Barons discovers BPL


Barron’s Bill Alpert is one of my favorite scribes: funny, articulate and succinct. In this week’s issue he is hyping up Broadband over Power Line, based on one analyst experience in two locations. Sanford C. Bernstein’s Tom Wolzien thinks this is the next big threat to the cable and phone companies and has cut his rating on the cable guys. Oh sure it might be a threat some day, but not anytime soon, at-least not in Tom’s working life. Like WiMAX, BPL is an over-hyped technology where potential exceeds realistic expectations. Of course, as Alpert points out, “a trial deployment in England failed when it turned every lamppost into a broadcast antenna. Proponents of BPL and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission are working out spectrum-sparing solutions to the interference problem. Still, those unshielded cables mean that BPL signals will weaken with distance, just like the phone companies’ digital subscriber lines.”



The British trial occurred 6 years ago and is really irrelevant at this point.

Since then BPL speed has been increased 100X and low cost repeaters to extend range and transformer bypasses have been developed.

The major remaining challenge is managing interference with hams and other speectrum users. If you’re a BPL believer you’ll say it can be done – if you’re a naysayer you’ll say it’s impossible.

The naysayers originally had a laundry list to work from “it’ll never work”, “too slow”, “limited range”, “too expensive”. Interference is now their last card.


I’ve seen three field trials shut down in the past two months where the company trialing the technology decided to avoid any broader deployments….

Add that to a long list of global failures, and I think this technology has a long road to climb.

I think Powell wants it to succeed so badly because a dreamy third pipe to the home would mask the fact he’s effectively been crushing all competition in the sector by selling his soul to the bells.

If BPL succeeds and creates competition to fill in the gaps created by his idiotic policies, nobody will notice he has absolutely no spine.

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