How Broadband Over Powerlines Works

What's the Big Idea?

Despite the proliferation of broadband technology in the last few years, there are still huge parts of the world that don't have access to high-speed Internet. When weighed against the relatively small number of customers Internet providers would gain, the cost of laying cable and building the necessary infrastructure to provide DSL or cable in rural areas is too great. But if broadband could be served through power lines, there would be no need to build a new infrastructure. Anywhere there is electricity there could be broadband.

By slightly modifying the current power grids with specialized equipment, the BPL developers could partner with power companies and Internet service providers to bring broadband to everyone with access to electricity.

At this point, the proposal is for two types of BPL service:

  • In-House BPL will network machines within a building.
  • Access BPL will carry broadband Internet using power lines and allow power companies to electronically monitor power systems.

By providing high-speed data transmission between all of the electrical plugs in a house, there is the potential to network all kinds of common appliances in a household. If your alarm clock, light switch and coffee maker could talk each other via a high-speed connection, mornings might look a lot different.

In the next sections, we'll learn about the technology behind both In-House and Access BPL.