Broadband over Power Lines

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Ok, hear me out on this one. I'm sitting at my computer in my home office last night, reading articles to help me come up with the next idea for "The e-Business Resource" blog and I came across an article written by Gary Beach, a publisher at CIO.com.

His article talks about a new technology coined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) called BPL or Broadband over Power Lines. BPL is a terms that defines the ability to connect to the Web, via a high-speed Internet connection, through a standard power line. Does this means that you can plug your computer directly into a standard electrical outlet and connect to the Internet? Yes, exactly!

Interesting, I know. I was just as intrigued as you probably are right now so I began to research the Internet for more information on this topic. I came across a slew of information about the future of running broadband over power lines directly to the home and office. This new plug and play technology, as they call it, is aimed to bridge the gap between home users who use dialup vs. those who use Cable and DSL to connect to the Internet. Currently, there are nearly two-thirds of U.S. households who use dialup connections or are not connected online at all... this was an amazing statistic to me but if this is true then I agree there is definitely room for more players to compete with Cable and DSL Internet service providers.

Digital power lines are believed to carry data at approximately 500 kilobits and 3 megabits per second, the same speed of DSL or Cable, if not better. The PBL technology works like this: First, the data is carried by the way of fiber optic or telephone lines to surpass the high voltage power lines. At that point the data is then streamed into an electrical power grid, which sends the data downstream onto medium-to-low voltage lines. Special devices will then relay and repackage the data because the signals will only make it so far on their own. The signals can then be accessed via a direct connection through their standard power lines that run to their house or via a wireless connection... and finally, POOF ... directly to a standard electrical outlet in your home.

So it probably seems to be years away doesn't it? Actually, broadband over power lines (BPL) is currently used in Cincinnati and its surrounding areas to over 50,000 homes, to over 700 households in Manassas, Virginia, as a trial by EarthLink in Manhattan, New York and to increasingly more cities as time goes on. By the time you read this article there will be more cities developing the ability to install PBL directly to the homes in their area.
According to an article on internetnews.com, Google (Quote, Chart), Goldman Sachs and the Hearst Corporation have teamed up and invested $100 million in Current Communications Group, which is providing BPL in the Cincinnati area together with Midwest utility Cinergy. Current Communications, a Germantown, Md.-based company providing broadband over power lines (BPL), said the investment would offer consumers a faster alternative outlet for voice, video and data services.

So as we can see, the ways in which we connect to the Internet is constantly changing before our very eyes. What does BPL hold for our future? Since our electrical outlets will allow us to gain access to the Internet, does this mean our computer can now talk to our microwave or television? Can we simply brew a pot of coffee with the click of a mouse? Sounds like that could very well be possible. Only time will tell.

Daryl H. Bryant is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Horizons, helps his clients achieve online success through search engine marketing and customized website solutions.

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