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 Forum index » Reviews, Editorials and Commentary » Commentary and Editorials
An ugly service- electricity grid broadband
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 11:31 pm    Post subject: An ugly service- electricity grid broadband Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

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The EC backs broadband over the electricity grid 3:59PM

The European Commission is recommending that member states investigate the possibility of delivering broadband connections over the existing electricity grid.

It urges EU nations to come up with clear and balanced regulations that will create competition and attract companies to the field. They must also remove any 'unjustified regulatory obstacles' that could impede development of the market and ensure energy companies get a fair crack at offering such services over the power line network.


There are some 200mn power lines running directly into houses, schools and businesses across the EU. With such a far-reaching network already established, power lines should be the ideal infrastructure to ensure even the most far-flung household has access to broadband.


Not only is the power grid an efficient way of delivering broadband to homes, but it in turn means the wiring internal to a home can be used as a home network.


'Affordable high-speed Internet access is vital to sustain EU competitiveness in many businesses, large and small. I want to make sure that suppliers can exploit all technological possibilities, and that we combine forces in Europe to boost broadband deployment,' said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.


NEC is currently concluding a trial of broadband over power lines in Japan with modems capable of handling bandwidths as great as 200Mbit/sec. In the UK, BT Exact is also looking into the technology.


This technology is not promising, effective and modern. For some reason it has become the latest buzzword, but frankly, it really isn?t that great at all.

It is completely silly of the EU Commmissiojn to make this move. However, large power companies, huge sums of money and politicians.. we all know about that.. Sad

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

why does this seem like such a bad idea? i remember when it was assumed that phone lines couldn't carry more than 56k/s (pre dsl days). is there something that is fundimentaly unworkable about such a plan?

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oh.. I always forget this isn?t really common knowledge. Embarassed

Try: BPL “Talking Points”



Very Happy

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

...that's an interesting read (as are the other articles on that site)....it is, however, "talking points", which to my way of thinking means "arguments for or against something that you can make without actually understanding the issues because someone else has made them for you". admittedly, this seems more balanced than some political "talking points" i see, but definitely comes at this with an agenda.

obviously, there are issues that need to be addressed if this technology is to be used. childrens walki talkie's and older cordless phones don't concern me much....emergency service communiciation does, and it would be nice if there were no degredation in ham performance (although with near-universal broadband, i'm not sure how important that is).

in any case, i don't have (and perhaps no one does) enough information to know if in absolute terms, this is a good or a bad idea. i like the idea of using an existing infrastructure, and it's somewhat an elegant solution (when my father was at mit, the campus radio was broadcast through the power grid). the problems of any technology take a long time to sort out, and this is a recomendation to look into it, not implement it on some timeline...perhaps it will lead to shielded power lines in the future.

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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm no expert on the issue, but the authors main argument may be incomplete. He says:

"Power lines, unlike cable TV lines, are not shielded."

Most of the current broadband is delivered over unshielded copper pairs (ADSL over POTS lines), and I've never heard of any problems like those described. Even though the signals are carried over power lines, that does not imply a high power RF emission. Add to this that unshielded ethernet (although using twisted pairs aka UTP), is unshielded (sic).

He focuses on potential interference in the 2-80 MHz range. I'm would think that this (just like ADSL over POTS) would be handled properly in a real implementation (using other bands or whatever).

(If any members have some info on this, let us know)

One Norwegain company that were developing power line modems, suggested that the national railway companys fiber network would be used for the long hauls. It never panned out though, and I don't know the rest of the story.

If it can be pulled off techincally and logistically, I'd welcome networking over the power lines. If nothing else it would be convenient to have LAN over power lines as a standard - at some point the ethernet cables could be dropped as products would do the LAN connection inside their internal power supplies.

Going (long range) wireless with everything can't be the solution either, there's very little room on the air (not counting focused beams) compared to the limitless room we can provide in wired commiunications.

Just some musings there...

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dmosc



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I work in the power industry and you guys must realize that a great deal of data is ALREADY carried over the power lines. Equipment needs to operate quickly and automatically at one location based on faults at another so the lines have high frequency data carrier waves run on top of the power. The technology exists, it's just a question of burocracy and scale. It also would be much easier to run as the "last leg" between the distribution sub and your house. Basically, the substation would be wired to the internet the old fashioned way and then the voltage that runs to your front door would carry the data. You'd then need some kind of router along with the wave trap at your house (not that cheap but I guess cheaper than running broadband to each house). They talk about bypassing transformers? Most distribution around here is 34.5 kv which runs from the sub to the pole 5 feet from your house so the data could be pulled locally before the transformer down to domestic voltages.

I think it's only a question of time till this happens. Running data across a power line is not that complicated. 60hz doesn't interfere much with data signals nor would the data signal really have any real effect on the power wave.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hehe... thinking, maybe what the author of the article is really afraid of, is that the multi kW after-burners that hams regularily operate in the 1.6 to 30 MHz range will Zonk Out all broadband communication for miles Very Happy Very Happy (really just joking)

dmosc, it's good to hear an optimistic take on it.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

http://www.digitaljournal.com/print.htm?id=4018

http://www.ionary.com/ion-bpl.html

http://www.eham.net/articles/6665

http://www2.rnw.nl/rnw/en/features/media/features/bpl050127.html?view=Standard

http://www.qrpis.org/~k3ng/bpl.html

http://www.ieee.org/organizations/pes/public/2004/sep/pesview.html

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Here is a more complete resource for BPL, http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/

I'm a ham operator. I'm not active anymore, but hope to get my station running again sometime this summer. I'm with the ARRL on this topic, BPL is a dangerous technology because it is a source of interference. Seems to be well documented to me.

They tried to deploy it here in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and it failed. They couldn't provide good service to customers. There are just better technologies, and in general the power companies lack the skills to deploy this and to deal with customer service issues.

As for the future of ham radio, that's another subject, but BPL could be just another nail in the coffin. Ham radio can be very important in the case of a major disaster when conventional communication is down, such as earthquakes, tsunami, and hurricanes. I recall receiving a call from my sister about 15 years ago. There was a big storm in Houston where she lived. After the storm passed through the mayor said that if it wasn't for ham radio operators many more people would have died. He said to his citizens, "If you know a ham call 'em up and thank them."

I think it's good for society to have competent ham operators distributed through the population for many reasons.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

electro80, i liked the ieee article...most of the other ones are written by/for industries/intrests that would suffer somewhat (ham, current providers of broadband). the ee community doesn't really care what technology is used, only that technology is used (and one of the authors is a power industry guy...one would expect his bias to be for expansion of what power companies do).

Quote:
(mosc)They tried to deploy it here in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and it failed. They couldn't provide good service to customers. There are just better technologies, and in general the power companies lack the skills to deploy this and to deal with customer service issues.

...ever try to setup a dsl line in the early days? i'm a big believer in market forces, and have seen the "experts" proven wrong time and time again over what is possible. there is enough money on the line here to motivate better customer service, solve some if not all of the inherent problems with the technology _and_ bring prices down on broadband in general (via competition). i agree it's important not to let them get away with implementing it without spending time/money/resources on solving the problems...and to that end, i'm glad to see discontent....of course, if it ends up being cheaper to drop optical cabling directly into everyone's house (which it might be), then that is what will happen.


Quote:
(mosc)I think it's good for society to have competent ham operators distributed through the population for many reasons.

i tend to agree with this...i'm just paranoid enough to think it's good for "the people" to have a way to communicate on a global scale without running through networks that are run by "the establshment". in this day and age, however, with satellite cell phones, internet, cell, landlines, fedex it seems a little less important than when mass communication was a one way conduit (tv, radio, newspapers), and person to person communication was slow and/or expensive. i'm not sure where i see "the need for competant ham operatators" in the spectrum of important skills we are loosing.....beekeeping (and other agricultural skills), physical fitness, analog electronics (been to radioshack lately...they still have components, but they are hidden in drawers...most kids have never seen a resistor), ability to think critically, ability to have some privacy, ability to spend money without being tracked by marketers, ability to accept death as a fact of life, ability to have a meaningful and constructive disagreement all seem to be being "lost" in our culture (at least in mine)....i'm just not sure if in this spectrum of "important things we are loosing" where ham sits....i'm sure to a ham hobbiest it's way more important than it is to me.

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dmosc



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I do concur that it totally destroys chunks of the radio spectrum but ham radio doesn't have much in the VHF range save 2 meters. I mean, it's going to be nothing compared to 60hz noise. Sometimes I feel like I can pick that up with my brain! Corse it could just be being surrounded by several 60hz monitors...

Yes there are interference concerns but they aren't terribly different than running copper broadband to each house are they? Hell, some areas are debating lond range wireless which would be worse for Hams.

I'm not totally up beat on it. The major problem is the power industry takes years to do what should take weeks let alone something as global as this. But do I think it's a viable technology that should be used? Absolutely! It's especially suited for agricultural and isolated communities the world over that barely are in the reach of electricity, let alone internet. I agree it's probably not best for cities.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Here's a link to a video made by a local ham operator that is especially disturbing to me since I live about 4 miles from Emmaus, Pennsylvania. In fact, Sparky goes to the Emmaus Animal Hospital.

http://216.167.96.120/BPL_Emmaus.mpg

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

that is quite sad to see....
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

...that is a dramatic differance. one can only guess how "clean" this can be made to be. if it's as dramatic as the differance between the first nuclear explosions blinding those gawking at it vs. a modern nuc power plant, then it could be great Smile ....it may also be 95% as clean as it can be.
i don't know ham stuff at all, and it would be interesting to see a similar analysis of emergecy services radio equipment, air to ground communications, and other affected applications...or am i daft, and it's obvious that this same effect will be devistating thought the hf?

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dmosc



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'd be curious to see what frequencies the BPL claimed to be using. The FCC has guidelines for interference and even if they give them a huge frequency range or even some harmonics on it, that kind of broad ranging interference I don't think would be allowed.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

One of the modulation schemes is from 1.5 thru 30 MHz. Shocked
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I been talking to some engineers around here and does that guy have any information about his location? It sounds suspiciously like carona flare from a bad insulator. I'm not saying he's wrong or anything but it would help his case to pan up and see that he's not 5 feet from a high voltage line
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

You know as much as I know.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Agree - we gotta save the hams (and more) and not pollute the open air spectrum unduly Smile

Haven't had time to read all the references (thanks elektro!), only skimmed a few. There are obviously valid concerns with the current way of going about it.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I didn?t find my list of european tech papers on the subject. Sad
Those are far more informative.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

in discussing this with someone today, it was claimed that the appliance industry is part of the special intrest behind this technology. makes connecting the coffee grinder to the internet much easier.

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