP) -- "George Tarnovsky can hear the Internet as he drives down Main Street in Manassas, Va., a rapid rattle emanating from the ham radio in his Chevy Tahoe. 'Suddenly you hear this incredible signal,' Tarnovsky said. The radio interference, which can resemble rapid clicks or the whine of a phone-line modem, comes from a system that provides high-speed Internet access to about 1,000 Manassas customers through their power lines. 'The interference makes ham radio all but impossible in the Washington, D.C., suburb, Tarnovsky said."

     

    Manassas Hams Continue BPL Fight Comtek continues to deny there's any problems
    3/19/2006, DSL Reports -- "Comtek recently got tired of the debate and went on the offensive, claiming such interference complaints had been resolved, and that ham groups like the ARRL were engaged in a 'campaign to turn back the clock on broadband in the United States.' " ' It's unfortunate for ComTek that in their hurry they went with an early BPL design that causes problems.' retorted ARRL spokesman Alan Pitt at the time. 'As a matter of fact, ham radio people are often the first to adopt new technology and enjoy playing with it," says Pitts. "We just don't like interference. We have no problem with Current and Motorola.' Source: BROADDBAND Reports.com


    Europe approves powerline communications spec
    02/22/06, NETWORKWORLD -- Efforts to use electricity cables to transmit data took a step forward in Europe with the publication of an open specification for power line communications. ... Whether PLC will ever take off remains to be seen, however. Ham radio operators, particularly in the U.S., contend that broadband over power lines interferes with their radio signals. OPERA claimed in a white paper that its technology is "Ham radio friendly."

     

    Utility expands phone business, eyes cable TV service
    2/9/2006, TMC Net -- "J.R. Clark, a UTC economics professor who helped author a study last year of municipal broadband systems, said only one of the 200 communities analyzed met their projections and turned a profit from their cable TV or Internet systems. 'Your odds of success are much better going to Las Vegas than entering this volatile and rapidly changing business,' Dr. Clark said. 'The bottom line is that competitive broadband, cable and Internet service is not the same as running a monopoly electric, gas or water utility.'"

     

    BPL: Fine-Tuning or Spin-Doctoring?
    1/27/2006, EDN.com -- "'Looks like broadband-over-powerline promoters are getting frustrated with the 'interference' they're receiving from the amateur radio community. COMTek unveiled a release earlier this week claiming that 'it has voluntarily adjusted nearly 600 broadband over powerline (BPL) devices in Manassas, VA., and that there remains no'documented basis for further ham radio operator concerns.'"

     

     CenterPoint pulls back on broadband testing 
    1/25/2006, Houston Chronicle -- "Emily Mir Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Houston company, indicated this week that while the company is 'still evaluating' this technology and will not release its findings until next month, CenterPoint is unlikely to offer it to consumers as a means to surf the Web. . . CenterPoint's anticipated decision is 'very common' among power companies that have ventured into this market, according to Christy Rickard, an associate analyst at Kagan Research. . . But in some cases, this technology has had adverse effects on other forms of communication, including HAM radio. David Woolweaver, a Harlingen resident and National Association of Amateur Radio member, described the phenomenon as 'a major problem.'"  

     

    Powerline's other data channel
    1/5/2006, EDN Europe -- "In a recent discussion among EDN editors on the subject of broadband-over-powerline, one of the more cynical of us made the observation that 'the main thing that's changed about that over the years is the constantly increasing frequency at which it just fails to work.' That may be a little harsh, but has a ring of truth about it. It lead to my colleague Maury Wright's article 'Riding the sine wave' that you can read at (Reference 1), in which he reviews some of the recent efforts at delivering data over the same wiring that provides mains power in our homes and offices. You can also read some of Senior Technical Editor Brian Dipert's less-than-100%-positive experiences with in-home power-net data-routing hardware, in his 'Brians Brain' blog."

  • 2007

    Tasmanian BPL Trial Scrapped

    12/9/2007, DSL Reports -- "Tasmanian energy supplier Aurora Energy was boasting about the amazing powers of BPL back in March but rather quietly scrapped the $2 million trial at the end of last month. Much of the opposition to the trial came from the Radio and Electronics Association of Southern Tasmania which details that opposition here. However, Aurora claims that their opposition was irrelevant in the decision to scrap the project. CEO Peter Davis says that he stands by his original support of the trial but that changes in both the market and technology have changed since the project began, making it a less than viable system."

     

    Aurora defends dumping BPL trial
    12/6/2007, ABC News -- After having dropped it plans to deploy BPL in Tasmania, Aurora Energy is put on the defensive about the timing of its news release. The company's chairman John Hasker says they announced the decision to end the trial as soon as they became aware it was no longer viable.

     

    Broadband-over-power-lines battle goes to court
    10/23/2007 12:32 PM PDT, C/Net NewsBlog posted by Anne Broache -- A dispute that could affect the roll-out of broadband over power lines, which some hope will one day compete with cable and DSL services, went before a federal appeals court on Tuesday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard arguments from attorneys for the FCC and the ARRL, about FCC rules aimed at allowing BPL services to flourish.

     

    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Assessment of Demand Response Advanced Metering 2007
    September, 2007 -- This FERC report outlines the present state of Demand Response and Advanced Metering in the US. The level of and interest in electric demand response and advanced metering has increased significantly since August 2006.

     

    Life's Hard In The BPL Industry
    July 10, 2007, Broadband Reports - Broadband over powerline (BPL) company Ambient Communications has been struggling for several years and has yet to see a penny of net profit in a sector that seems eternally stuck in neutral.



    Ambient Hopes for Revenue Lightning
    July 8, 2007,  New York Post. --"BPL comes in handy in rural areas and in apartment buildings, where drilling through concrete can be a headache. But the speed of BPL is slower than by other means and utilities don't see the financial reward of investing in smart systems - there are other priorities." 

     

    Broadband over power lines revenue will skyrocket over next six years
    6/24/2007, The Frederick News-Post -- Global revenue from broadband over power lines will climb from $57.1 million last year to $4.95 billion in revenue in 2013, according to a study released by market research company, Telecom Trends International Inc.

     

    Government looks at BPL possibilities
    6/15/2007, Wireless Federation -- Ecuador’s government has signed agreements with two electricity utilities, Centrosur and Empresa Eléctrica Quito, to study the feasibility of offering broadband over power lines (BPL) services, reports BNamericas, quoting an official statement.

     

    GTS starting to roll out Broadband services
    6/11/2007, MyBroadband -- Goal Technology Solutions (GTS) has started to roll out its broadband over power lines (BPL) services in various locations around the country, but is struggling with municipalities dragging their feet. 



    Ham radio group says FCC turns deaf ear to BPL interference complaints 
    6/7/2007,  Eric Bangeman --  ARRL, the national association for amateur radio, has demanded that a New York broadband over powerline (BPL) pilot be shut down. Citing repeated interference with ham radio transmissions, ARRL general counsel Chris Imlay has requested that Ambient Corporation's Briarcliff Manor, NY, BPL testing be halted in a letter sent to the FCC's Spectrum Enforcement Division. 

     

    FCC Ignoring BPL Interference? - The ARRL seems to think so…
    6/7/2007, Remove The Labels -- The ARRL continues to press the FCC to shut down Ambient Corporation’s broadband over power line (BPL) pilot project in Briarcliff Manor, New York. The amateur radio group says that for years, the FCC has been ignoring their own guidelines concerning interference and that the project consistently operates outside acceptable interference parameters. 

     

    Many Utilities Starting to Develop AMI and Utility-of-the-Future Strategies
    5/29/2007 Will McNamara, Principal Consultant, KEMA, Inc.
    Part 1 of this two-part article examines the advanced metering infrastructure and smart grid strategies of 14 U.S. utilities. According to some projections, the North American AMI market will grow about 20% annually through 2010. Recently, KEMA gathered proprietary intelligence, which included informal surveys and in-depth research, on about 14 U.S. utilities developing or implementing AMI/Smart Grid pilots or projects. 

     

    DirecTV To Test Powerline Broadband
    5/14/2007, Broadband Reports -- New DirecTV owner Liberty Media has stated they'd like to get DirecTV back into the broadband business -- but there isn't a lot the company hasn't tried. One thing the company hasn't tried is broadband over powerlines (BPL), which DirecTV's CEO says they may begin testing soon.



    PPL Gets out of Broadband Business
    5/2/2007, The Morning Call -- PPL announced that is was divesting itself of its broadband business.  Its foray into broadband cost PPL $16M.

     

    Broadband Over Power Lines - Is It for Real?
    05/01/07 Tech News World - While broadband services have penetrated a large portion of the United States, many rural communities still have few options beyond dial-up. Forty-four percent of dial-up subscribers live in rural areas. Only 23 percent of rural residents subscribe to broadband services. This low broadband penetration is not due to lack of demand.

     

    BPL standard taking shape as doubts cloud its future
    3/15/2007, ARSTechnica.com -- "One of the biggest problems faced by BPL is skepticism on the part of power companies that investment in the technology will pay off. Do utilities want to become ISPs, forcing them to add staff and technical expertise that they currently lack? Another issue is interference in the radio spectrum. BPL's backers say that they've all but solved that problem, but many ham radio operators would disagree with that assessment." 

     

    Concord Considers BPL
    1/12/2007, Broadband Reports -- The electric utility in Concord, Massachusetts, is considering deployment of broadband over powerline (BPL) technology. The system is being provided by PowerGrid Communications of Meridian, Idaho, who have met with local amateur radio operators about the technology's interference potential. Area hams call the company "cordial and very cooperative." 

  • 2008

    Broadband Over Powerline Future Fading Away

    5/8/2008, Information Week -- "Dying slowly over the past few months, the hope of using utility powerlines for broadband transmission is receiving what appears to be a conclusive nail in its coffin as a Texas utility company this month said it will buy the broadband-over-powerline (BPL) business owned by Current Group. . . Pioneering BPL deployments in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and in Manassas, Va., have also faded. In Manassas -- once the pioneering test bed for the technology -- the city's supplier, ComTek, has been sold. Ham radio operators had waged a long and contentious battle, charging that BPL interfered with their signals. The Sault Ste. Marie provider, Amperion, has left the BPL business and reinvented itself as a provider of hybrid networks. In Australia, different utilities have either dropped BPL deployments altogether or are downsizing them to a point approaching demise, according to recent media reports."

     

     UTC Announces Smart Network Council
    June, 2008 -- UTC announced the creation of the Smart Networks Council. It is a special forum created for utility executives responsible for implementing Automatic Meter Reading, Advanced Metering Initiatives or Demand Response and Distribution Automation Applications. UTC provides public policy advocacy, technology training, spectrum engineering services, and networking for individuals at the member entities.

     

    Is it Lights Out for Broadband Over Powerline?
    5/8/2008, IT Business Edge -- "Broadband over powerline (BPL) always has been intriguing, despite the fact that even its staunchest proponents understand that the data rates it provides don’t hold a candle to other broadband conduits. . . For the most part, however, BPL has been a disappointment. The lowered cost of broadband and the ability of dial-up to satisfy very basic users is squeezing BPL from both directions. From the technical standpoint, sending sensitive signals along with all that electricity is the equivalent of debutantes carpooling with professional wrestlers. Ham radio operators have consistently opposed projects because of interference issues."


    The Feds as Cheerleaders
    5/6/2008, Andrew Seybold -- "The government's job is not to act as a cheerleader for a technology it thinks is "interesting" such as BPL or unlicensed white noise. Rather, it is to have its engineering staff review and test the technologies, weigh the pluses and minuses of each and then make recommendations that are followed by the Commission. Unfortunately, it appears those days are over and what we are left with is a politics and damn the consequences attitude!"

     

    BPL Powers Down
    5/5/2008, WiFi Net News -- "Part of the “BPL is dead” argument I make today stems from an appeals court decision in late April which affirms the FCC licensed/unlicensed approach, but which requires the agency to re-evaluate its information about interference. The FCC failed to disclose fully information from studies it relied on in setting rules, which violated public process. The ARRL wrote up the appeals decision on their site, and notes that a study in the UK that was fully released showed a much lower threshold would be needed. The agency’s need to redo some of its work, a potential shift of power to Democrats on the commission starting 20-Jan-2009, and the fact that other work shows the rules were established incorrectly could result in restrictions on BPL that make it even less likely to be rolled out."

     

    Should the Texas PUC let Oncor stop BPL Internet?
    5/5/2008,  Dallas Morning News -- "Brief synopsis: Current had planned to rent some of the space on its network to Oncor -- which would use it to save power and improve maintenance. The rest of the network, which will eventually cover 2 million area homes, was to be rented to consumers who wanted fast Internet. All that changed when Oncor agreed to buy out Current for $90 million and complete network construction on its own. Oncor will still use the network to improve its operations, but the company has no plans, at present, to sell extra space for consumer Internet.  The news lead several of my friends to argue that the Texas Public Utilities Commission should step in to stop the sale."

     

    Dallas BPL already dead?
    5/2/2008, Parks Associates -- "Although we were encouraged by the DirecTV/Current/Oncor experiment, we always believed that BPL is a niche technology and it won't be a significant competitor to cable, DSL, and fiber broadband. In the post, we mentioned that we forecasted 0.5% of U.S. broadband households will be using BPL technology by 2012 (and this forecast included the potential subscribers DirecTV might have signed up if the deal had gone through). The current count is only about 10,000 U.S. households. BPL will continue to face challenges and Oncor abandoning their original plan will definitely add salt to injury."



    Court tells FCC to revisit BPL rules
    5/2/2008, Mobile Radio Technology -- "In a ruling last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of the amateur-radio organization ARRL on two items regarding the FCC’s BPL rules, requiring the agency to disclose the entirety of its BPL field tests cited in the rules and to explain its reasoning for emission-level limits. . .  Although the ARRL noted that Ofcom—the United Kingdom’s regulatory agency—had conducted three studies indicating that 20 dB per decade would be an accurate measure, the FCC dismissed the studies, stating that it was not a “convincing argument” but offered no explanation for its position. . . The FCC can appeal the ruling to the full circuit court or to the Supreme Court. If it declines to appeal, the agency must revisit emission-level extrapolation issue, either providing reasoned justification for the 40 dB-per-decade factor or establish a new extrapolation factor. . . .  If the FCC were to use the 20 dB extrapolation factor advocated by ARRL, it likely would impact the economics to deploy the technology, <Dave> Sumner <ARRL> said. 'Presumably, the power would have to be turned down in these systems, and that might result in reduced reliability, reduced throughput and the need for more hardware to be installed—repeaters at closer intervals along the line,' Sumner said. 'So we anticipate that the industry is going to strongly resist a revised extrapolation factor.' Thus far, BPL deployments have not been a significant problem to ARRL, Sumner said. First, with less than 5000 commercial customers nationwide as of the middle of 2007, BPL is not available in many areas.  In addition, the most successful BPL technology provider—Current Communications, which has a large deployment in Texas—has worked with ARRL in an effort to ensure that its broadband rollouts do not interfere with amateur-radio operations, he said. 'We’ve had essentially no problems with Current’s deployments,' Sumner said."

     

    Broadband Over Power Line Gets a KO Punch
    5/2/2008, Gigacom -- "The great broadband hope, “Broadband over Power Line,” has turned out to be a big broadband nope. Not that I am surprised. I never believed its promise, even despite the incessant hype by none other than the FCC. A court’s decision has proven me right: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit pretty much concludes that the FCC was misguided and overenthusiastic about BPL, and that it ignored the interference data."

     

    Broadband Over Powerline (BPL) Stumbles
    5/2/2008, DSL Reports -- "While the FCC once called broadband over power lines (BPL) the "great broadband hope," the technology has been stuck in neutral, thanks largely to its tendency to interfere with local wireless transmissions, and the fact that many utilities don't want to get into the broadband business. Things have only gotten worse for the struggling sector the last two weeks. . .  This week finds the industry's flagship BPL deployment in Dallas, supported by DirecTV and frequently cited as an example of the technology's successes, being sold to the local utility. The network, through which DirecTV and Current Communications hoped to offer BPL service to 2 million residents, will now simply be used for smart-electrical grid monitoring. From the Dallas Morning News: DirecTV has used Current's network to sell broadband over power lines to customers in the first 64,000 homes to be wired for the service. The plan had been to expand the DirecTV service area – and increase the number of BPL retailers – as Current attached networking equipment to more power transformers and expanded the smart grid across the region. You can't say we didn't warn you. BPL is a niche solution with problems, not a third major competitive pipe."

     

    Appeals Court Wants Better Reasoning on BPL
    5/2/2008, Radio World -- "A federal appeals court has sided in part with ham radio operators who challenged FCC rules establishing the broadband over power lines (BPL) service, according to the American Radio Relay League. The decision sends the rules back to the commission to defend how it arrived at some of its conclusions and publicize its related studies. But the court didn’t overturn the BPL service rules, which remain in effect. The ARRL said the ruling is significant in that it could lead to changes in the rules and in the way some BPL companies operate. The FCC had no comment on the decision. At issue when the FCC instituted BPL service rules nearly two years ago was the question of whether BPL operation could interfere with amateur radio frequencies. The commission wanted to create BPL as a “third” broadband pipe into homes. We reported at the time the ARRL opposed the BPL service rules as created, citing interference concerns. The AARL <sic> later sued the agency, saying the rules were not enough to prevent harmful interference to ham frequencies."

     

    Shocking times for Aussie broadband over powerline
    3/5/2008, ZDNet.com.au -- It seemed like a good idea at the time, but Australian utilities' recent abandonment of broadband over powerline (BPL) technology has all but sealed the fate of a technology that was once hoped to bring high-speed data to every corner of Australia.
     

    CIA says hackers pulled plug on power grid
    1/23/2008, Network World -- "Criminals have been able to hack into computer systems via the Internet and cut power to several cities, a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency analyst said this week. Speaking at a conference of security professionals on Wednesday, CIA analyst Tom Donahue disclosed the recently declassified attacks while offering few specifics on what actually went wrong. "

  • 2009

    BPL Not Ready for Prime Time Smart Grid
    October 1, 2009, PowerGrid International - This article, written by the CEO of a major BPL/Smart Grid company, accurately describes some of the financial and interference aspects of BPL technology. Electric utility companies are looking for sound information relating to the nascent Smart Grid technology.  This issue of PowerGrid focuses on a number of aspects of the developing Smart Grid.  Scroll down to page 43 for the article on BPL. "BPL does not perform well in the overhead U.S. electrical distribution topology, and thus today a BPL signal cannot communicate over long distances or through a transformer without couplers and repeaters to boost the signal. This additional equipment increases overall deployment costs and eliminates cost savings associated with using the existing wires. . .  There are further problems in transmitting BPL signals over power lines, including interference issues caused and experienced by a BPL system. Overhead electrical distribution wires are unshielded from radio frequency (RF) interference, therefore, BPL signals traveling on medium-voltage overhead lines have the potential to interfere with shortwave radio operators. Local RF using unlicensed spectrum also can interfere with the BPL network signal, and because the spectrum is unlicensed, mitigation can be timely and costly."  The URL does not link directly to the article, but to the entire issue. See page 43 and 44.

     

    Smart Grid Projects Pick Up Speed
    The Institute, August 6, 2009 -- Making the electricity grid “smart” has become a priority in many countries, but a lack of standards will make this a difficult goal to achieve. That’s why IEEE recently launched the P2030 Standards initiative to develop smart grid standards and write guidelines for the power engineering, communications, and information technology areas on how such grids should operate.

     

    SPECIAL REPORT: THE SMART GRID
    IEEE Spectrum; July 22, 2009 -- Taking the latest in computing and communications technology to make the electrical system more interactive, efficient, and robust is not a new idea. What’s new is that suddenly more than 10 billion federal dollars are being poured into it. But all that money will be well spent only if regulators are as inventive and intelligent as transmission and distribution engineers have been.

     

    How Smart Can You and Your Local Electricity Grid Get?
    IEEE Spectrum; June 24, 2009 -- Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based distributor and producer of electricity, is in the midst of organizing an experimental project in Boulder, Colo., that it and its partner companies have dubbed SmartGridCity. Current Communications has deployed HomePlug in-premises BPL and one kilometer of Current's Access BPL for backhaul. Current Access BPL systems do not use the ham bands and the ARRL has had no interference reports involving Current Access BPL equipment to date.



    Is a technology Holy War brewing in the smart-grid space?
    June 3, 2009 -- Myriad technology approaches exist, each with compelling pros and cons. It's no secret that the smart-grid market is heating up, and several companies are positioning themselves to benefit from the billions in federal stimulus dollars that are expected to flow into the utility sector.

     

    FCC Invites New Thinking on BPL Technical Issue
    7/21/2009, CommLawBlog -- A court decision last year ordered the FCC to revisit certain technical aspects of its rules on Access Broadband-over-Power-Line (Access BPL), a technology that carries broadband services over electrical power lines. The FCC has now responded with a defense of its earlier decision, combined with a willingness to rethink one of the more controversial details.

     

    Did the FCC cook the books on broadband over power lines?
    5/14/2009, ars technica -- The American Radio Relay League (ARRL), which successfully sued the FCC over its go-ahead, has obtained and published a small pile of nonredacted versions of studies that the Commission claimed supported its pro-BPL position. The nonredacted documents, ARRL charges, offer a different assessment of the technology.

     

    New Docs Show FCC Glossed Over BPL Flaws
    5/13/2009, DSL Reports -- The relationship between the FCC and licensed ham operators had become a contentious one, due to BPL's interference potential and the FCC's rather over-enthusiastic promotion of the flawed technology. Hams have always alleged that the agency ignored interference data for the benefit of the BPL industry.

     

    Powerline Broadband Just Won't Die
    4/27/2009, DSL Reports -- Last fall, as it appeared that broadband over powerline (BPL) technology was going to die off completely, IBM announced a new partnership with a small outfit called International Broadband Electric Communications, (IBEC) aimed at exploring the use of BPL in rural markets. The announcement came just as two of BPL's highest profile deployments fizzled, and many BPL hardware vendors begin focusing their attention on the smart electrical grid instead of broadband delivery.

     

    Manassas Tries To Keep Dying BPL Network Alive
    4/16/2009, DSL Reports -- Manassas, Virginia was the first US city to see a real, non-trial launch of broadband over powerline (BPL) technology. However, BPL has floundered the last few years because of its inherent potential for interference with amateur and emergency radio, its irrelevance in the face of next-generation speeds, and the unavoidable fact that many utilities simply didn't want to be broadband providers.

     

    'Interfering' BT Vision attracts campaigner glares
    1/15/2009, The Register -- Shortwave radio users have been complaining for a while about interference generated by networking over mains wiring, (BPL interference) with British Telecom taking the majority of the flak, but until now the protestors have been complaining to Ofcom on the basis of illegal broadcasting interference. By demonstrating that retailers are selling kits that fail to meet EU standards for EMI emissions, the protestors could prevent their sale, and introduce the possibility of fines for those companies manufacturing or importing the kit.

     

    Why broadband PLT is bad for EMC
    January, 2009, The EMC Journal -- (pg. 25) Broadband internet communication is here to stay, but its method of delivery is still controversial. This paper looks at the technology of Power Line Telecommunications (PLT) through the lens of an EMC specialist, and attempts to explain why broadband through PLT is a dangerous and divisive issue.

  • 2010

    Independent Report Clears California Smart Meters, Faults Utility
    September 10, 2010 - On September 1, the Northern California electric utility PG&E posted a 414-page “Metering Assessment Report” of an independent study of the performance of its smart meters on its Web site. The report was in response to numerous customer complaints about perceived large increases in electric bills that correlated with the installation of smart meters at various locations around California. It concludes that the meters are accurate, but PG&E’s customer relations were flawed.
     

  • 2011

    Smart grid communications: BPL Resurfaces in Liverpool. Is it back from the dead?
    January 3, 2011 - It's been declared dead many times, but like a classic Beatles ditty you can't get out of your head, broadband over power line (BPL) is back for another whirl in Liverpool. The Liverpool Daily Post reports that about 1,200 homes will get smart meters that will pave the way for superfast broadband via electric lines.

     

    Broadband Over Power Line Trial in UK
    January 6, 2011 - After years and years of hype and promise from the broadband over powerline industry that the technology would revolutionize broadband delivery, the technology effectively died last year after consistent problems with interference and implementation. The technology is little more than a niche solution at this point, with most gear vendors turning their attention to smart utility monitoring technology instead. Still, you'll see the occasional trial still pop up now and again -- like in Liverpool.

     

    Smart Meters, Dumb Headlines
    January 12, 2011 - BPL claims have on occasion been driven by commercial opportunism (nothing like good news to pump up a flaccid share price or buff a stodgy corporate profile), incomprehension or indifference on the part of the mass media and the tendency of 'citizen journalists' to drink the digital koolade. The reality is - and will remain - that although broadband (however defined) can be delivered via the conventional electricity grid, such delivery is fraught with difficulty and is not commercially competitive once steps are taken to deal with radio interference and other problems. (I've noted that is also possible to deliver the net via carrier pigeon or bongo drum ... both mechanisms are technically feasible but, how very strange, have not supplanted wireless, fibre or conventional copper.

     

    Aarkstore Enterprise 4G And Wimax for the Smart Grid
    January 14, 2011 - Most importantly, the paper analyses a BPL deployment in Boulder, Colorado where the power utility deployed a BPL-based smart grid at a cost of $1,000 per household reached. The research finds that a more powerful, mobile, 4G, standards-based network could have been deployed at a cost of $440 per household reached.

     

    BPL Pollution to hit Cumbria
    June 7, 2011 - It appears that people in Cumbria will be subjected to pollution from a new Broadband over Power Line (BPL) system that could ruin their enjoyment of radio. A report on ISP Review says that a pilot using BPL will take place in the village of Shap in Cumbria. This pilot is being run alongside the installation of Smart Meters and there are concerns that polluting BPL may be deployed along with the rollout of Smart Meters in the rest of the UK.

     

    Grids get smart with BPL
    July 25, 2011 - The global transition to electricity smart grids is creating new business opportunities for broadband power line (BPL) communications vendors, driven by utilities' need for real-time, two-way communications networks in their electricity distribution networks.

     

    Can Broadband over Powerline find new life in India?
    Aug 24, 2011  - BPL was a disaster in the US. It never reached its technical potential and it sucked away hundreds of millions in venture funds from early stage investors who backed BPL startups. But India may be a different story, since BPL has the potential to bring not just smart grid capabilities, but also broadband for customers.

     

    Analysis: FCC Completes Access BPL rules that may cause problems in the future
    October 25, 2011 - The FCC has completed their Access BPL rules.  This opens a brand new way to deliver broadband services and may also open up a new way to wreck havoc on radio devices.

     

    FCC Finalizes Rules for Broadband from Wall Sockets
    October 25, 2011 - Broadband access from ordinary wall sockets may yet become a reality. The Federal Communications Commission today affirmed its rules for Broadband over Power Lines with minor modifications. In today’s Second Report and Order, the commission said the resulting cycle of comments did not “warrant any changes to the emissions standards or the extrapolation factor,” but they were making “several refinements” anyway.

     

    FCC Affirms BPL Rules, Makes Minor Refinements
    October 27, 2011 - Monday the FCC issued the Second Report and Order (FCC 11-160). After this long proceeding, lasting over 7 years, the commission said, "In this Second Order, we complete our action addressing the court's concerns and our proposals in the RFC/FNPRM. We find that the information submitted in response to the RFC/FNPRM does not warrant any changes to the emissions standards or the extrapolation factor. We are, however, making several refinements to our Access BPL rules." 

     

    FCC Releases Broadband over Power Line Rules
    October 27, 2011 - Paving the way for utility companies to one day deliver high-speed Internet service through power lines, the FCC released rules earlier this week governing the use of Broadband over Power Line (BPL) technology. While no major utility company has committed to investing in BPL technology, the FCC rules could make it easier for utilities to experiment with broadband offerings.

     

    FCC Clears Up Their Powerline Broadband Rules
    October 28, 2011 - Despite the fact that unshielded powerlines were simply never good conduits for broadband, the FCC desperately wanted BPL to succeed. In 2008 the FCC had their wrist slapped by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who ordered the FCC to correct omissions made in their original rules. Several years later, this week finds the FCC releasing their updated rules.

     

    FCC BPL Ruling Menaces Reception
    November 16, 2011 - A recent ruling by the FCC may bring Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) closer to reality. Last month the Commission issued the Second Report and Order (FCC 11-160). The  proceeding stretched over 7 years, ending with the FCC adopting the Access BPL rules, as reported in TV Technology.
     

    Smart meters blamed for Wi-Fi router jam
    November 21, 2011 - A Maine advocacy group says about 250 people have complained about electronic interference from smart meters and says the utility must do a better job informing consumers about the fix.
     

    Hams Not Happy With Latest BPL Changes
    November 28, 2011 - The commission released a Second Report and Order on BPL Monday. ARRL, a national association for hams, has been active on this issue. It noted that the R&O is in response to a court order that instructed the commission to revise its BPL rules, which ARRL had challenged earlier. The association believes BPL emissions “pollute” the radio spectrum, including bands used by amateur radio, and that BPL has failed as a method of delivering broadband connectivity.
     

    Huber+Suhner wins CHF 60 million broadband power line project in Malaysia
    November 29, 2011 - Realm Energy/JSR Sdn Bhd (RESB) awarded HUBER+SUHNER to design, supply, install, test and commission the fiber optic part of its Broadband Powerline (BPL) Project. The project intends to bring broadband internet connections to more than two million Malaysian households. The Malaysian BPL project is one of the largest of its kind in the world.