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11/4/2004
09:20 AM
Peter Morrissey
Peter Morrissey
Commentary
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Broadband Over Powerlines Gets FCC Plug

The new BPL technology delivers broadband service over electric utility facilities, providing a broadband alternative to rural and monopoly-dominated regions.

If you want an alternative to DSL and cable broadband services, ask your local power company. The FCC has approved specifications for BPL (Broadband over Power Line), an emerging technology that lets carriers transport data over the same lines electrical utilities use to deliver power. BPL promises to provide broadband service to areas that don't have DSL or cable, and it could provide competition in areas dominated by a single cable company or DSL provider.

Critics have worried that BPL could interfere with frequencies used by ham radio operators and government agencies. But the FCC guidelines call for filtering techniques and agreements to avoid implementation in select areas.

BPL also can be used to manage the power grid. Companies like New Visions and Current Technologies are already testing BPL across the United States. The technology holds even greater promise for remote areas that can't get DSL or cable. In some cases, BPL may be used to extend Wi-Fi or WiMAX closer to rural subscribers.

BPL services will be rolled out based on demand. So if you haven't already done so, tell your power provider you're interested in reasonably priced, high-performing, ubiquitous broadband connectivity. BPL could be your ticket out of monopoly services.

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