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Broadband via Power Cables trials in Scotland 244

Wacko writes "Scottish Hydro-Electric have started a trial of Broadband internet access via power lines. Just plug the modem into any power point in your house, with no need for additional lines into the house, and reasonably priced too. Details are a bit scketchy right now but interesting to see how the trial goes."
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Broadband via Power Cables trials in Scotland

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  • Who's doing this? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sllort ( 442574 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:02AM (#4148572) Homepage Journal
    The contractor bringing this to homes in North America is Current Technologies [currenttechnologies.com]. They have a demo home set up with Pepco and will be doing customer trials this year.

    Competition == Good.

    • If this comes to pass, forget about listening to the radio for frequencies from 100 KHz to 30 MHz. But I seriously doubt it will come to pass in the U.S., the radiated interference is too high.

      Power lines simply aren't made for data, shoe-horning data into them isn't going to work very well. The solution for rural bandwidth is still wireless mesh networking.

      Bruce

  • by Mr Guy ( 547690 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:03AM (#4148579) Journal
    People on dial ups in rural America are watching and praying.
    • Of course, if you get rural enough, there's no power lines either.
    • One problem (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I always like to lick the live leads of the internet connection to make sure I have a good signal.
      Will this new fangled electrical internet scheme prevent me from doing that?
    • "People on dial ups in rural America are watching and praying."

      Seriously.

      I live in rural Canada and I *am* watching and praying.

      This is because people like me are on ultra long phone loops and can get 31.2 on a good day. Some can only get 21.6. There is not ADSL. Cable TV is not wired. A few wireless options are insanely expensive. Satellite only has modem by upstream and the lag is bad. There are NO plans for expansion of traditional broadband to my area. Telcos won't pull in a T1 and even if they did, the tree density is so high that 802.11b neighborhood sharing so to pay for it is out of the question and houses are 1+ km apart so cat5 is out too.

      This is worth geting excited about.

      • I live in rural Canada and I *am* watching and praying.

        I live in a rural subdivision just outside Ottawa, and I am praying too.

        You can get 2-way satellite here now, but it is really expensive ($150/mo. plus thousands to set it up) and the latency is bad. I had hope for the spead-spectrum wirless that is being offered here (http://www.storm.ca for example) but it is line of sight and I am at the extreme range of one of their transmitters and I can't get LoS.

        We can only hope this works out. I don't need 2Mb ADSL, but something in the order of a couple of hundred Kpbs would sure be nice.

    • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:38AM (#4148839) Journal
      People on dial ups in rural America are watching and praying.

      Apologies to all those folks in rural America, but they're still screwed. Actually, this technology would be much more difficult to implement in the United States and Canada than in Europe.

      The U.S. power grid typically delivers moderately high voltage to each little neighbourhood--a small handful of homes at most. At that point, there is a small transformer (a "pole pig"--no ethnic slur intended) for the last step down to 110 volts.

      European grids usually step down to 220 volts, and do it further from the homes. There are significantly fewer transformers per capita, as each transformer serves more homes.

      The problem is this. The high frequency data signal gets flattened out going through a transformer--those big coils act as a low pass filter that eats your data. You have to pick up the signal from the server before the high voltage side of the transformer and reintroduce it on the low voltage side (and do the same thing in the other direction for upstream signals).

      In Europe this is not an insurmountable problem: you just need to hop over a few transformers in a handful of central locations. In the U.S., you have to install some sensitive electronics on every pole pig--exposed to the elements in a lot of widely separated, awkward to service locations.

      Oh, and rural America has it even worse--some homes have their very own transformer, and would need their very own jumper for signals. Also, if there is a long enough length of power line back to the substation, the inductance of the power line will be enough to eat any high-bandwidth signal.

    • by Bfaber ( 11252 )
      My parents live in rural IL (61330 area code), and are using DirectWay [direcway.com] (DirectTV satellite internet ), with success.

      No, it doesn't have the ping time you guys like, but its extremely popular among rural farmers already.

      Byron
  • by skin_job ( 603644 ) <skin_job@nOSpAM.fuckmicrosoft.com> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:04AM (#4148588)
    I wonder how much more viable this is over existing implementations in the us. I remember waiting for over a year for cable because local fiber lines rendered DSL impossible for my apartment. To my dismay, once cable became available in Dallas, most apartment complexes had already been talked into restricting internet access to dial-up of DirectTV internet access.
  • I believe Norweb (or what was Norweb at that time) attempted to do much the same. Didn't their attempt fail badly due to some sort of interference from the current (not exactly sure)?
    • From what I remember of CNBC interviews with the startups that were trying this stuff years ago, apparently they had trouble segmenting the signal. Big chunks of the grid are electromagnetically coupled at any one time, so the difficulty was making the segments small enough to be able to provide meaningful bandwidth.

      IIRC, of course, it's been a while.
    • You're correct zen old mate :P

      The frequencies used induced harmonics in electric streetlamps which were all across the shortwave region of the spectrum. I can only assume that they're using a different frequency (lower bandwidth) or that they have a filtering plan for the public lighting systems.
    • Nor.Web did a field demo with a major SOUTHERN US utility and it worked great 'til the HV breached the isolation on their HV to LV bypass device and the device blew up. There were also strong allogations (which Nor.Web denied) that there were interference issues with their technology already operating in Europe. (The infamous broadcasting lamposts.) The reason they cited in their shutdown was that they couldn't make the business case work (esp in US) no matter how many times they did the math. Subsequently their IP was shopped around to a bunch of folks, but I can't remember if it was snapped up and incorporated into anyone else's technology.

      People are still trying though.. The aforementioned Current Technologies [currenttechnologies.com] and Amperion [amperion.com] are trying to develop a viable product for the US. The distribution transformer is still the killer. More information on the power line broadband space can be found at the United Power Line Council [utc.org].

      Oh, BTW.. There was a story on /. a few months back on Luke Stewart [wired.com] and Media Fusion [mediafusionllc.net]. Apparently, they have mended their fences and Stewart is back peddling [mediafusionllc.com] his mumbo-jumbo, too-hard-for-anyone-but-Luke-to-understand technology known as "Advanced Subcarrier Modulation [ASCM] (TM)."

      --z

  • Whoa. Never thought they'd actually start using that. Doesn't the 'filth' of badly-regulated appliances disturb the signal? I really really wonder how this will turn out, and... if it would be used worldwide?
  • If so it could be pretty amusing. Suck up a lot of bandwidth downloading porn and lose power to your house!

    Talk about bandwidth limitations!
  • Ddn't someone try this in Germany or England and discard the idea because all the transmissions could be received with some sort of antenna near the power lines?
    • by Mwongozi ( 176765 ) <slashthree&davidglover,org> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:12AM (#4148653) Homepage
      Yes, they tried this in England, and discovered that every single street light was acting as a giant transmitter, and worse, it was a little bit too close to the frequencies that ambulances used to talk to each other.

      The project was abandoned.

      • This is Just Vaporware

        Yeah this has been tried all over the place. --or more like promised all over the place. I have yet to see anyone who actually made this work with any reliability

        For kicks, I tried entering in a bunch of different postcodes, every one of them said it wasn't recognized - I doubt they ever will be either.

    • Ddn't someone try this in Germany or England and discard the idea because all the transmissions could be received with some sort of antenna near the power lines?

      Oh, ya, that was the Stazi. Everyone else pretty much decided to use encryption or just get over themselves.

    • Something similar was reported in Sci-Tech [cnn.com]in August 2001 and at newsfactor [newsfactor.com]in march 2001.
    • I don't see how that would be much of a disadvantage, unless you like to send your credit card number without ssl - and that has always been a bad idea. The party with the most motive and ability to monitor unencryptied communications is the Government, and they already can and do.
    • I don't know about Germany, but in the UK that would be the company where I currently work in one instance.

      It was under the brandname "Powerline", and yes, it failed and was abandoned. This was due to noise on the line more than anything else - a huge chunk of the electricity switching network in the UK, the National Grid, is *old* and electrically noisy. When power is switched it causes a spike on the circuit which then rather noisily settles down, trashing the data that was transmitted. Not to mention all the inductive properties of wires for collecting interference. What we found was that the technology was sound, and it did indeed work (there are still some of the schools we used for the trial using it), just a lot slower than was hoped. Too slow for viable commercial use it was felt.

      Basically, if you are a power company looking to get into data, and have a modern, low-noise, distribution network, then this may well be viable. Of course, for rural Scotland this will be a lot more viable than urban Manchester with fibre running everywhere, because you could charge more for it and still be cheaper than the competing technologies. Or alternatively have better response times than them - Quake via satellite broadband? ROTFLMAO. ;)

    • When Nortel and United Utilities announced plans to offer high-speed Internet access over electrical power lines [redherring.com] in 1998, it was hyped as "the Holy Grail of the electrical industry." But that project and a similar one [theregister.co.uk] undertaken by Siemens in Germany were canned, due to a change of market focus on ADSL products, plus complaints that the PowerLine technology could drown out other radio traffic and interfere with civil aviation and emergency service transmissions. The Brits also found that streetlamps interfered with the signal. The last I heard, [cnn.com] there were new launches planned for last year in Europe, and some of the early problems were being ironed out. It seems this technology would work better in densely-populated Europe than in the U.S.

    • This was tried by anther company Scottish Telecom (part of the Scottish Power group, and owners of Demon Internet - Sottish Telecom are now called 'Thus' following a 'Monday' style re-branding exercise, the initial literature for which amusingly misspelt 'companys' on the first page IIRC) when I was working for SOL (Scottish Telecom Internet Division). This was following on from identical work by the US company NORWEB.

      The speeds at the time were ~28 kbps. They (Scottish Telecom) trailed the service by giving the equipment ('modem' + Compaq PC) to schools to gain feedback - they let the school's keep the PC's afterwards, which was nice.

      They dropped the trail after they discovered the speed dropped dramatically when the grid was under strain...

      e.g.

      - at ~6:00pm when the street lights came on.
      - When kettles were boiled for Tea following the ending of TV soaps like Eastenders or Coronation Street (I kid you not)

      The most amusing story relates to how Ham radio operators discovered that lamp posts in the area were acting as broadcast antennas and broadcasting users packets over the neighborhood. ST denied this emphatically, though it was true (though it's not clear that it was actually possible to get any meaningful data out of the 'interference' that was being broadcast as no-one ever seriously suggested they had done this).

      • The Thus rebranding was in some ways rather good (ie it's a real word, rather than something made up and wanky like Avaya [avaya.com] or Accenture [accenture.com], and it's short and difficult to spell).

        Of course, their full name is 'letitbethus', which loses both of those qualities, and in either case, their name is only pronounceable in English and Greek, thereby limiting its usefulness in attacking European markets.

  • With all the transients, interference, noise, et cetera that are on power lines, this is going to be a big flop, mark my words. I've seen research on power-line data transport protocols before -- it's unreliable at best. They're better off going wireless, something long range. Perhaps stationary 802.11a with repeaters?
    • I have been told by many people that when you run network cable near Electric it would cause noise problems. So this to me now seems almost blasphemous.

      I'm not a Electrical Eng. but this sounds like the signal would be crap.

      Sean D.
    • With all the transients, interference, noise, et cetera that are on power lines, this is going to be a big flop, mark my words.

      Ever take a look at the PHY error counts on wireless? Hell on dialup for that matter? It's bad everywhere. That's why you use FEC techniques and trade data bandwidth for reliability.

    • I just lost a NIC to a power surge, I could only imagine what is going to happen now.

  • It's bad already with overloads in the phone lines due to lightning. Optical cables are better for that reason (unless I am mistaken)...
    • Re:Lightning? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:17AM (#4148694)
      the WHOLE POINT was to use existing infrastructure and not have to run all new cables.

      sure, if you can run new cables, go for opto.

      but who's going to pay for laying of fiber all over europe? if they can possibly get by with the existing wiring, why not try?

      • Actually, running fibler along powerlines is the simple thing, some power companies has even done it for their own and others long distance data connections.

        The cost rises exponentally when you have to run a cable from the powerstation to every single house - and this is where you can find intermediate solutions.
      • Something you may find interesting:

        It has been discovered that using fiber to strenthen overhead power lines instead of more traditional steel is cheaper and has in fact been done already.

        Because fiber is lighter than steel there is less sag on the power lines meaning the struts can be significantly further apart (which saves money). Additional value is gained because the fiber can be resold at some later date, and by using it in new power lines it means there is no additional digging.

        The only expense is terminating the fiber, which is a one off cost and easily written off.

        I think this is more viable because as other /.'ers have pointed out, there are just too many speed inhibiting issues with and no guarentee of decent QOS by trying to piggy back on existing infrastructure - meaning it's only suitable for light home use at best. Certainly claims to do this have been around for at least 4 years now and have yet to amount to anything beyond what can best be described as mediocre trials. :-(

      • but who's going to pay for laying of fiber all over europe? if they can possibly get by with the existing wiring, why not try?

        Actually, Hydro Electric (and also ScottishPower [scottishpower.com], our other power company) have already run big fibre bundles down all their major transmission lines. So they will presumably use fibre to quite near the consumer, and only run the 'last mile' or so over the power lines.

    • There's currently a big thing in the UK about local loop unbundeling. The local loop are the wires that run from the exchange to your house.

      It would appear that the plan is to use the local electric loop (run a few feet underground in the UK) and switch it on to conventional lines at the substation.

      I started to make some RS232 plugs that worked in a simila way about 10 or so years ago, you could get about 14k with home kit at the time.
  • My God... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Loki_1929 ( 550940 )
    It's real! [nextwish.org]

  • Limitations (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Beatbyte ( 163694 )
    It would be interesting to see the speed and distance limitations. Considering a fully equipped DSLAM is costing a half a mil or so, serving this might be a cheaper route.

    Anyone have an equipment manufacturer name or link?

    My ISP might be interested...

  • What a deal! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ddstreet ( 49825 )
    Man, I wish I lived there! Their speed comparisions [hydro.co.uk] implies the download speed is 2Mbps (about 4x a 512Kbps line)! And the pricing [hydro.co.uk] is great - either 15 or 25 pounds/month! That's about 25 or 40 USD/month! Sweet.
    • Re:What a deal! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jhan ( 542783 )

      Heh... My ADSL connection is a reliable 2.5Mbps, for about $35 a month (Sweden). Care to immigrate? OTOH, you might want to consider Japan instead. They've recently rolled out 14(!)Mbps ADSL for about $20(!) a month.

      Mmmmm.... Bandwidth.... Drool...

      • "Heh... My ADSL connection is a reliable 2.5Mbps, for about $35 a month (Sweden). Care to immigrate? OTOH, you might want to consider Japan instead. They've recently rolled out 14(!)Mbps ADSL for about $20(!) a month."

        Here's something that makes me cry. I live in rural Canada and can get 31.2 dialup on a good day. Normally it's 28.8 or 21.6.

        Here's the best part: There was a contingent of canadian rowers rowing across the atlantic ocean in small boats to set some sort of record and Bell Canada (a big telco here and a sponsor of the team) equipped them all with satphones or whatnotso they could get 128 kbit while on the ocean.

        Why do rowers in the middle of the atlantic get 128 kbit when I, sitting at home, get 28.8 from a WIRE?!?

    • Man, I wish I lived there! Their speed comparisions [hydro.co.uk] implies the download speed is 2Mbps (about 4x a 512Kbps line)! And the pricing [hydro.co.uk] is great - either 15 or 25 pounds/month! That's about 25 or 40 USD/month! Sweet.

      Actually with it being the Campbeltown area the USAF/NASA/insert-latest-conspiracy will be loving their highspeed links! (i.e. the runway at Machrihanish [google.com] and the stationing of US personnel there).

  • I plugged my modem into the wall, and all I got was this lousy dialtone!
  • Would there be a significant reduction in speed using this? I know LinkSys came out with some power cable networking; I think it went about 11 megabits/second.
  • by subspacemsg ( 593356 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:11AM (#4148644)
    This is going to give "lightning fast internet" a new meaning.
    • Also "connecting via sockets".

      (Hmmm... if the gas company offered internet connectivity too, could you connect via pipes?)

      Old jokes a-go-go, chums.

      rOD.
  • by Diabolical ( 2110 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:11AM (#4148648) Homepage
    Here in the Netherlands these kind of test are still running but haven't come up with anything yet. Too much problems as it seems. Similar tests in Germany came up zilch as well.

    One of the things is, as mentioned in another post, that there is way too much interference from badly constructed appliances and household electrical goofups like badly connected power outlets.

    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:21AM (#4148727)
      One of the things is, as mentioned in another post, that there is way too much interference from badly constructed appliances and household electrical goofups like badly connected power outlets.

      None of that is, IMHO, a showstopper.

      Contrary to the myths expounded by Hollywood and the RIAA, the lackluster adoption of broadband isn't the lack of "content" (the illogic of their arguments demonstrate this when, with the next breath, the proclaim massive losses due to copyright violated "content" being actively traded on the very same internet).

      Broadband/DSL is being actively sabataged by the baby bells in the US and quite possibly by similiar entities elsewhere in the world. These people own the last mile of copper, connecting that mostly unused glass network to your home. It is this monopoly that the FCC was supposed to regulate, but has chosen not to despite the law requiring them to, and it is this monopoly that must be broken for the internet, and broadband/DSL, to thrive.

      If the interference problems were a result of the electrical infrastructure (bad substations, bad transformers, crappy power lines, etc.) then we'd have a problem. But if it is a result of bad home wiring, noisy appliances, or what have you, then the problem is emminently solvable, and the approach still a very valid solution to the Last Mile Monopoly.

      Simply put, the data receiver could be placed adjascent to the home's power coupling, prior to the current entering the home (with all of its noise appliances and crappy wiring). The data could then be sent throughout the home on standard cat5 or cat7, or wireless, sans the interference everyone keeps worrying about.

      Granted, you lose the ability to use any old outlet as a data port, but that is a small price to pay for getting data without dealing with either the baby bell monopolies or the cable monopolies, and that is where the real value lies.

      Speaking as one who is about to lose their excellent Sprint 8Mbit down/1 Mbit up DSL service because of the local Ameritech Last Mile Monopoly and the FCC's willful negligence in enforcing the law, anything that puts those fucking assholes out of business, or even competes on a level playing field, is Good News(tm) regardless.
      • Broadband/DSL is being actively sabataged by the baby bells in the US and quite possibly by similiar entities elsewhere in the world. These people own the last mile of copper, connecting that mostly unused glass network to your home.

        This is exactly the issue. In the UK (which includes Scotland) BT [bt.com] (yes, the same people who thought they had a patent on hyperlinks) [slashdot.org] own the last mile. They have indeed been doing everything possible to sabotage DSL. Consequently, it's been extremely difficult for competing providers to deliver DSL services; this initiative by Hydro-Electric is essentially seeking to bypass BT.

        Interestingly, Hydro Electric mostly services the highlands and islands - which is to say, the most remote rural communities in Europe. If it works here it will work anywhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What about those people who don't have electricity? I mean, I feel really left out by all these schemes that are advertised as being "available to everybody". Honestly, I have a gas computer, and it's really annoying to be marginalised like this.
  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by T3kno ( 51315 )
    6 outlet power strip + 6 modems + 1 BSD box + 6 NIC's == DS3?
  • I wonder if this could be adapted for LAN usage here in the US. If so I would def want to look into it. Does anyone know what the max throughput is from one point in a house to another point in the same house?

    Nick Powers
  • I remember hearing about a similar trial in Germany (Netherlands maybe???), that was pulled because it generated RF interferance as the data travelled down the powerlines... something about the lines being unsheilded... Anyone remember what I'm blabbing about???
    • here [cnn.com]
      • by tzanger ( 1575 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:38AM (#4148846) Homepage

        The biggest problem is getting the signal through the pole pigs (can-type transformers on top of the hydro poles) -- they are big iron monstrosities that don't pass much past 1kHz or so due to their design.

        One method which can be used is to simply wire some high voltage capacitors across the primary and secondary of the transformer -- they'll conduct at high frequencies (you tune this) and voila -- your signal jumps the transformer.

        Of course, the problem with that is you're no longer isolated from the street-line voltages -- anywhere from about 6.9kV to 44kV, depending on who else is in your neighbourhood. The "right" way to do it is to have a line-powered conveter box at each pole pig which jumps the transformer optically, but that's expensive.

        I've always been a fan of power line transmission. There's one in particular I was always amused by (no link handy) -- they claimed that by using a maser they could modulate the magnetic field without altering the voltage and current. I wonder what they think of Maxwell.

        • The biggest problem is getting the signal through the pole pigs (can-type transformers on top of the hydro poles) -- they are big iron monstrosities that don't pass much past 1kHz or so due to their design.
          One method which can be used is to simply wire some high voltage capacitors across the primary and secondary of the transformer -- they'll conduct at high frequencies (you tune this) and voila -- your signal jumps the transformer.


          The fun bit is that whilst the output is something like 117-0-117 the input is likely to be be either a single phase to ground or 120 degree 3 phase.
          • The fun bit is that whilst the output is something like 117-0-117 the input is likely to be be either a single phase to ground or 120 degree 3 phase.

            Yes. Usually (at least around here) your pole pig takes a ground and a live and gives you a split-secondary with two 117VAC hots and a neutral. In most neighbourhoods here you only have one 6.3kV line running around (and the other two phases are found on the main streets where they eventually head back to the substation) so yes -- you essentially have three noisy segments and the network data on any individual segment is a jumble of two possible phasings ("left side" and "right side" 117-VAC-originating).

  • Downtime? (Score:3, Funny)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:15AM (#4148675) Journal
    So, I can just plug the reciever into my UPS and never have any internet downtime.

    Oh, wait...
  • The prices are reasonable, at £15/month + VAT, but that is subject to change at the end of the trial period (31 December 2003). The price appears to be this low due to a grant from the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and the Department of Trade and Industry.

    At the moment, availability for the trial is limited to Creiff and Campbelltown, Hopefully this will be extended (I live in Aberdeen - by no means Rural, but this would still be useful for me personally).

    There is a form provided for users to register their interest in the service... Perhaps if enough people register, this service will be rolled out on a wider scale... Here's hoping...
  • Traditional recipe for Haggis is threatened and scottish message boards must be humming. Details here [bbc.co.uk]

    Is it too little, too late?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    http://computertimes.asia1.com.sg/v20020501/updt01 .shtml
  • I'd love to see some more detailed technical information on this. It sounds like a great alternative to dialup in small, rural communities, where the only high speed alternative at the moment is the pricey satellite dish type.

    Speeds, how it works, how it manages to NOT fry your PC during power outages (does it work during power outages?), are all questions I'd love to know the answers to...
  • dangerous (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ubi_NL ( 313657 ) <.ln.leeedi. .ta. .siroj.> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:21AM (#4148725) Journal
    If been in a trial in NL, and it worked sorta OK
    until I plugged a dodgy TV into a near socket.
    Apparently the TV blew back a few volts down the line which in its turn took down the modem....
    Not a pleasant experience.
  • Doubtful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Captain_Frisk ( 248297 ) <captain_frisk@bo ... s.org minus poet> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:21AM (#4148731) Homepage
    Power lines are noisy, and not just a little bit. Then you've got the whole shielding issue (mentioned in other posts). X10 made a home communication thing that used powerlines as the means of transmission (had to build a reciever for one in college) and the amount of crap that comes through on those lines is disgusting.

    Look at the reviews of home networking / print sharing equipment over powerlines... the speed is pretty poor. Heres a review over at firingsquad [gamers.com] While those speeds may be fine for internet sharing in one household, imagine trying to put together an entire town?

    Maybe they've got something else going on though. Best of luck to them.
  • that I can read /. on my UPS now?
  • by Kristoffor ( 562485 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:23AM (#4148739)
    They tried a similar thing in my hometown of Hydroshock, WA. However the combined water/power delivery proved to often be lethal to customers. Also tests concerning combined natural gas and medicinal oxygen delivery were discontinued due to "less than ideal preliminary results".
  • Packet routing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by papasui ( 567265 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:25AM (#4148751) Homepage
    I work in the broadband industry for one of the larger cable companies and the question I have with this technology is how they break up the users so that they don't overload a particular box. In the cable industry we have CMTS boxes that handle a group of people from a particular node. From my understanding the way powerlines are layed out is completely different. Just a thought.
  • Sounds like a powerful idea with a lot of potential. Could transform the online world. Hope these reports are well grounded.
    • Actually to be correct, that Hertz.
    • by IIH ( 33751 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:56AM (#4148972)
      <i>Sounds like a powerful idea with a lot of potential. Could transform the online world. Hope these reports are well grounded.</i><P>

      It has to be in Scotland, of course, the only nation that can talk directly to modems, Ach, eeeeiiiieee....
      • It has to be in Scotland, of course, the only nation that can talk directly to modems, Ach, eeeeiiiieee....


        Can't be the only nation... Xena wasn't Scottish. Maybe she's the exception, I admit I don't often hear many people making battle cries.
    • you Freq! my capacitence for puns has reached overload. I suggest you resist future puns, because I have the potential to ground you.

      Time for my meditation..
      Ohmmm...Ohmmmm..Ohm
  • The wrong direction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobertNotBob ( 597987 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @10:35AM (#4148814)
    I think that they are going the wrong direction in looking for new bleeding-edge technology. Nobody is better placed to use the current tried-and-true technology than the power companies.

    Here in Virginia, USA, the power company "Dominion Power" is closely tied to "Dominion Communications". The issue is simple. If you want to run copper (or fiber) between two locations, you need continuous right-of-way . You need legal access to a swath of land between both locations that has no point where you do not have the ability to dig a trench. There are only 3 groups that have this. Governments (along the roads), Railroads (like the way Qwest did it) and power companies. (unless I dimm-wittedly forgot somebody)

    It seems silly to me for an organization that HAS continuous righ-of-ways to bother with troubled technologies when they can actually lay their own fiber, and charge silly amounts of money to other companies to lease their left over strands.

    • It seems silly to me for an organization that HAS continuous righ-of-ways to bother with troubled technologies when they can actually lay their own fiber, and charge silly amounts of money to other companies to lease their left over strands

      Because laying new cable is expensive. Especially if you have no ductwork in place. Hence lots of interest in new technologies to enable old cable to be used for new things.
    • Water/Sewage Company, Cable company, Gas Company

      Look it's simple not everybody wants broadband yet. All it would take is for the media companies to offer VOD/MOD of the existing library for a reasonable amount. Then everybody would want broadband. Just give em a cheap set top box that instead of plugging into cable plugs into the net.

      Personally I'm thinking the US is screwed and the new modern world is in the orient.
  • Too bad the rates are metered. But at least you can watch the spinny thing on the side of your house while you're waiting for Snatch to come down.
  • like this [ls-la.net]? *grin*

  • Notwithstanding the monopoly they might be able to get among really rural customers, they're going to have a tough time gaining much of a toe-hold in the Scottish market.

    They intended to charge £25 for the basic residential service, Telewest already offer a very good cable broadband service: £25 for 512kb, £35 for 1MB (although, to be eligible for those prices you need to be a subscriber to their at least their basic tv and telephone line packages which costs £11 a month, pretty good value in it's own right).

    Two quite nice features of Hydro's service are the fact that they don't charge a connection fee and their minimum service term is only ONE MONTH!! That's as opposed to the minimum one year all of the cable and ADSL providers insist upon.

  • by Segador ( 65111 )
    In Spain this technology are taking off. The most important power corporation here (Endesa) are doing the "Massive Test" since february in Zaragoza, (Medium/Big city with about 600,000 hab) with about 2000 test users. Before, more simple experiences taked place in Barcelona and Sevilla.
    They use two technologies one with 2/3 Mb/sec (ASCOM) and another with 6/11 Mb/sec (DS2). I personaly used one of this stations and worked pretty well. The big problem at first was that "Modems" were huge (I saw it, huge an heavy), but last time a talked with one of the technicians said they can reduce it now to a DSL modem size.
    Seems to work well if they take that big and expensive test.
    More info at PLC-Endesa [plcendesa.com]
    (Beware of the Flash!!)
  • Oh Billy's little web server is getting /.'ed

  • Instead of sending the data over the power conductor as current/voltage changes, why not run hollow conductors and take advantage of the waveguide effect to shoot broadband RF down the center of the conductor? Hollow conductors are lighter, and since we're talking about AC here, they'd have the same 60Hz current-carrying capacity thanks to the skin effect. They'd also offer little or no radiated RF, so there'd be no interference to other radio services.

    Getting the AC without disturbing the data would be easy - hook to the outside of the conductor. Getting at the data would be equally easy - poke a tiny hole in the conductor and insert a small resonant antenna, just like you'd do with regular waveguide.

On a clear disk you can seek forever.

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