Powerline Broadband Hits 400Mbps

    November 15, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The FCC isn’t standing in the way of the local utility company rolling out broadband service over powerlines; state governments and the lobbying by competitors have obstructed this.

Powerline Broadband Hits 400Mbps
Powerline Broadband Hits 400Mbps

Ham radio operators have opposed broadband over powerlines (BPL) for a few years, as they cite interference from BPL with their hobby. Compared to the deep-pocketed cable and telecom industries, the hams are a small ripple in a multi-billion dollar pond.

Rather than celebrating the advances made in BPL, most recently demonstrated by the firm DS2, those who could benefit from the service will have to watch from the sidelines as the impact of lobbying against state governments has frozen deployment of the service.

An Ars Technica story on DS2’s latest demonstration of its BPL chipset that BPL can hit speeds of 400Mbps. Once other factors have been applied, their chipset can support hardware delivering 200Mbps, double that of 100-BaseT.

This useful commodity could be delivering true broadband service not only to underserved rural markets, but urban areas where rewiring a skyscraper for fiber would be a monumental expense. Big buildings and bucolic farmhouses have something in common: existing electrical wiring.

Since this would be a municipal operation, prices would be far less for service than existing competitors who won’t close the last mile to customers to provide service in the first place. That has the telecom industry lobbying against municipal BPL in several states, successfully in many cases.

It’s not just the telecoms who have reason to fear BPL finally fulfilling years of promise. Cable television can be delivered to a peering point and pushed over BPL; it’s just ones and zeroes like other data, but again, at a potentially much lower price than the local cable monopoly charges.

Interference with FCC-approved ham radios has been the major point of contention. The well-intentioned delays caused by the hams have allowed cable and telcos time to head off promising BPL initiatives long before they can be considered.

People shouldn’t put up with broadband service that underperforms alternatives, especially when considering just how much they pay for it. BPL needs a solid standard, which the IEEE has started to explore; that standard needs to consider how to protect ham radio frequencies.

Compared to the political problems and the money the entrenched interests can throw at politicians, we hope such a standard emerges quickly.

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