11 Comments

Summary:

BPL is finally dead. The City of Manassas, Virginia which spent $1.6 million building and running nations’ biggest BPL network has pulled the plug on the service that had about 500 residential and 46 businesses customers. It cost the city $100,000 a month to maintain.

During the early part of this decade, lobbyists, former FCC chairmen Michael Powell and Kevin Martin and a sundry bunch of random carpetbaggers were all very vocal and enthusiastic in pushing a technology called broadband over powerline. Never mind the fact that BPL didn’t quite work and very quickly was overtaken by other more sane and feasible technologies. Today, it seems BPL has finally been put to rest.

The city of Manassas, Va., which spent $1.6 million building a BPL network, today  decided to pull the plug on the network. About 500 residential and 46 business customers accessed the network that was costing $100,000 a month to maintain. They paid $24.95 a month. At one point, it was viewed as the most successful BPL network. Well, that isn’t really saying much.

By Om Malik

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  1. As well, power lines carrying broadband become uncontrollable radiators of eletromagnetic noise that interferes with radio services (e.g. shortwave reception). This technology was ill-conceived. Let’s hope we see the end of it soon.

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  2. Isn’t that about the same economics Verizon’s FIOS had when it first started out?

    In any event, I don’t no what economies of scale where envisioned for Broadband over Powerline. What I do know is that the cable and phone company broadband duopoly in force in most U.S. markets isn’t anything to cheer about. Any technology that came bring competition should be looked at, even if the cost is that of upgrading a couple of miles of U.S. Interstate tarmac.

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    1. Well said

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  3. At one time there was a lot of hype about BPL, but looking at it as an engineer it seemed absurd to me.

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  4. BPL was never about broadband to customers. It was always about using the electrical power lines to monitor the network itself. The fact that it could be used to carry broadband to customers was a sideshow.

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  5. nice reference to carpet baggers – was always confused where Israel was in relation to the Mason – Dixon line

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  6. Broadband over powerline on the local power grid has always been a pretty bad idea. In-home networking over powerline (HomePlug, others) works very well. Some providers in the US like AT&T and many in Europe still use powerline networking for in-home broadband distribution.

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  7. So Manassas uses archaic, first-generation BPL technology, cannot maintain or run it correctly, has cost overruns because of internal budget lapses, and your pompous ego declares BPL dead worldwide?

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  8. John Valenti Friday, April 9, 2010

    BPL dead? I’ll believe it when I see it gone for a few years. It seems like it just keeps coming back.

    It has only been a year since IBM announced a BPL expansion in four states, including Michigan. http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/26728.wss

    Here is a snip from a letter to customers in Michigan (150 homes hooked up): ” At this point, until we find solutions to the system infrastructure issues and are completely satisfied with the equipment and service, we will not proceed with further system build out.” http://www.teammidwest.com/bpl.aspx

    As a small-time WISP, it drives me crazy to see the millions spent on this technology that doesn’t work well, compared to even unlicensed wireless that does work, and costs a tenth as much.

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  9. In Indonesia this technology work well, We use DS2 chipset and only implement in the apartment not to the powergrid.

    As the backbone, fiber optic is installed. To distribute the bandwidth, BPL is installed.

    BPL is last mile solution not a total solution for internet.

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  10. The old 40MHz BPL technology has been dead for a while. The European standard, OPERA, replaced it but isn’t widely deployed in North America. It may come back for rural areas where no other wire is going to be deployed any time soon.

    But powerline is alive and well from the device to 1 km down the road. The IEEE P1901 standard does 450 mbps right now using routers you can buy for under $200, and (though those routers won’t quite do it). The standard is good for 1500m (the “last mile”).

    For outdoors there is E-line http://corridor.biz which has the same capacity as fibre – but only a range of 1000m or so.

    This uninformed nonsense about “interference” is old news. P1901 does adaptive spectrum allocation now, and there is not much analog radio left to interfere with anyway. The last mile is powerline because Verizon FiOS is now *dead*… had no business case. I’ll connect every AC outlet using P1901 and get e

    So suck it up HAM radio losers, your objection is overruled.

    “BPL was never about broadband to customers. It was always about using the electrical power lines to monitor the network itself. The fact that it could be used to carry broadband to customers was a sideshow.” A sideshow that pays for the smart grid. Which the regulators in Colorado, Maryland and other places have ruled will NOT be paid for by electricity ratepayers, meaning, it has to be paid for by over-provisioning and renting excess capacity to the ISPs.

    “So Manassas uses archaic, first-generation BPL technology, cannot maintain or run it correctly, has cost overruns because of internal budget lapses, and your pompous ego declares BPL dead worldwide?” Yes. They are stupid. Buy stock in every company ditching fibre and coax and cat3 and ethernet on the last mile and doing powerline. Like oh ah Verizon, which just did a deal with eMeter along these lines.

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