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Communications Technology

Gigabit Transfer Rates Over Power Lines? 299

nomrniceguy writes "Penn State engineers, Pouyan Amirshahi and Mohsen Kavehrad, estimated in a research paper released Wednesday that their system could deliver data at close to one gigabit per second over medium-voltage electrical lines in ideal conditions, with speeds of hundreds of megabits per second available to home users. Their system would uses repeaters placed every one kilometer, (0.62 miles) and requires power lines to have been modified to reduce interference with the data signals. The engineers said their estimates were based on computer models, and that the data speeds available in a real-world version would depend on how many repeaters a power company used."
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Gigabit Transfer Rates Over Power Lines?

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  • Proof of concept? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BobPaul ( 710574 ) * on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:03PM (#11284284) Journal
    When they have a real world proof of concept, then I'll care...
    • It's all well and good until your streaming copy of Blondes, Brunettes, and My Head (and your 'Me' time) get interrupted by an unlucky squirrel.
      • Re:Proof of concept? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Wordsmith ( 183749 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:37PM (#11284497) Homepage
        If they cut through the power line, what do you expect to power the computer, broadband modem-type-device and router anyway?
      • Power reliability (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 07, 2005 @01:14AM (#11285025)
        ...get interrupted by an unlucky squirrel.

        There's a sicknening reality to this. I used to bitch about having mediocre power from Omaha Public Power District (OPPD). They were pretty slow getting to the problem and I had encounters where they'd get there, only to sit around for three hours waiting for a "safety foreman" to show before they could restore power. In retrospect, I was just impatient like most power customers.

        Then I moved to MidAmerican Energy territory. Oh my god. Serious, total suck time. Treynor Iowa (east of Omaha) has gone down at least a half dozen times this year for, um, squirrels, bunnies, sunny days, a cloud, etc. They joke about outlawing rodents because apparently their appearance causes half the county to suddenly not have power. My little town lost power three times this fall - for hours at a time - for nothing anyone could ever figure out. MidAmerican doesn't tell usually (you have to find a lineman to share the secrets, apparently). Someone told me that Warren Buffet (fat cat second richest guy in the world or something that lives in Omaha who tries to convince people he's a nice little guy, but if you knew him and his "family" you'd know better) and his company, which own Midamerican Energy, have been doing the Gorden Gecko on their maintenance. You know the Wall Street Movie where the guy slaughters the company to sell it off in pieces. Since the linemen say the same thing (one truck on call to cover two counties on weekends), I kind of wonder.

        The funniest one was this last September. I was working in my shed and needed more light. (I live on a farm a couple miles down the road from my little town). I grabbed my dual-500 watt halogen and plugged it in. On... OFF! Crap. Thought I popped the breaker. Reset it. Nope. Whole damn panel was down. Went to the pole outside my shed and reset. Nothing. Went to the main pole that feeds my outbuildings. Reset. Nothing.

        Turns out my plugging in a light TOOK AN ENTIRE COUNTY DOWN! We were down throughout Monday night football. Didn't get up until 10:30. What did MidAmerican Energy say? Nothing. They don't even call you back when you select the callback option. So apparently using 1000 watts is enough to shut an entire county down. Holy freaking cow.

        I've asked one of their engineers why their power is, um, so, um, not reliable. His answer? "You live in the country. What did you expect?"

        I pray my Internet never, ever depends upon these complete fools.
        • Wow. You might want to invest in a generator. Seriously if the power is that bad get one. I live in NYC and the power almost never goes out except the big blackout. Well luckly at my shop I have a generator and in an hour I had the fridge, A/C, computer and the TV with game cube back up. They might set you back 5-8 bills for a decent 5kw model but it provides enough power for the essentials.
        • Re:Power reliability (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Detritus ( 11846 )
          I'd start filing some complaints with your state's public utility commission. They have the responsibility to monitor service quality and can bitch slap the power company if they aren't meeting their obligations to their customers. That's assuming that they haven't been coopted by the companies that they regulate, a real problem in some states.
        • Parent post qualifies as an excellent example of when to post anonymously.
    • BPL is not new (Score:5, Informative)

      by JPriest ( 547211 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:37PM (#11284496) Homepage
      PBL is not new, and neither are the problems [dslreports.com] with it. The problem using BPL in the real world is that:
      A) It needs to be frequently repeated in the real world.
      B) Sending data over unshielded high voltage lines is messy.
      C) It uses very low frequencies [slashdot.org] where even the slightest signal leaks can interfere with radio's hundreds and thousands of miles away.

      Most BPL trials in the US have been a disastaster. It is a "marketing technology"

      • Re:BPL is not new (Score:5, Informative)

        by JPriest ( 547211 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:59PM (#11284618) Homepage
        Above High Voltage should read "Medium Voltage", but they are also currently not shielded wire. And I believe current BPL deployments put in a repeater every 300 feet (rather than 3000). The power companies still have to trunk fiber most of the distance, and since the power is stepped down from 7,200 to 240 volts at the transformer, they have to by pass all the transformers with CT Coupler so the data will survive. Add in the maintenance costs of transmitting between 1 to 80 MHz (over POWER LINES!) and you can pretty much figure the tech will be more expensive and reach less rural areas than DSL or Cable. Small leaks in BPL systems would create signal noise on low frequency and emergency channels all over the world, not just in the US.
        • Re:BPL is not new (Score:4, Informative)

          by kd5ujz ( 640580 ) <william@nOsPAM.ram-gear.com> on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:45AM (#11284872)
          There is a company in California,Corridor Systems, that is developing systems at 2.4 and 5.3GHz for BPL. It has 250MHz of bandwidth, and Shows VERY little interference.

          They also tested the system for from outside interference sources, by using a 100W SSB/CW rig at 7,21, and 28MHz at a distance of 20 feet from the BPL system.

          Their system is interesting, and I am reading up on it some more.
          Corridor Systems [corridor.biz]
          • There is a company in California,Corridor Systems, that is developing systems at 2.4 and 5.3GHz for BPL. It has 250MHz of bandwidth, and Shows VERY little interference.

            What? Somebody on /. is using the word 'bandwidth' in its original and correct meaning? Unpossible!

            It's the end of the world I say! CAT6Es and dogs living together!

    • Re:Proof of concept? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      requires power lines to have been modified to reduce interference with the data signals

      Exactly. Modified cables is code for radiofrequency shielded cables. In systems analysis, this is called a "miracle" e.g. "along comes a magical shielded cable that gets rid of the RF and stops the power line from being one big freakin antenna."

      I work with transmission utilities. Outside of shielding in this magical sense, BPL won't work because BPL makes the transmission facility a huge antenna, contaminating the RF a
    • Plenty of Dark Fiber (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Simonetta ( 207550 )
      Who needs this data transmission over power lines? No one in North America!
      There are millions of meters of 'dark fiber' in the ground already. This is the ultra high bandwidth fiber optic cable that was put in place quietly by the utilities during the boom years of the 1990s. It was all this unused fiber-optic capacity that gave rise to all the talk about video-on-demand and other high bandwidth predictions at the time.
      Maybe somewhere, someday, somebody could make use of this technology. But for the
      • by Vancorps ( 746090 ) on Friday January 07, 2005 @02:01AM (#11285242)
        You completely miss the point, the problem isn't the backbone of America, its the last mile. Big deal there is a conduit with enough dark fiber to serve an OC768 when its 75 miles from my house.

        Come up with a better way to get to the house and maintain the speed of fiber while holding on to the reliability and simplicitity of copper.

      • There are millions of meters of 'dark fiber' in the ground already. This is the ultra high bandwidth fiber optic cable that was put in place quietly by the utilities during the boom years of the 1990s. It was all this unused fiber-optic capacity that gave rise to all the talk about video-on-demand and other high bandwidth predictions at the time.

        And does it reach a little farmhouse 5 miles outside of Ely, Minnesota? Nope, didn't think so.

        Almost everyplace where you want broadband has power, but th

  • Any idea about what kind of modulation they are planning ? QAM ?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But does it run Linux?
  • when? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Heem ( 448667 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:05PM (#11284296) Homepage Journal
    uhuh. And this will likely be available only in the largest metro areas first, then 5 years later in the suburbs of said metro area.. so I'm looking at a good 15 years till this gets out to the woods where I live. Oh well, I guess I should just be happy that I have cable modem available.
    • Re:when? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by albn ( 835144 )
      From the article, I do not see the cost effectivness of boradband over power lines.

      Also, would bells start suing for unfair competiton?
      • Cost effectiveness (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I do not see the cost effectivness of broadband over power lines.

        It is not there; neither in rural or metropolitan markets. I work for a broadband company that is a subsidiary of a large power utility. Our nickname for BPL is "BTBW" (broadband over twisted barbed wire). The point being, you can put a signal across most anything -- as long as you do not care about speed nor interference! Your power lines are already carrying low-speed data in many cases for in-line transmission management. The problem with
      • Also, would bells start suing for unfair competiton?
        I can just imagine it...

        [Judge, to Bells]: "Hello, Pot. I'd like you to meet a friend of mine, Kettle."
    • I first heard a story like this out of Research Tringle Park with Carolina Power and Light in like -- 1993 or something absurd. Gigabit ethernet over powerlines.

      The phone company also told me someting about "IFiddle" -- I guess it's IFDL -- probably fiber.
  • Just curious. When is this broadband service over power lines supposed to be available to the public? I keep hearing and reading about this technology, but I haven't seen it completed and deployed yet.
    • Re:When? (Score:3, Informative)

      by p0rnking ( 255997 )
      I believe that Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario) rolled out Highspeed over Powerlines sometime last year, except they set up wireless access points on the poles.
      http://slashdot.org/articles/04/02/05/1521245.shtm l [slashdot.org]
    • Re:When? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <(imipak) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:21PM (#11284389) Homepage Journal
      They deployed it in London, England, a few years back. They shut it down a day or so later, because RF interference was being blasted out of every streetlight in the city.


      No other implementation has done as well, so far. Last I heard, many radio hams were actively working against broadband-over-powerlines, because it would be lethal to the frequencies they use.


      Besides which, given the sheer number of grid failures (one this week, in fact) due to cascading power station shutdowns after a single cable gets damaged, I'm not sure I'd trust the power companies with handling large amounts of data.


      That's not to say I think data shouldn't be sent over the grid. I think that it would be entirely possible to use such a mechanism to allow the grid to proactively route power the same way the Internet can proactively route packets. Use data over the grid to carry routing information and the states of lines, switches, etc.


      You could then avoid catastrophic grid collapses, because problems could then be treated locally and immediately, isolating the failure, rather than allowing it to propogate through the system.


      THAT would be a good, viable, practical use for this technology. Carrying P2P data, which then gets blasted over the landscape to everyone, whether they want it or not, is not.

      • True, they ought to be fixing the problem at hand, rather than adding more to the antiquated system.

        Has anything really been done to prevent another blackout like the one back in '03?
        • by jd ( 1658 )
          Oh, yes. The next major one won't be like the one in '03. It'll likely be much worse.
    • In Cincinnati, OH, [current.net] at least. They started trials last March, and are slowly moving it into new neighborhoods.
  • what is the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hdd ( 772289 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:06PM (#11284303)
    by the time they finish all the testing and modifying the existing power line, gigabit wifi will be readily available.
    • by WolfWithoutAClause ( 162946 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:25PM (#11284412) Homepage
      Actually, given the negligable shielding on power lines- their scheme would radiate like crazy and pretty much *would* be gigabit wifi :-)
      • Their scheme called for modifications to shield the lines. I know, I know it's a crime but if you won't RTFA at least read the story summary!

        Seriously though, modifying the lines assures that this won't be a last mile solution. The reason for the last mile problem is that there aren't enough last mile customers to make line modifications a viable choice.
    • It will probably make more sense for developing countries who currently do not have a cable network and will probably have a wifi a good 10-12 years after developed world. Surely more areas there will have power lines than cable/fibre.
  • by Tanmi-Daiow ( 802793 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:07PM (#11284305) Journal
    To rig up all the shielding and the repeaters every kilometer. Sounds really expensive
    • Power lines are ugly enough without even more crap hanging off them.
    • It doesn't really seem to solve rural broadband roll-out problems either. Repeaters every few miles only goes so far, so this may still be constrained by the same population density issues as DSL and cable. I'd think that rolling out WiMax would be easier and cheaper, assuming that it lives up to claims and can be mass produced affordably.
      • At the current rate, 802.11n networks could grow faster than WiMax and be cheaper in a shorter amount of time. Plus 802.11n networks will have the benefit of being backwards compatible to 802.11b/g.

        WiMax is well on its way to being too little too late.
  • by ZSpade ( 812879 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:09PM (#11284319) Homepage
    The engineers said their estimates were based on computer models, and that the data speeds available in a real-world version would depend on how many repeaters a power company used.

    Even if this system can be as good as these Engineers seem to think, it never will be, as the power company will only place repeaters at locations that can cover the most area, leave people on the outskirts with minimum service at the same price, just as current broadband companies do.

    I do however doubt that we'll see this any time soon, as the article stated they would also have to alter/replace many existing lines in order to implement it. One of the key reasons this was ever considered in the first place was that it could use lines that already existed.
  • by Clueless Moron ( 548336 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:10PM (#11284321)
    Let me guess; the modification is to glue a fibre-optic cable onto it.
    • That was sort of my thought.. If they have to go through the trouble of physically working along the entire path, then why not just bring a new line along that path and forget the whole thing?
      • Because that won't make the company paid to do R&D any money of course! Why would they want to use existing technology that works perfectly well when they can get paid to make something new which won't work as well??? Kids these days! ;)
    • The ABB-installed high voltage line in Thailand actually had fibre running through a conductor when it was installed in the early 90s. It's the safest place, inside a metal cable. If the electricity industry had really been forward thinking, they might now be in a position to eat the telco's lunches. But too many industries thought the Internet would be a passing geek fad.
  • It costs too much. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IO ERROR ( 128968 ) * <error@ioerr[ ]us ['or.' in gap]> on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:10PM (#11284328) Homepage Journal
    The big problem with this is the cost is going to be prohibitive. The power company is going to have to go place repeaters on, and upgrade or replace, much of their existing infrastructure to make this work. This means that where it does become available, it will be very expensive.

    It could possibly serve some extremely remote areas where there simply are no other options, though still someone has to pay for it, and I expect even a DS3 would be cheaper.

  • Was not the basic problem of data transmission over power lines that every street lamp or a household appliance had a potential of broadcasting the transmited data in a pretty strong radio signal?
    • Re:interference? (Score:3, Informative)

      by BobPaul ( 710574 ) *
      No. BPL sends a radio signal not over the transmission wire, but inside the electro magnetic field surrounding a high voltage line, similar to how a light bounces inside of a FiberOptic Cable.

      The problem is that some of this radio signal can leak out. I assume the problem would mostly be at the "Telephone Poles" that hold up the the line, as those electrical transformers they have up there could break up the nice cylindrical EMF, but I really don't know what causes the signal to leak out.

      But you are right
      • Free clues!! (Score:5, Informative)

        by rcw-home ( 122017 ) on Friday January 07, 2005 @01:55AM (#11285216)
        BPL sends a radio signal not over the transmission wire, but inside the electro magnetic field surrounding a high voltage line, similar to how a light bounces inside of a FiberOptic Cable.

        Clue: All signals are waves. (Fourier)

        Clue #2: All electrical signals are electromagnetic waves. (Ampere)

        Clue #3: Electromagnetic waves are not contained in fields, they are the fields and the fact that that energy has formed a field means that it is no longer in the wire. (Faraday)

        Clue #4: To keep these waves from forming fields of radiation, we can place an opposing (balanced) wave near it, twisting it occasionally (twisted pair), or we can place it in a faraday cage (coax).

        Clue #5: Neither of these methods are used with power lines.

        How much interference is released appears to be very debatable.

        Clue #6: How much interference is released can be calculated, or observed through experimentation.

        Clue #7: "Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." (Feynman)

  • likely story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by binarybum ( 468664 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:12PM (#11284338) Homepage
    so what I'm reading here is that if this were actually implemented ITRW, it would be a massively expensive project that would ultimately give end users bandwith that might be keen competition for AOLs 56k dialup service - of course in the tradition of networking sales lingo this would be advertised as "gigabit powerline connection speed"

    - "that's not a fuse, that's my firewall!"

  • by mike5904 ( 831108 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:12PM (#11284339)
    Instead of spending all the money to rig up all the power lines to support this technology, and potentially causing substantial problems with interference to radio communication (particularly amateur), why not just spend the money on a stronger fiber infrastructure, which presumably can support a great deal more bandwidth than this, and doesn't have the problems with causing or recieving such interference. Why not keep our data and power networks separate, and optimize both for their specific purpose?
    • The attraction is that the power lines already exist. How many communications companies really want to lay shiny and expensive new fiber to extremely rural areas where the population density is 0.1 people per square mile?
    • by quarkscat ( 697644 ) on Friday January 07, 2005 @09:26AM (#11286632)
      It would seem that just about every regulated
      monopoly wants to get into broadband internet
      access. In NYC, FTTP (Fiber To The Premis) is
      being run to older buildings through their
      sewer pipes (kindo seems appropriate for the
      p0rn, though). The parent has the right idea.

      A public utility (power company) that has right-
      of-way access darn near everywhere would be
      better served to use that same access for hanging
      fiber cable, instead of the foolish waste of
      money to "teach an elephant to tap-dance".
      Unshielded HV power cables are one of the least
      suitable transmission modes for broadband data
      transfer.
  • Also... (Score:5, Funny)

    by revery ( 456516 ) <charles@c[ ].net ['ac2' in gap]> on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:16PM (#11284359) Homepage
    Penn State engineers, Pouyan Amirshahi and Mohsen Kavehrad, estimated in a research paper released Wednesday that their system could deliver data at close to one gigabit per second over medium-voltage electrical lines in ideal conditions

    Though Amirshahi did mention that in order to provide anything faster then modem speeds to actual home users would require lowering the mean temperature of the earth to near absolute zero.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:19PM (#11284374)
    I'm pretty skeptical that this is practical but to be fair there's not yet information available to judge.

    Their work was presented yesterday at the IEEE 2005 Consumer Communications and Networking Conference [ieee-ccnc.org], session N5. If nothing else, the paper will be available when the conference proceedings are published.
  • Maybe not now... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rasafras ( 637995 ) <tamas@[ ].jhu.edu ['pha' in gap]> on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:20PM (#11284381) Homepage
    ...but one can only hope that as we gradually update our (america's) power infrastructure, things like this will be added. However, one wonders how many regional power outages we will need before we do this... but until we do begin a massive overhaul of the grid, something like this will only be an added benefit of such an overhaul.
    • ...but one can only hope that as we gradually update our (america's) power infrastructure, things like this will be added. However, one wonders how many regional power outages we will need before we do this... but until we do begin a massive overhaul of the grid, something like this will only be an added benefit of such an overhaul.

      Why bother? If you're upgrading the cable anyway, why not just run some fiber along side? You'll get better performance without radio-crushing interference.

  • by Stevyn ( 691306 )
    Repeaters every .62 miles and modifying the power lines seems way too expensive. What is needed is a cheap way of providing broadband to people in remote areas.
  • BPL is a bad idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ashpool7 ( 18172 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:25PM (#11284416) Homepage Journal
    I'd like my sine wave nice and clean, thank you. I'd also like less EM in the air.

    http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/
  • Previous boradband-over-powerline issues were snubbed because of interference with radio communications.

    Is this a new technique that helps solve that problem?

    On the other hand the technique perhaps could be useful in the home to eliminate needs for separate network runs - current ethernet over power is kind of slow (around 802.11b speeds, I think - or a bit slower).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:33PM (#11284475)
    As a person employed in this industry I've done a bit of research on this topic. Basically one of the major challeges next to powerline interference is the cost of putting a bypass on the transformers. The signal being sent tends to be blocked by the coils.

    There have been a number of solutions implemented such as using a bypass for the signal or Wireless to send the signal across the coils but they tend to be expensive. If you have a large number of transformers and have to retrofit each of them with a bypass then you could end up with a huge cost. Especially in places like Canada where we tend to have less customers per transformer than a place like Europe.

    If a cheap solution can be devised though the benefits of such a solution could be huge. Having automated meter reading and providing internet service to customers can be a boon in cost savings and additional revenue streams (but of course retrofiting the meters also costs alot as some of the cheapest solutions I've seen on the market cost 1000 dollars per meter).

    I hope some innovative person comes up with a solution to this problem someday in a cost effective manner. The coverage that a power company has for a customer base easily rivals that of the telecom industry and with more choice comes cheaper ISP rates due to the added competition.
  • ENOUGH ABOUT RFI!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shaitand ( 626655 )
    If you guys won't RTFA fine, but at least read the summary. This scheme includes modifications of the lines to eliminate the interference problems.

    Now debate the costs of replacing the lines, debate the speed, debate whether it's ethical to send nude shots of your gf over the same lines the power Grandma's toaster. But for the love of god quite repeating the same damn statement about RFI again and again!
    • If you guys won't RTFA fine, but at least read the summary. This scheme includes modifications of the lines to eliminate the interference problems.

      How about you read the fucking article. It clearly says that the lines are modified to eliminate interference to the data signal, not to outside receivers. As an electrical engineer, I can assure you that this idiotic idea will radiate noise like crazy over a wide band of frequencies.

      You've probably seen those little cylindrical doodads on cables for game c

  • by tallbill ( 819601 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:43PM (#11284523)
    This system would shoot AM radio in the head.
    It would destroy any chance of using Ham radio near it.
    It would be a disaster.

    I know that you can hook up an AM radio transmitter to a rail road track and broadcast the whole lenght of the thing. This is very illegal because it bleeds on any one else using the same frequencies.

    Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should. We have a clear case of people trying to create something new just because they can. They don't seem to care if they tinkle on any other form of RF communication.

    Coax or Fiber makes much more sense. But because power companies are run by very rich and powerful people, they will try to get on the bandwagon of providing bandwidth to the home.

    If we are going to use RF frequencies in the open air, without the benifit of shielding then we should persue P2P wireless and a bittorrent type of system. Each person would have a node and the node would both transmit and recieve. People would know where you are based upon location, and then the data would be funneled to you with low-power transmitters that would work P2P.

    there would be no need for a central hub. There might also be no way for any utility to charge you for this.

    That is exactly why this kind of a system doesn't get built.

    And at a neighboor hood you could have it all funnel into a local broadband internet for a bunch of houses. The antennas would be directional and beam directly between each other.

    Let's all hope that this idea of using the unshielded powerlines to transmit data is shot down by the FCC.
  • Trial in Australia (Score:5, Informative)

    by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:43PM (#11284527) Homepage
    There's already a trial in Australia for IP over powerlines at 200Mb/s. Article at http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/index.php?id=1826952 087&fp=2&fpid=1
  • If you're going to place gigabit repeaters on power lines, why not go wireless in Ka-band and just power through the rain? You certainly have enough power.
  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Thursday January 06, 2005 @11:44PM (#11284534) Homepage
    This would defintely be more expensive in the long run compared to fiber. Also there are too many unknowns. Close to one gigabit per second? How close? What about the "ideal" conditions? Are we talking about weather conditions, wire conditions, ??? Requires that power lines be modified? I'm sure the electric companies are just itching for a reason to replace all of those lines.

    Fiber is already here. It's faster, immune to all interference, and constantly getting cheaper. Wait, did I mention that fiber's faster?

    -Nick
  • We've been reading these power line data transmission stories for how long now? And how many are up and running?

    Lets not post any more until we have a part number, price and delivery date.

    Wireless power -- that would be interesting.
  • Their system would uses repeaters placed every one kilometer

    How the hell do they plan to power repeaters every 1km? They'll have to build a whole set of power lines just to.. oh wait.
  • by cats-paw ( 34890 ) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:06AM (#11284655) Homepage
    Isn't the real value of the power companies the right-of-way they possess for all of these power lines ?

    Why would they install repeaters every 1 km ? I just can't believe that it would be that much cheaper to do that instead of just running fiber next to the power lines instead.

    Then you'll get > 1GBs without even breathing hard, you'll only need a repeater about every 20km or so, and there will not be any RFI/EMI problems.

    Power lines make _terrible_ communication channels.

  • This may not be the same thing...data rates in excess of 1 Gigabit require bandwidth in excess of 2 GigaHertz. The BPL that is causing radio users (such as hams [arrl.org] and public safety and other users [qrpis.org]) such fits uses the spectrum from roughly 2 to 70 MHz. That's 68MHz wide and can carry roughly 38 Megabits per power line.

    If the power company solution used a frequency range that was entirely contained within the multi-GHz band, for example, there would be no interference in the critical "high frequency" 3-30Mhz
    • If the power company solution used a frequency range that was entirely contained within the multi-GHz band, for example, there would be no interference in the critical "high frequency" 3-30Mhz spectrum that has special properties of world-wide propagation due to the ionosphere.

      So let's not rush to judgement on all network technologies that could be deployed on power lines...those that use microwave or UHF frequencies might not have the same interference problems.


      I admit it's likely not to have the same p
  • by Nehi the Ganchark ( 818676 ) on Friday January 07, 2005 @12:10AM (#11284680) Homepage
    Nicolai Tesla demonstrated electrical power could be sent wirelessly [pbs.org], so why bother with all the equipment? Hell, just piggyback broadband on wireless power transmission! No wires, no repeaters every km, no grid to break down -- just one huge global RF field for porn and p2p for all! I want to instantaneously download everything into my iMac from a bolt of lightning from the sky... yeah, now THAT'S the internet I want...

    Too bad we'd all have to walk around with tinfoil caps.
  • Do you know what people would do with 100s of megabits per second? Even 10s of megabits per second! MPAA and RIAA, hold on to your lawyers, and watch those movies and songs fly!!!
  • My system could deliver data at close to one gigabit per second over barbed wire in ideal conditions, with speeds of hundreds of megabits per second available to home users. My system requires barbed wire to have been modified to reduce interference with the data signals.
  • ... with the 60 cycle hum that already comes through my speakers, if we add in lots of digital information too, I won't need to download the latest Aphex Twin album from BitTorrent, I can just listen to the bizarre noises that come out of my speakers because my neighbor is downloading pr0n.
  • Implementing this is impractical. No one wants to re-fit the current system... wait. No one wants to pay for the current system to be re-fitted. The cable plant from the phone company can't handle that kind of voltage, and splicing repeaters into those cables? Forget about it. It took the phone company 5 years to start removing bridge tap and load coils for the latest 2-wire and 4-wire high speed services.

    As much as the power utilities might want to gain more revenue, they don't want to spend billio
  • When Nicolas Tesla claimed that electricity can be had by poking a rod into the ground "anywhere" in the world, he was right. Thomas Edison pooh-poohed the idea as unworkable. Nevertheless, Westinghouse wasted their corporate dollars on Nicolas's invention rights to no avail.

    But never did Nicolas (nor Thomas) realized that massive Tesla generators would caused repoduction disruption amongst biological entities as well as actual constipation (and who knows what other side effects, because it was never put
  • It's called Fiber To The Home. In the long run, it's the only thing that's good enough. Everything else is stalling. So enough talk about broadband over powerlines, DSL 2, wireless broadband and other crap. Start laying fiber to that last mile so we can all have decent broadband. AND MAKE IT SYMMETRICAL YOU GREEDY BASTARDS! Where is a government when you need one...I wonder if all the money spent in Iraq would've been enough to hook up all the U.S population with fiber. Food for thought
  • by Lars T. ( 470328 ) <Lars@Traeger.googlemail@com> on Friday January 07, 2005 @04:21AM (#11285745) Journal
    for high voltage over Ethernet.
  • " requires power lines to have been modified to reduce interference with the data signals."

    Am I supposed to read that as meaning hundreds of thousands of miles of cable have to have gadgets put on every pole to make this work?

    Right, I can see the power companies jumping to do this...

    (And yes, I know they're interested in becoming ISPs, but I doubt this expense will help...)

  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Friday January 07, 2005 @06:46AM (#11286084) Journal
    It's not the technology....

    It's politics.

    The government through an act in congress mandates that ALL homes have phone and electricity lines pulled to them no matter (just about) where they are.

    There is no requirement for either cable or fiber. As long as this situation remains the same, I can pretty much bet that anybody that can't get cable will NEVER get broadband! The little copper wire for phone, big electric wire and satelite is all the options they will ever have.

    Unless a national fiber inititive is done through congress where the same requiements for electricity and phone are applied to network fiber cable, a large part of the U.S. will probably be bandwidth starved.

    There is of course the hope of some exotic wireless technology..maybe
  • by Nonillion ( 266505 ) on Friday January 07, 2005 @11:08AM (#11287310)
    Here is some food for thought on BPL:

    1. BPL signals will pollute ANY chunk of spectrum it uses. This is already evident in the 2-80 MHz bands that it's currently being tested in. The same thing would happen even if they shifted it to work in the 2-5 GHz band, the interference issue would still exist.

    2. BPL CAN be interfered with, transmissions from any RF source be it CB, HAM or Public service can disrupt BPL service. How irate would you get if your BPL service was constantly disrupted by my LEGAL transmissions.

    3. Placing RF coupling capacitors at the transformer to allow BPL signals into your home. NO THANKS. Now your otherwise "clean" AC power is now going to be filled with all kinds of other noise as well, arcing insulators / transformers, your neighbors arc welder etc come to mind. And let's not forget about lightening strikes and large static discharges.

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