Broadband over power lines

With momentum building to adapt electrical power lines for Internet and other broadband communications, the IEEE has begun work on a standard to define the nature of the communication channel to be used.

The standard, IEEE P1901, “Standard for Broadband over Power Line Networks: Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications”, will make it easier for high-speed communication equipment to be used with AC power lines.

Participants developing P1901 include companies and other organisations from the power, utilities and broadband communities. It is targeted for completion in early 2007.

IEEE P1901 will apply to broadband-over-power-line (BPL) devices for first-mile/last-mile connection to broadband services, as well as those for the local area networks and other data distribution systems to function over copper power lines in a building. The standard will create a balanced and efficient BPL channel that has the bandwidth and quality of service needed by all users.

In access BPL systems, communication signals are imposed on electrical distribution feeders and travel over medium-voltage lines to the step-down transformer at a residence or business. A repeater/router extracts the signal and places it on the low-voltage wiring where it can be accessed through a modem plugged into any outlet.

For more information on this working group and the broader IEEE broadband-over-powerline effort, see