How Amazing Is This? Broadband through Your Electric Socket!

From today’s Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star:

“Manassas has become the first city in America where every family can access high-speed Internet service simply by plugging into a common electrical wall socket. … The technology being put to use in Manassas is called broadband over power line (BPL) and it carries data over the city’s electrical grid. … Customers are provided with a modem to plug into their home electrical sockets.”

The service costs $28.95 per month — less than what the cable and DSL typically costs. Where the technology could prove to be really significant is in rural areas where broadband service doesn’t exist at all. Said Joseph E. Gerus, CEO of Communications Technologies Inc. , the Chantilly telecommunications company involved with the project: “What we are announcing today in Manassas is something that we could be rolling out in a year or two in literally scores of communities across the United States.”

Presumably, they’re paying attention down in Southside, where installing a broadband network is a high priority — and public money is available to fund it. The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, underwritten by tobacco settlement funds, is committing $21 million to bring broadband to six new communities: Dinwiddie, Appomattox, Bedford, South Hill, Martinsville and Danville. (See article in the Petersburg Progress-Index.)

They aren’t using the Manassas technology in Southside, but I’m wondering if Broadband Over Power Line might drive down the cost of extending broadband access beyond the mill-town population clusters to dispersed residents in the countryside. I’d bet there are a number of rural electrical cooperatives that would love to diversify their revenue stream.

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  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Believe it or not, I included this idea in the first draft of my unpublished novel, Rosetta 6.2, in 1990. Also had other technologies like face recognition software. Re-written many times, I have an agent, but no contract. My day is ‘futures’ – usually. Just FYI.

  2. nickfinity Avatar

    Rappahannock Electric Cooperative recently finished a study to determine whether or not BPL was economically feasible. Apparently it failed their test ( However, they are still looking at wireless. I’m hoping something comes up for rural customers.

    As a side note. BPL has quite a few detractors, especially those that operate ham radios. Supposedly a lot of interference.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Nickfinity, You blog readers are an unbelievable source of information. I never would have heard of the REC study otherwise. Amazing.

  4. Nothing against this technology, but localities should be seeking wireless broadband solutions. Muni-wifi is where its at.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    posting anonymously (since my own viewpoints run counter to my employers), i don’t know if i agree with this statement. no offense, but in most cases i wouldn’t say that muni-wifi and broadband belong in the same sentence. there’s only so much spectrum availble in wifi, and with the growing number of personal wifi LANs, WiFi MAN implmenentation is increasingly difficult. WiMax will help this for some time, as the 5.2-5.8 where most implementations will likely be is less congested currently than 2.4. but with consumer market only lagging a year or two behind the commerical/carrier, i expect that to change as well.

    copper, cable, power. these are fixed infrastructures with hierarchical networks suited to a unicast information distribution model. the airwaves however, on a wide scale, are more appropriate for broadcast/multicast (tv, radio,etc). what about cell-phones? low bandwidth GSM and other voice codecs have a pretty small footprint.

  6. Sara in Appomattox Avatar
    Sara in Appomattox

    Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is currently running a pilot program on BPL. Hopefully us rural folks will soon get a chance to sign up. Link on the program:

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