Powerline Communication Seminar Report

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  • 8/6/2019 Powerline Communication Seminar Report


    Seminar Report PowerlineCommunication

    1.0.0 Introduction

    Connecting to the Internet is a fact of life for business,

    government, and most households. The lure of e-commerce, video on

    demand, and e-mail has brought 60 million people to the Internet. Once

    they get to the Internet, they find out what its really like. That includes

    long waits for popular sites, substantial waits for secure sites, and horrible

    video quality over the web.

    Telephone companies have offered high bandwidth lines for

    many years. For the most part, the cost of these lines and the equipment

    needed to access them has limited their usefulness to large businesses. The

    lone exception has been ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) which

    has won over some residential customers. ISDN offers fast Internet access

    (128k) at a relatively low cost.

    Here the solution is Powerline communications (or PLC).

    Powerline communications is a rapidly evolving market that utilizes

    electricity power lines for the high-speed transmission of data and voice


    None of the available Internet access services offer the right

    balance of cost, convenience, and speed. Digital Powerline technology

    could change all that. It gives customers high speed Internet access through

    electrical networks. Lower costs are achieved because the service is

    implemented on standard electrical lines. The service is also convenient

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    because its already in your home. Internet access through Digital

    Powerline would be at (at least) 1Mbps, 20 times faster than a standard

    phone/modem connection.

    1.1.0 History

    The technology has roots going back to the 1940s.It has been

    used by power utilities for simple telemetering and control of electrical

    equipment in their networks.

    What is new is the integration of activities outside the building

    with those inside the building at a much higher bandwidth, 2.5 mbps or


    1.2.0 Overview of Technology

    PLC works by transmitting high frequency data signals

    through the same power cable network used for carrying electricity power

    to household users. Such signal cannot pass through a transformer. This

    requires devices that combine the voice and data signals with the low-

    voltage supply current in the local transformer stations. The signal makes

    its way to neighborhoods and customers who could access either it

    wirelessly, through utility poles.

    Digital Powerline use a network, known as a High Frequency

    Conditioned Power Network (HFCPN), to transmit data and electrical

    signals. A HFCPN uses a series of Conditioning Units (CU) to filter those

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    Seminar Report PowerlineCommunicationseparate signals. The CU sends electricity to the outlets in the home and

    data signals to a communication module or " service unit " . The service unit

    provides multiple channels for data, voice, etc. Base station servers at localelectricity substations connect to the Internet via fiber or broadband coaxial

    cable. The end result is similar to a neighborhood local area network.

    1.2.1 The Server

    The Digital Powerline base station is a standard rack

    mountable system designed specifically for current street electricity

    cabinets. Typically, one street cabinet contains twelve base station units,

    each capable of communicating over 1 of 40 possible radio channels. These

    units connect to the public telecommunications network at E1 or T1 (*see

    appendix D) speeds over some broadband service.

    Several options, with different costs, can provide broadband

    Internet service to each base station. The simplest solution is connecting

    leased lines to each substation. This solution is potentially quite costly

    because of the number of lines involved. A wireless system has also been

    suggested to connect base stations to the Internet. This option reduces local

    loop fees, but increases hardware costs. Another alternative involves

    running high bandwidth lines, along side electric lines, to substations.

    These lines could be fiber (*See appendix C), ATM, or broadband coaxial

    cable. This option avoids local loop fees, but is beset by equipment fees.

    The actual deployment of Digital Powerline will probably involve a mix of

    these alternatives, optimized for cost efficiency in different areas and with

    different service providers.

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    These base stations typically serve approximately 50

    customers, providing over 20 MHz of usable spectrum to near end

    customers and between 6 and 10 MHz of useable spectrum to far endcustomers. The server operates via IP to create a LAN type environment for

    each local service area.

    1.2.2 The HFCPN Conditioning Unit

    The conditioning Unit (CU) for the Digital Powerline Network

    is placed near the electric meter at each customers home. The CU uses

    band pass filters to segregate the electricity and data signals, which

    facilitate the link between a customers premise and an electricity


    The CU contains three coupling ports. The device receives

    aggregate input from its Network Port (NP). This aggregate input passes

    through a high pass filter. Filtering allows data signals to pass to a

    Communications Distribution Port (CDP) and a low pass filter sends

    electric signals to the Electricity Distribution Port (EDP).

    The 50 Hz signal flows from the low pass filter, out of the

    EDP and to the electricity meter. The low pass filter also serves to attenuate

    extraneous noise generated by electrical appliances at the customer

    premises. Left unconditioned, the aggregation of this extraneous noise from

    multiple homes would cause significant distortion in the network.

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    The high pass filter facilitates two way data traffic to and from

    the customer premise. Data signals flow through the CDP to the customers

    service unit via standard coaxial cable.

    1.2.3 Service Unit

    The service unit is a wall or table mountable multi-purpose

    data communications box. The unit facilitates data connections via BNC

    connectors to cable modems and telephone connections via standard line

    termination jacks. The service unit provides its own line power for ringing

    and contains a battery backup in case of power outage. Alternative

    Differential Pulse Code Modulation (ADPCM)

    is used for speech sampling. Because Digital

    Powerline allows for the termination of multiple

    radio signals at the customer premises, the

    service unit can facilitate various Customer

    Premises Equipment (CPE) simultaneously. In a

    manner similar to ISDN, data (computers) and

    voice (telephones) devices can coexist without interfering with each other.

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    Seminar Report PowerlineCommunication1.3.0 CASE STUDY

    1.3.1 Powerline Trials: Seymour Park Primary School

    Digital Powerline

    technology was

    first tested in a

    public setting at

    the Seymour Park Primary School in

    Manchester, UK.

    Twelve PCs were

    connected to a

    single Digital Powerline outlet. Dedicated high-speed access to the Internet

    turned out to be a great success in the eyes of students and teachers.Nortels

    Digital Powerline web site quotes Seymour Head teacher, Jenny Dunn;

    "The high speed connection really lets us take advantage of the educational

    potential of the Internet. With a normal connection the children could lose

    interest waiting for pages to download. The new system means information

    arrives virtually instantaneously, thereby maximizing teaching time and

    keeping children on task. This set is amazingly flexible in educational

    terms, and not only gives us the additional medium with which to improve

    standards, but prepares us for the National Grid for Learning."

    1.3.2 Powerline Trials: Stanley Road

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    Following the success at Seymour Park, a more

    comprehensive trial was initiated at the Stanley Road electricity substation,

    also located in

    Manchester. The crux

    of this trial was to test

    the limits of

    Powerline technology

    and make sure that it

    could meet industry

    standards even in worst case scenarios.

    The Stanley Road substation was set up to use two distributors

    to serve two distinct neighborhoods. Northumberland Close is located 350

    meters from the substation and Seymour Close is located 600 meters from

    the substation. Fifteen users were chosen between the two neighborhoodsto participate in the pilot program. They received various data and

    telephone services as well as remote metering/information services.

    Unfortunately, the results of the trial are unobtainable. Nortel

    and Nor.Web claim that the results of this trial and similar trials in the

    United States are being protected for competitive reasons. The only

    indication of the trials success is a subjective quote from Nor.Web. The

    quote states that "results produced over this period have now proved

    conclusively that Nor.Webs technology provides a commercially viable

    alternative to established means of telecommunications delivery to

    customer premises."

    1.4.0 Application areas offered by Powerline communications

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    PLC offers end-users a broad spectrum of applications and

    services including broadband Internet access , voice over IP , multimedia

    services , telecommunication , home automation and energy

    managemen(near energy services) . Powerline offers the opportunity for

    the PC to be integrated into the household as never before. As part of the

    household power grid, PCs could easily be programmed to turn off lights

    and control security devices.

    1.4.1 Powerline telecommunication

    Powerline telecommunications is a rapidly evolving market

    that utilises electricity power lines for the high speed transmission of data

    and voice services. The especially exciting thing about the potential for

    PLT is that it holds the promise of solving the underlying structural

    problem confronting the local access market today. PLT can provide the

    holy-grail of a much needed, highly elusive, alternative source of

    ubiquitous local loops other than the incumbent telco operator, something

    we sadly have yet to see happen on a sufficient scale and scope. Indeed,

    what make PLT so attractive from a public policy point of view are the

    facts that:

    The power grid is ubiquitous; it constitutes an existing network

    infrastructure to billions of private consumers and businesses

    The power grid offers last-mile conductivity

    The power grid supports information based services with strong

    growth potential.

    1.4.2 Home Automation

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    The Home Plug Powerline Alliance (HPA), a U.S. consortium

    of 90 members, including such high-tech giants as Cisco, Intel, Motorola,

    and Hewlett-Packard is working on technology to link appliances such asTVs, computers and cookers via the home electrical system.

    Appliance makers like Samsung Electronics Co. have been

    solidifying cooperation with their technology partners to enable them to

    market Internet-controllable home appliances this year. Samsung plans to

    set up a Dream LG site on its homepage to advertise its Internet-enabled

    products to potential customers.

    1.4.3 Internet access

    Last December Intellon announced its PowerPacketTM

    Powerline networking chipset, the first product certified as compliant with

    the HPAs 1.0 Specification introduced earlier that year. The chipset allows

    users to access the Internet and connect computers and other devices at

    speeds up to 14 mbps by simply plugging into power outlets throughout a

    home or small office.

    1.4.4 Power management (near energy services)

    Near energy services are defined as energy services with in the

    confines of current business which ads new forms, features and scales.

    Examples are remote billing, remote metering, demand side e management

    distribution automation and remote control of supply. Advantages of such

    system for utilities lie in their potential for cost cutting and improving

    customer loyalty

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    1.5.0 Potential Advantages of Digital Powerline Technology

    This telecommunications model has multiple advantages over

    others including speed, an established local loop, and dedicated

    connections. These advantages make Digital Powerline technology an

    attractive alternative for telecommunications systems.

    In the Digital Powerline model, small LANs are created; they

    terminate at each local electricity substation. These LANs will share a

    T1/E1 connection to the Internet, similar to a corporation leasing a T1 line.

    Individual users should experience tremendous speed increases over

    conventional 28.8kbs or 56kps dialup connections, even at peak usage.

    Another inherent advantage to the Digital Powerline model is

    the fact that it works well over the existing electric power infrastructure (at

    least in the UK, see the Limitations section below). Only the substation

    server equipment and customer conditioning/service units need to be

    installed in order to establish a Digital Powerline network.

    Dedicated, multipurpose communication lines make the

    Digital Powerline model an attractive option for the information age. Wide

    bandwidth and frequency division multiplexing allow for multiple lines to a

    single household. Ideally, an entire family could utilize their own

    communication devices simultaneously, whether telephone or PC, without

    interrupting one another.

    Powerline carry signals for long distances without requiring

    regeneration. Their near light speed propagation makes them very powerful

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    Seminar Report PowerlineCommunicationfor fast delivery of video and audio data. There is no topology limitation for

    power lines.

    High transmission rate, right now 3 mbps in uploading and

    downloading. The data transmission rate is expected up to 200 mbps in the

    future by improving the PLC chip.

    Permanent on-line connection with the potential for lower

    charges. No need for complicated wiring and additional installations. Move

    your computers and appliances where you want. Secure data-encryption.

    Lower investment costs compared to those envisaged for other broadband

    data access systems.

    1.6.0 Potential Extensions to Digital Powerline Technology

    There are many possible extensions to the Digital Powerlinemodel. Those mentioned in reviews and technical journals include "the

    wired home" and remote customer information services. Since Digital

    Powerline creates a LAN type environment by running IP, people could

    theoretically control all of the appliances in their home from their PC or a

    remote device. Each home on the neighborhood LAN would operate as a

    sub-network of the LAN and each electrical outlet could be treated as anode on that sub-network.

    The Nortel web site predicts, "It could also be feasible to have

    an Internet address for every plug in the house, through which you could e-

    mail, for example: [email protected] and study the picture relayed by the

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    Seminar Report PowerlineCommunicationvideo camera to see what shopping you require; or you could remotely turn

    the lights off and the burglar alarm on using your own password."

    Remote services such as remote metering have already been

    tested under this model and many more services are possible. Because the

    service provider can keep track of electricity and bandwidth usage via the

    network, customers will also be able to monitor their usage, reliably predict

    billing and keep an eye on household usage (i.e. the teenagers phone


    1.7.0 Current Limitations of Digital Powerline Technology

    1.7.1 Electro-Magnetic Radiation Issues

    Powerline solutions, like phone line solutions, are

    unintentional radiators. Emissions can potentially cause interference with

    radio, television, community antenna television, telephone and DSL


    Second generation PLC technologies are using techniques like

    OFDM, which substantially reduce the potential of interference to radio

    users, thanks to a decrease in transmitted power spectral density. The

    OFDM modulation spreads the signal over a very wide bandwidth, thus

    reducing the amount on power injected at a single frequency. Field trials of

    PLC technologies carried out during the last 2 years in Europe (Spain, Italy,

    Germany), North America, South America (Chile, Brazil) and Asia

    (Singapore) have shown that interference with radio users is no longer a

    problem for PLC. The same technique explains why current PLC

    technology does not affect other appliances in the home.

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    1.7.2 Addressing issue

    As the number of users and devices connected to Power Lines

    increases by orders of magnitude, it becomes clear that we cannot satisfy

    the demand using IPv4/NAT, at least not without enormous administrative

    complexity. A much larger address space is needed to provide end-to-end

    connectivity in a simple manner and to allow new applications and services

    to work in a transparent manner.

    Clearly, the solution of problem is with IPv6, or Next

    Generation Internet Addresses (IPNG) unlimited address space of IPv6 is

    needed to provide end-to-end connectivity and allow new applications and

    services to work in a transparent manner across PLC networks at massive

    scale (imagine every power socket in Beijing or Mumbai becoming an

    Internet access point!).

    1.7.3 Security

    The transmission of data over a network that anybody has

    access to could also pose a data security problem, however. Tapping the

    signal could allow somebody to eavesdrop on communications. Only data

    encryption eliminates that problem.

    1.7.4 Noise interference

    Power line networking is also vulnerable to interference from

    devices connected to the power infrastructure, such as microwaves and


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    This can be solved by either using repeaters or dynamic chang

    of frequencies.

    1.7.5 Regulatory and standardization issues

    Powerline's maximum access speed is shared with all users

    connected to the same local network station. The more people that are

    simultaneously on the Internet, the lower the speed obtained.

    Several implementation issues have held back Digital

    Powerline in North America and the UK. Respectively, the problems are

    the numbers of users per transformer and the size and shape of light poles.

    In North America, a transformer serves from 5 to 10

    households while in Europe a transformer serves 150 households. Digital

    Powerline signals cannot pass through a transformer. Therefore, all

    electrical substation equipment needed for Digital Powerline has to be

    located after the transformer. Since there are fewer households per

    transformer in North America, predicted equipment costs are prohibitive.

    However, this conclusion has been debated. Analysts suggest that 100%

    subscription rates are possible in the US, and that at such rates Digital

    Powerline is profitable. Conventional wisdom suggests that there is a way

    to make Digital Powerline profitable in North America, whether it is

    through bundling a variety of services or higher fees.

    Soon after the first trials of Digital Powerline in the UK, some

    unanticipated problems arose. Certain radio frequencies were suddenly

    deluged with traffic, making it impossible to transmit on those frequencies.

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    Seminar Report PowerlineCommunicationBBC, amateur radio, and the UKs emergency broadcasting service were

    affected. The apparent culprits were standard light poles. Then it became

    clear that by pure chance British light poles were the perfect size and shapeto broadcast Digital Powerline signals. This situation posed problems not

    just because of the frequencies involved but also because anyone could

    listen in on the traffic. Nor.Web is addressing the problem by proposing to

    lease the frequencies involved from their owners and offering amateur

    radio operators a new frequency. Negotiations on this topic are currently

    taking place in London. The privacy issue has not been fully addressed at

    this point, besides suggestions that all sensitive information should be


    While the promise of Powerline Telecommunications is great,

    it is important for everyone to understand that this technology is in its

    infancy and there are several hurdles the Powerline industry is working

    hard to overcome to make PLT a true close substitute to the existing

    incumbent public switched telephone network (PSTN) in the United States.

    Specifically, the main weaknesses of PLT products and services are that:

    (a) They are still at the developmental stage;

    (b) There is no significant installed customer base to date;

    (c) And the distances that Powerline technology can cover are limited.

    Moreover, the industry is working hard to resolve the complex

    issues of standardization and interoperability.

    1.8.0 The Market for Digital Powerline

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    Trends in both the electric and telecommunications industry

    have lead to a climate where Digital Powerline should be a big player.These trends include customer demand for affordable and high speed

    Internet access, deregulation of electrical utilities, and the repercussions of

    a variety of telecommunications legislation.

    Customers want cheaper, faster, and more reliable access to

    the Internet right now. Not only can Digital Powerline provide that type of

    service, but it will be available before other broadband access technologies.

    Therefore Digital Powerline has both a time to market and cost advantage.

    The utility industry is facing deregulation in North America,

    Europe, and some parts of Asia. Deregulation means increased competition

    in the slow growing electricity market with little protection for utilities. An

    unenviable position indeed. Consequently, many utilities are actively

    seeking to diversify into other, more profitable, industries.For many

    utilities telecommunications and Internet services have been a sensible

    choice. That option can only become more popular as Digital Powerline


    Digital Powerline offers a deregulated utility several options

    and advantages. The utility can either lease the rights to implement Digital

    Powerline on its electrical grid or develop the technology itself. The

    advantages include the low cost of the local loop, differentiating the utility

    from other utilities, and bundling a variety of services.

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    The most recent telecommunications act has tried to make it

    easier for all types of telecommunications firms to sell local services and

    long distance services. However, Regional Bells actually have control over local lines and charge other companies who place calls on their lines. Many

    of the larger phone companies have sought to get around these charges by

    building or leasing their own networks to connect to local points. Digital

    Powerline is an existing network that fits those needs. Expect to see smaller

    telecommunications companies partnering with electrical utilities to

    provide alternative local phone service.

    1.8.1 Who is testing or has tested the technology?

    PLC abroad

    Proof that the PLC concept works in practice was furnished by

    a series of field trials by Main.net of Israel, Ascom of Switzerland and

    some other companies in 16 European countries from Portugal toScandinavia, as well as in Hong Kong, Korea, India, Singapore and the

    Americas. These trials fulfilled all expectations of reliability, functionality

    and the practical applications of Powerline communications. The first

    installations are now already up and running or about to go live.

    Users in Germany include the electricity companies RWEEnergie Essen and EnBW Energie Baden-Wrttemberg, while in Spain the

    energy and telecoms group Endesa uses PLC technology. Lina.Net of

    Iceland, a subsidiary of Reykjavik Energy, has recently begun introducing

    PLC technology with the declared objective of providing private

    households with fast Internet access over the power grid rather than the

    telephone network. In Sweden Sydkraft, one of the leading energy

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    providers in Scandinavia uses PLC for bridging the last mile as well as for

    networking inside buildings.

    PLC in USA

    New York-based Ambient - which will partner with Cisco,

    perhaps the technology's largest supporter, and Bechtel on future projects -

    is working with the utility Consolidated Edison of New York and Southern

    Telecom of Atlanta, a subsidiary of Southern Co., a leading energy

    company to expand its testing to several hundred homes. Results indicated

    that high frequency data transmissions could be transmitted and received

    over distances of more than half a mile, with minimal signal loss. In recent

    months, Ambient has achieved throughput speeds in excess of 20 mbps,

    and connectivity over distances of 1.5 miles. Up to 200 users can be

    supported on a single distribution circuit. Pricing for the systems is not yet

    available. Ambient expects to go fully commercial with its systems by first

    quarter 2003.

    Powerline Technologies in Reston, Virginia, is trying out its

    system with two utilities in the East and one in the Midwest. Earlier last

    year, the company finished initial PLT tests in suburban Atlanta, where a

    handful of households accessed the Net through a specially designed

    modem that can hit speeds greater than 1.5 mbps.

    Owing to recent advances for PLC in Europe, and the efforts

    of a handful of U.S. PLC vendors including one backed by American

    Electric Power (AEP), PLC is closer to being a commercial reality in the

    U.S. than ever before. Beta tests scheduled by each of these firms over the

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    Seminar Report PowerlineCommunicationnext 12 months will be crucial to resolving outstanding technical hurdles,

    standardizing equipment and deployment techniques, and building interest

    and partnerships with utilities.

    1.9.0 2003 Update on the Power Industry

    Efficient Networks Introduces Gateways Combining DSL

    Access with 802.11g Wireless and Powerline Networking.

    Gateways Include New ControlNet Embedded Software

    Enabling Carriers To Differentiate Services And Extend Their Brand At

    The Customer Premises Level.

    DALLAS July 7, 2003 Efficient Networks, Inc., a

    subsidiary of Siemens AG, today announced the availability of the

    SpeedStream DSL Gateway Family. The family includes a gateway

    combining a DSL modem with 802.11g wireless networking technology in

    a single box and a gateway combining DSL access with 802.11g wireless

    and powerline networking technologies. All of the gateways in the family

    ship with Efficient Networks new ControlNetTM embedded software,

    giving service providers a platform at the customer premises for offeringadvanced services, extending their brands and differentiating their service

    offerings in ways previously not available.

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    1.10.0 Conclusion

    Digital Powerline technology is an exciting alternative to

    connecting to the Internet via phone and modem. Though this technology is

    not commercially available yet, it should be available before other

    broadband technologies due to the relatively low cost of its local loop.

    Moreover, its high speeds will provide Internet access, video on demand,

    local phone, and long distance phone services to customers.

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    1.11.0 Reference





    O'Neal Jr., J.B. (1986) "The residential power circuit as a

    communication medium," IEEETrans. on Consumer Electronics, vol.

    CE-32, No. 3, pp. 567-577.

    Malek, J.A. & Engstorm, J.R. (1976)

    "R.F. impedance of United States

    and European power lines," IEEE

    Trans. on Elec. Comp., vol. EMC-18, pp. 36-38.

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    1.0.0 Introduction 11.1.0 History 21.2.0 Overview of Technology 2

    1.2.1 The Server 31.2.2 The HFCPN Conditioning Unit 41.2.3 Service Unit 5

    1.3.0 CASE STUDY 61.3.1 Powerline Trials: Seymour Park Primary School 61.3.2 Powerline Trials: Stanley Road 7

    1.4.0 Application areas offered by Powerline communications 81.4.1 Powerline telecommunication 81.4.2 Home Automation 91.4.3 Internet access 91.4.4 Power management (Near energy services) 9

    1.5.0 Potential Advantages of Digital Powerline Technology 10

    1.6.0 Potential Extensions to Digital Powerline Technology 111.7.0 Current Limitations of Digital Powerline Technology 12

    1.7.1Electro-Magnetic Radiation Issues 121.7.2 Addressing issue 131.7.3 Security 131.7.4 Noise interference 131.7.5 Regulatory and standardization issues 14

    1.8.0 The Market for Digital Powerline 151.8.1 Who is testing or has tested the technology? 17PLC abroad 17PLC in USA 18

    1.9.0 2003 Update on the Power Industry 191.10.0 Conclusion 201.11.0 Reference 21

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    Power Line Communications (PLC) allows transmission of

    data over power lines. PLC is potentially the network with the deepest

    capillarity in the world, since power lines are almost ubiquitous. Powerine

    communications is a rapidly evolving market that utilizes electricity power

    lines for the high-speed transmission of data and voice services.

    PLC works by transmitting high frequency data signals

    through the same power cable network used for carrying electricity power

    to household users. Such signal cannot pass through a transformer. This

    requires devices ("outdoor devices") that combine the voice and data

    signals with the low-voltage supply current in the local transformer stations

    to bridge the last mile. In the house, "indoor devices" (adapters) are used in

    order to filter out the voice and data signals and to feed them to the various

    applications (e.g. PC/Internet, telephone, etc.).

    The technology has roots going back to the 1940s. It has been

    used by power utilities for simple telemetering and control of electrical

    equipment in their networks. What is new is the integration of activities

    outside the building with those inside the building at a much higher bandwidth, 2.5 mbps or higher this means voice and data transmission via

    the mains supply voltage network right through to every power socket in

    the building, as well as in the reverse direction at high speed.

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