Parks Associates Blog

Friday, May 02, 2008

Dallas BPL already dead?

A nice poster left an anonymous comment on our blog post from April 21st, DirecTV Moving Ahead with Broadband-Over-Powerline..., saying "Dallas Morning News today says, "Broadband over power lines plan is dead in Dallas." Could Parks Associates be any more WRONG about BPL?" The link to the article is here.

We appreciate the comment and critique, but we don't believe our conclusion about BPL is wrong. Although we were encouraged by the DirecTV/Current/Oncor experiment, we always believed that BPL is a niche technology and it won't be a significant competitor to cable, DSL, and fiber broadband. In the post, we mentioned that we forecasted 0.5% of U.S. broadband households will be using BPL technology by 2012 (and this forecast included the potential subscribers DirecTV might have signed up if the deal had gone through). The current count is only about 10,000 U.S. households. BPL will continue to face challenges and Oncor abandoning their original plan will definitely add salt to injury.

To confirm that the deal is indeed dead, I emailed the reporter at DMN, Andrew Smith. He said Oncor confirmed it's dead and when he approached DirecTV, they referred him to Oncor. I guess it means it's dead then.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Ed Hare said...

In Dallas, BPL may be dead for Internet access, but Oncor plans to use BPL as part of its smart-grid system. Although in most urban and suburban areas that have tried BPL for Internet access, the end result have been less than spectacular, interest in BPL for utility use continues strong with some of the utilities that have tried it. As a minimum, they want to seriously consider how BPL can integrate with an overall approach to modernize the grid.

There are two areas in which Internet access BPL has met with some success. Most involve some form of government sponsorship. In rural areas, BPL is being promoted under various federal loan programs. Other city-run utilities have been undertaking BPL, either with the hopes that it will generate revenue or with the expectation that it will provide broadband Internet access where it doesn't presently exist.

The reactions of utilities to the technology vary. One utility in Austin, TX, was not enamoured: http://p1k.arrl.org/~ehare/bpl/coaae_BPL_Final_Report.pdf. Others have been more positive and are proceeding with deployment, almost always with a strong interest in smart-grid.

ARRL has been very intersted in the interference aspects of BPL. The Current Technologies system in Dallas had addressed interference reasonably, with fixed filtering in the spectrum authorized to the licensed Amateur Radio Service. Unfortunately, the present FCC rules and developing industry standards do not match this successful model.

Ed Hare, W1RFI@arrl.org
ARRL Lab
225 Main St
Newington, CT 06111
Tel: 860-594-0318

8:03 AM  

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