The future growth of broadband over power line (BPL) is tied to smart grid development in the energy industry, according to a new report, “New directions for broadband over power line: 2007”, from the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC).

Previously BPL was deployed by utilities principally to provide commercial broadband access services. Now, however, BPL is increasingly being used to support utility applications, such as advanced metering, outage detection, load management and video surveillance, and systems are currently being deployed on a wide scale in certain areas, some extending beyond 100,000 meters already with the prospect of passing two million meters when completed.

The advantage of using BPL as part of the smart grid network, according to the report, is that it rides over the electric power grid, thus reaching all devices – both overhead and underground – that utilities want to monitor and control. By leveraging the existing infrastructure it also helps to overcome the technical and economic barriers to providing broadband services to rural and other underserved areas.

The IEEE is currently considering draft standards for interoperability between in-home and access BPL systems, safety and installation, and system radiation monitoring. BPL is also receiving strong federal and state report.

With this deployment of BPL in support of smart grids, the overall industry will benefit from increased economies of scale for BPL rollouts, lowering BPL equipment costs and promoting interoperability between BPL networks.

www.utc.org