The internet has taken over every aspect of how we work, socialize and shop. High-speed Internet anywhere, anytime is what one expects for faster communication and exchange of files. Several technologies have emerged to meet the demand for greater bandwidth and faster connectivity to consumers. Once such technology is Broadband over power lines (BPL).
The technology of BPL allows relatively high-speed digital data transmission over electrical power distribution spanning longer distances. BPL also known as Internet over power line (IPL), power line communication (PLC)— brings Internet to homes and businesses using the pre-existing electricity cables.
The promising BPL proposition gained widespread adoption given its apparent ease of deployment and negligible environmental impact. The technology was lauded by national governments, the European Union (EU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Transmitting two signals down one line
Broadband lines have contributed for speedy internet access, without the need to install additional wireless devices. Broadband uses low-frequency electric signals to carry phone calls and higher-frequency signals to transmit internet data. An electronic filter separates the two kinds of signal, with the low frequencies directed to your telephone and the higher frequencies to internet modem.
The single piece of cable carries both phone calls and Internet data. While telephone responds to calls, the modem responds to data signals. With the simple plug-in of a special BPL modem and your broadband is up and running in no time.
The types of BPL: Access and In-house
This technology uses certain elements of the existing electrical power grid for delivery of broadband services. It uses BPL modems and couplers (to connect to a network) to take advantage of medium-voltage power lines in the power utility network. If you want superfast internet access and other broadband services to homes, Access BPL systems can be used.
In this system, the power lines used do not belong to the electricity provider. They are directly connected to the in-building wiring and use electrical sockets as access points. This is a great way of bringing internet access to any part of your home with the traditional telephone cable. You simply plug an ethernet adapter into the power outlets in the room and plug your computer into it. It’s particularly useful if you have a mansion with thick walls that obstruct signals.
BPL opens up an even more exciting possibility for the future. This system allows connecting multiple devices such as computers, printers and smart appliances to one another and to the Internet for a ‘Smart Home’ set-up. This would enable turning off home lights on and off from your hand-held device near any location. The meeting of technologies with BPL — high-speed data and electricity line takes remote control to an amazing new level!
BPL is a great way to distribute the network through your home that’s as convenient as wireless internet (Wi-Fi).
– It can send signals up to 200m or 650ft, further than a typical Wi-Fi router, which offers only 35m or 115ft.
– It offers data rates from 200Mbps to over 1 Gbps, comparably better than a typical Wi-Fi router.
Combining BPL and Wi-Fi
You can combine BPL and Wi-Fi in a hybrid setup—and that can work really well for larger homes or older buildings with Wi-Fi “blocked spots” (where walls or other obstacles interfere with wireless signals). Simply plug your in-house BPL adapter into a home power socket, to carry wired broadband signals to computers, smart home equipment, and other devices that cannot access Wi-Fi connectivity. You’re free to mix and match as you wish.
Advantages and disadvantages of broadband over power lines
– BPL technology has been prolific and widespread in most developed countries.
– Access BPL may be quicker, cheaper, and simpler to deploy in rural areas.
– In-house BPL is perfectly compatible with Wi-Fi and helps to overcome distance and reliability limitations in existing wireless networks.
– With signal interference and repeater issues, Access BPL failed to gain momentum in countries such as the US, UK and Australia.
– Only low and medium voltage power cables can be used for Access BPL.
– Signals need booster equipment to make them travel long distances.
In conclusion, this is a technology that has not found wide-spread adoption but is still in the race for making the internet available widely.