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Challenges for Broadband over Power Line

The idea of transmitting data over electrical power lines is not new. Trials are in progress worldwide and a variety of equipment is available, but no large-scale deployments have been completed.

Two modes exist: "broadband over power line" (BPL), offering high-speed access via the electrical grid; and data transfer around the home. The latter comes in several regional flavors with different names including HomePlug and the more generic PLC.

Power line communications offer theoretical benefits to some consumers and some providers. But a new study from ABI Research shows that these are still infant technologies facing significant obstacles to success.

Serious bandwidth and radio interference issues remain, and would-be BPL vendors face stiff competition from incumbent DSL and cable networks. In-home PLC presents other challenges. While realistically positioning themselves as collaborators, not competitors to home networking technologies like Wi-Fi and MoCA, PLC developers are split into at least three technical camps.

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