• United States

More from your power line

Apr 28, 20032 mins
GovernmentInternet Service ProvidersNetworking

* Move over DSL and cable modem services - BPL is coming

The FCC is seeking comment on the use of power lines to deliver broadband services to consumers and business users around the country. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission issued a notice of inquiry looking into broadband over power line, or BPL, services.

The service could potentially support up to 20M bit/sec services. But the government agency wants to be sure that using utility infrastructure would not interfere with a wide array of wireless devices.

While DSL and cable modem broadband offerings are available in more cities around the U.S., customers in rural areas are still left with little or no choice when it comes to broadband services.

One of the key benefits of BPL is the fact that nearly every home in the U.S. has electricity and would be able to subscribe to high-speed services if BPL were available.

Two equipment companies are actually working separately toward offering later this year high-speed Internet access over power lines. The two companies are Amperion ( and Current Technologies (

The products from those companies are required by law to stay within the FCC’s existing guidelines that pertain to unlicensed radio frequency interference. But these rules may be too limiting, as the FCC did not have BPL in mind when these guidelines were established.

The emergence of a competitive service alternative to DSL and cable modem is a positive for consumers and business users, as competition typically leads to lower service prices. But there are still many unanswered questions about BPL. For example, how would power companies sell, support and bill for such a service? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed.

But the FCC is making a solid first step by seeking comment from the industry.