Government Lays Groundwork for Broadband Over Power Lines


A report by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), spurred on by a new initiative by President Bush, is laying out a proposal to further advance the entry of broadband over power lines (BPL) to the U.S. marketplace. The NTIA report offers solutions it says ensures such communication won’t interfere with existing radio frequencies.

The report was issued April 27, a day after President Bush called for “technical standards to make possible new broadband technologies, such as the use of high-speed communication directly over power lines.” It’s unclear what BPL will mean for the electronic security industry, but it does hold promise as another means of communication for central stations and alarm monitoring. A video monitoring system using BPL was demonstrated last July by Consolidated Edison Inc. of New York and other utilities are conducting BPL tests.

“BPL has the potential to turn every electrical outlet into a broadband pipeline,” says Acting NTIA Administrator Michael D. Gallagher. “Establishing responsible ground rules that address radio frequency interference concerns is a critical component of meeting that promise.”

BPL uses electrical distribution lines, overhead or underground, to transmit broadband data to homes and businesses. Because their wiring is physically large, often overhead and extends across entire communities, there has been some concern about BPL interfering with other radio frequencies. In February, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a new set of rules, called Part 15, it says would safeguard against interference. The NTIA report was filed in connection with the Part 15 proceedings.

In its report, the NTIA issues the following solutions to avoid radio interference: a notch solution for the most sensitive and severely impacted systems; local registration of BPL frequency use; intelligent power management; and the use of a Web-based interface for potentially impacted parties. The full report can be found on the NTIA’s Web site at

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