- The new generation of Powerline Communication utilizes the latest in modem and chipset technology to deliver high speed data transmission and broadband communications across an electric utility’s medium and low voltage distribution systems. The services that PLC will support fall into two categories.
Internet Access/Home & Business Networking
Broadband Powerline Communications or PLC is simply data transfer via a combination of the power network within the home or office, the metropolitan power distribution grid. Of key importance here is that no new wires need to be installed in the “last mile,” and PLC takes advantage of the largest network on earth by far, the global power grid.
Utility Related Services
Although the The PLC Network is based on the power distribution network, it will be able to provide and will enable services to utility the power network operators to improve the safety and efficiency of the power network. These services include: Network Switching, Network Monitoring Fault Diagnosis, Demand side management of power distribution network, Remote load control, Tariff Switching, Meter reading telemetry.
More importantly, it seems to be working:
- “Every power plug in your home becomes a broadband connection,” said Edmond Thomas, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology. He said companies developing the technology have overcome many hurdles in the past year.
“It’s starting to look like a very viable technology,” said Thomas, who described the technology in a presentation to the agency’s five commissioners. “We’re very excited.”
But it is uncertain whether most consumers will get to use it anytime soon, said Mark Uncapher, senior vice president with the Information Technology Association of America, a Washington-based trade group.
“It is still very much an open question just how commercially feasible it is,” he said. “It’s going to need a company or companies that are really going to champion it.”
….”It is working,” said Alan Shark, president of the Power Line Communications Association, which is promoting the technology. The trade group includes Internet companies including Earthlink and 11 utility companies that provide power to about 30 million homes.
Earthlink, the No. 3 Internet service provider, has been in talks with utility companies, exploring partnerships to develop and market the technology, said Dave Baker, the company’s vice president for law and public policy.
“The engineering challenges are largely being overcome,” Baker said. “The biggest challenges now are getting the product to market.” [AP]
Anything to spur the growth of broadband is exciting, and piggybacking on existing systems seems very efficient and holistic and fuzzy and stuff. This reminds me a bit of the Microsoft retrofitting story from earlier today: everything old is newish again. Do two stories make a trend?