Broadband over Powerlines (BPL) destined to fail?


Broadband Reports’ latest editorial, Broadband Fool’s Gold makes a spirited case for the failure of broadband over powerlines.

bq. Broadband over power-lines (BPL) has been hailed as the “great broadband hope” by FCC commissioner Powell, who believes it will usher in a new age of competition. Others lean on world-wide trial failures as evidence the technology is doomed-for-obsolescence; during its run bringing plenty of trouble (and interference) to areas contemplating the option.

This is a highly technical article, written by someone who knows a thing or two about how the whole thing works, and has a nice grasp of the real world problems.

bq. The medium of BPL, the powerline cable, unlike other broadband mediums such as copper twisted pair, fiber, and coaxial cable, is inherently unsuited for carrying the frequencies BPL uses. Power lines, twisted pair, and coaxial cable all act like natural low pass filters, meaning higher frequencies are attenuated more than lower frequencies when attempting to transmit them through the medium.

Ergo, if you are so inclined, please read this piece.


Michael A. Collins

While “RF Engineer” has a clear grasp on the realities and complexities of the engineering aspects of BPL he chooses to link them to the AARL prognostication of a sci-fi ìDoomsdayî scenario where HAM operators save the world. Iím telling you that if we have such a catastrophe that we need HAM operators to transmit signals for civil defense, most of us wonít care because we will be dead! Of course, adjustments need to be made to insure that BPL adheres to the FCC rules but, every large project undertaken in the United States must comply with and fit into some sort of optimal environmental impact. In most cases, public notice must be given and ample time to inquire and react to any proposed action is made. Whether the environment is on earth or in the RF spectrum, adjustments will be made to make BPL work.

Why? Pure and simple, the market will drive the need for BPL, nothing else. The FCC will make policy and guide the development of BPL so as to arrange for it to have its place as an alternative competitive architecture for the convergence of communications and computer technology. This is because; the future of our economy requires that we make the next quantum leap in the fundamental way we do things. Broadband is the way we will be linked together into one great thinking and working network of people poised to accomplish the great tasks already before us in this century, not via HAM radio!

ìRF Engineerî surely has the narrow view of many erstwhile scientists and engineers who say ìyou canít do thatî. Remember, it started withÖÖ.Columbus! What would have happened if some other engineer watched the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk and said ìthey only flew a few feet, how are we going to get anywhere?î

Lately, I witnessed an engineer from a power company at a demonstration. He commented on the poor quality of ìLIVE VIDEOî being transmitted via internet on BPL power lines only and he said that the broadcast was ìchoppyî and ìjerkyî. The demonstration reminded me of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, and he thought it was not promising.

The true power of the new millennium will be when someone looks at a fist full of wires and antennas of every kind and finds a way to intelligently use them all in concert to deliver power, knowledge, information, entertainment, energy, work and dreams.

BPL can be one of these wires!

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