The future of BPL (Broadband over Power Lines)
BPL, or Broadband over Power Lines, is in its infancy. Several utility companies are rolling BPL out to their customers for field trials, and “predict that 15 to 20% of its customer base will eventually be on BPL”. 1 There are several obstacles surrounding BPL and must be overcome to help with success of BPL. One obstacle is the issue of interference with radio transmissions. Another obstacle is the adoption of new technologies, which could greatly hinder the progress of BPL. While BPL is still in its infancy, the future of BPL could be very bright. If the issues are overcome, BPL could become a very strong contender in the Internet services arena.
The amateur radio operators consider BPL to be quite harmful to the current radio spectrum. With several installations in the United Kingdom there has been some evidence that BPL does interfere with radio transmissions. “Earlier PLC systems such as the one developed by Nor.Web in the UK emitted a high level of radio noise in the 1-30 MHz bandwidth. This resulted in conflicts with the British government's Radio Agency, when it disrupted radio signals from the BBC World Service. The Department of Trade and Industry (UK) subsequently made it impossible to use PLC in the UK and contributed to the withdrawal of Nor.Web from the business”. 2 In the future there could be technology that is available to help with this interference. According to the Internet Society (ISOC), “Learning from the failures of Nor.Web approach, second generation PLC technologies are using techniques like OFDM, which substantially reduce the potential of interference to radio users, thanks to a decrease in transmitted power spectral density. The OFDM modulation spreads the signal over a very wide bandwidth, thus reducing the amount on power injected at a single frequency.” 2
New Technologies for the Future...