The IEEE wants to set technical standards for Broadband over Power Line Hardware. Power companies are starting to test and sell devices that send high-speed data over power lines.
The FCC has high hopes for the technology and has an open proceeding on it.
Some ham operators are concerned about interference to some of their frequencies if the commission authorizes these devices.
To add BPL capability, a computer-router combination and a coupler take the signal from an optical fiber cable as it enters a substation and imposes it on the electric current. The signal travels over the medium-voltage lines, with repeaters placed every 0.5 to 1 mile to keep the signal viable.
"By turning the local power grid into a broadband conduit, we create another option for universal access to the Internet," states Terrence Burns, Chair of the IEEE BPL Standards Working Group. "This technology offers a neat solution to the 'last-mile' quandary of how to bring information from long-distance fiber optic cables to individual computers without investing in costly infrastructure. Power companies face a number of issues in doing this, for example, how to assess the performance and safety of repeaters/routers, medium- and low-voltage coupling hardware, and other equipment before buying. Other issues include how best to put this equipment in place and how to keep the overall system operating well and prevent it from interfering with power delivery. The new standard will help them deal with these concerns."
When finished, the association's BPL standard, called IEEE P1675, will give electric utilities a comprehensive standard for installing the required hardware on distribution lines, both underground and overhead, which provide the infrastructure for BPL systems.
It also will include installation requirements for the protection of those who work on BPL equipment and to ensure such systems do not place the public at risk.
IEEE is targeting mid-2006 to complete the standard.
For more information on this standard and its working group, visit grouper.ieee.org/groups/bop.
IEEE Publishes Final Broadband-over-Power-Line Standard
The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules for BPL in 2004, setting off a firestorm of objection from ham radio operators.