Like roaches, broadband over powerline doesn’t go away

Catherine Chalmers

By now even I am tired of pointing out that broadband over power lines as a viable broadband option just doesn’t work. Many, including Google, have spent millions of dollars to make a go of this technology with microscopic success, but that doesn’t stop others from trying. My friend Karl Bode in October said that 2008 was the year BPL died. Apparently not. Now there is news that International Broadband Electric Communications, a startup working to sign up electric cooperatives in rural U.S. areas where there are no broadband options.

The technology involves sending data on the same wires that provide electricity. Every half a mile or so, a device clamped to the line perpetuates the signal…The key innovation introduced in the past few years, Blair said, is the ability to remotely control the devices fixed to power lines. That way it can be told to switch frequency when it meets interference.

IBEC has signed up IBM, which is going to get $9.6 million to provide and install the BPL equipment on a network that would reach 340,000 homes in Alabama, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. The venture’s promoter and CEO, Scott Lee, says the cost of the network would be as much as $70 million, an amount that they have received as $70 million in low-interest loans from the Department of Agriculture. I gotta be honest — this is going to be money down the drain.

This gets big smiles from that portion of my extended family formerly working in the world of Anaconda. There were a few clients over the years who wasted significant chunks of money in R&D dedicated to this futility. BPL should be laid to rest.

And has anyone heard any stellar results advertised from DirecTV’s short-distance experiments with PL-LANS down in Texas?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.