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Cincinnati BPL Internet Service Provider Pulls the Plug on its System

07/23/2014

A Cincinnati, Ohio, broadband-over-powerline (BPL) Internet service provider is throwing in the towel and yielding to more modern technology. Cincinnati Communications will pull the plug on its BPL system on August 1, according to a report on The Enquirer newspaper’s Cincinnati.com website.

“The failure of the Cincinnati system will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with BPL technology,” said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ. “It’s rather remarkable that they managed to keep it going this long.”

Thomas Balun of Broadband Ventures LLC, which operates Cincinnati Communications, told The Enquirer that the company essentially would be starting over from scratch with more up-to-date technology. “The technology to subscribers’ homes was really antiquated,” Balun told The Enquirer. “We tried to figure out how to convert subscribers, but we can’t do it. We have to shut the system down and start over.”

The Enquirer report said Cincinnati Communications customers had endured “on-again, off-again service” with the BPL system, with some service outages lasting for days.

Balun conceded that the technology “was painfully slow,” the Cincinnati.com report said, and the company plans to upgrade to an optical fiber system.

The Cincinnati system was never a significant source of interference to radio amateurs, Sumner said, because it used Current Technologies hardware. “The medium-voltage lines used low-band VHF frequencies,” he explained. “The drops to homes used HF, but with the ham bands notched.”

BPL is a general term that covers any technology that uses electric-utility distribution lines or on-premise power lines to conduct broadband signals for computer networking or utility smart-grid applications. Under Part 15 of the FCC rules, the use of power-company wiring to deliver Internet access or smart-grid communication to homes and businesses is called “access BPL.” Access BPL that operates between 1.7 and 80 MHz has special provisions in Part 15 of the FCC’s rules to control its interference potential, although the League contends that the present rules are insufficient to effectively control interference.

 

 



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