An Overview of Broadband Over Power Lines

by Aeyne Schriber on April 13, 2011 in Broadband Over Power Lines

If you have never heard of broadband over power lines it is probably because it represents the next generation of high speed broadband Internet connectivity. Broadband over power lines is also known as BPL and is currently available in only a handful of locations.

BPL offers the possibility to achieve high speed Internet service through an electrical outlet on the wall of your home.  This is different than Internet access through coaxial cable because it utilizes the standard electrical outlets that you use to power your lamps, PC, appliances, and much more.

How BPL Works

Broadband over power lines works with your current power sources to deliver high speed broadband connectivity to a home.  There are also a number of businesses that are catching on to the concept and deploying the technology in commercial buildings.  BPL is a versatile connection because it can also be used as a source for establishing telephone and television services.

Broadband over power lines use a combination of three different technologies to establish connectivity which include radio waves, wireless networking, and a modem.  When these technologies are used together data can be transmitted over power lines at rates of up to 200 Mbps (megabits per second). There are basically two types of BPL which include in-house which connects a network of machines within a building and access BPL which transmits high speed Internet over power lines and provides power companies with the capability to observe their power systems electronically.

BPL is implemented by modifying existing power grids with specially designed equipment. This means that the creators of broadband over power lines partner with power companies and Internet Service Providers to provide high speed Internet access to any location that is equipped with electricity.

Once the connection is established a BPL modem is used to extract the data from the electrical current.  A BPL modem is approximately the size of a power adapter and plugs into an electrical wall outlet to complete the connection. The end result is being able to simply plug your PC into any electrical wall outlet in your home or business and gain immediate access to high speed broadband Internet.

The Advantages of Broadband Over Power Lines

By providing the capability to deliver high speed broadband Internet access to every electrical outlet in a building or home, the sky is the limit as far as the number of ways that you can use the connection.  Additionally, it provides a solution for rural areas that currently do not have access to broadband due to the expense that is required to set the infrastructure in place through conventional DSL methods.

That said here are some of the advantages the broadband over power lines can bring for the future of high speed Internet:

  • Landline Telephone VoIP: Broadband over power lines is capable of delivering a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system to an existing landline telephone configuration.  This means that your telephone can be connected to the Internet for the purpose of using VoIP services such as Skype.  If you have ever used VoIP then you are aware of how inexpensive the service is which means costs savings for both businesses and homeowners.
  • Television Services: With broadband power lines service at every outlet in your home or business this provides you with access to television programs worldwide that you otherwise would not be able to experience.  It works similar to current Internet TV except the configuration for BPL is not as complex as setting up Internet TV on your HDTV through the existing broadband Internet access.
  • Anywhere Internet: With BPL you can access the Internet anywhere in your home or business without having to be concerned about the distance between you and the signal.  There are not as many wires and cords and you simply plug into your electrical outlet and you are good to go.
  • Device Communication: With a broadband connection in every electrical outlet in your home you can create a communication among your appliances and light switches.  By plugging in your devices to a standard wall outlet they can communicate with one another over the Internet.
  • Commercial Use: You may have noticed that the newest way to advertise is via digital signage.  Digital displays are in malls, public transportation venues, billboards, elevators, and even over the sink in rest rooms. Broadband over power lines service will provide an easier way for digital signage to establish high speed Internet access which will reduce advertising costs and save time on maintenance.  Additionally, security cameras in commercial venues that are equipped with BPL provide you with an easier and more cost effective solution for safety and surveillance.

These are just a few ways that broadband over power lines will change technology in the future.  Hopefully the overview will give you an idea of all the possibilities that BPL will bring and the ways that it will improve daily life.

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