Could Broadband over Power Lines be the answer to Australia’s ongoing Broadband dilemma? It appears that most practical alternatives of Broadband technology either involve using Telstra’s copper wire network to some degree or breach the too expensive bracket such as that of a ‘Fibre to the Home’ network. If BPL could produce a quality service that suits Australia’s future Broadband requirements, wouldn’t this be the ideal solution we’ve all been hoping for? After all, the infrastructure is already in place which suggests costing to implement such a network would also be considerably cheaper.

So what’s the catch, who’s using it, and why haven’t most Aussies already heard about Broadband over Power Line technology? It’s definitely not something to underestimate that’s for sure, considering it’s caught the attention of an Optus led consortium who are currently trailing the power line alternative with the likes of Integral Energy, Energy Australia and CitiPower.

A CONSORTIUM led by Optus is considering the use of powerlines to deliver broadband to homes, as it prepares to battle Telstra for rights to build a high-speed broadband network.

Broadband over powerlines would provide the G9 with an alternative to fibre-based broadband technology that relied on Telstra’s copper network.

What is BPL?
BPL stands for Broadband over Power Line (aka Power-Line Internet or Powerband) which is a power line communication (PLC) technology for Broadband Internet Access. A special BPL Broadband Modem is all that would be required to receive and send Internet transmissions as PLC can be used to home network computers and other associated peripherals also.

Are BPL services viable for Australia?
On the surface there’s no doubting that BPL services could match or better DSL and Cable Broadband technologies, however electrical network characteristics, signal strengths, operating frequency and Electrical Standards (IEEE) would need to be addressed in order to make a BPL Broadband network a commercially viable option.

Who’s using BPL?
You might be surprised to know that parts of Australia (namely Tasmania) are currently trailing BPL using Japanese ‘Mitsubishi’ technology, and have been doing so for quite sometime. Power line Broadband has been developing in Europe and the USA for many years also with thousands upon thousands of residents taking up BPL services. Download Speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s have been documented suggesting that under the right conditions, BPL technology has more than enough output to produce a Broadband network that can accommodate the guidelines within the government’s high-speed broadband network proposal.

BPL certainly appears to have the technology and infrastructure in place to produce High Speed Broadband Internet services, but until developers can harness and facilitate the powerline communication technology to an acceptable standard, it might be sometime off yet.

Get up to speed and read more on Power Line Communication (PLC) &  Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) at wikipedia by clicking here. Read more on the Optus lead consortium powerline trial at AustralianIT