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Smart Grid Brings Powerline Broadband Back?

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the more-stuff-less-wires dept.

Communications 120

judgecorp writes "The UK is giving powerline broadband a serious trial once again, in up to 1000 homes in Liverpool. The technology was once hailed as an alternative to ADSL, delivered over the electricity mains, but lost out because of radio interference and price. The UK government is backing the installation of smart meters across the country, and it seems a new generation of 200Mbps powerline broadband could ride on that, cutting the installation costs. What about the interference issues? A recent FAQ from the regulator, Ofcom, says it has not found any evidence of a breach of EMC rules, but is keeping an eye on it."

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frist pots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765146)

bitches!

Re:frist pots (-1, Troll)

MichaelKristopeit360 (1970536) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765358)

holy fuck baby jesus!

Summary goodness (2)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765156)

sed 's/eficdence/evidence/' summary

So wrong it's not even right. Can we get wiki style volunteer editors?

Mod me trool (1)

dogsbreath (730413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766712)

sed 's/eficdence/evidence/' summary

So wrong it's not even right. Can we get wiki style volunteer editors?

Your aint nuthine butt a gamma natssi.

Re:Summary goodness (2)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34767330)

eficdence n. inf. Evidence that is entirely fictitious.

(Maybe I just made this up. I only have eficdence that this is a word in actual use.)

Eficdence (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765160)

Yeah, I haven't found any of that either, whatever it is.

200 Mbps (1)

adeft (1805910) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765184)

Sounds pretty good to me, when can I benefit from this in the good ol' USA? p.s. "evicdence" was pretty rough.

Re:200 Mbps (1)

hodet (620484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765260)

I wouldn't hold my breath. There are all kinds of powerful folks for who this would not be in their best interest.

Re:200 Mbps (2)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765284)

Like ham radio operators. You know we're secretly controlling the world.

Re:200 Mbps (1)

hodet (620484) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765344)

Didn't know the ham radio lobby group was so powerful. :-P

Re:200 Mbps (2)

The Altruist (1448701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34767792)

KE5VEU checking in. Here in the States, giving up the Hams isn't an easy thing to do. When another Katrina/Ike/YourNameHere strikes, who still owns the air? We do. Phone lines are dead. Power is out. Who's still on? We are.

Re:200 Mbps (2)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765516)

Like ham radio operators. You know we're secretly controlling the world.

You could. [technewsdaily.com]

Re:200 Mbps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765778)

Just curious if you knew how silly your signature is. If so, nice joke.

Re:200 Mbps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34766152)

Just curious if you knew how silly it is to dish out opinion as an AC. If so, nice joke.

Re:200 Mbps (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766316)

>>>powerful folks for who this would not be in their best interest.

Yep. Like those 50 million or so who enjoy listening to the radio or television. Powerline interference would demolish Shortwave and AM, limit FM/HD reception to just a few miles, and drown out channels 2-13 on the TV.

Re:200 Mbps (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#34767320)

I'm confused, if the powerlines are not currently interfering with OTA TV and radio, why would connecting to the internet over those same wires suddenly change things?

Re:200 Mbps (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 3 years ago | (#34767522)

As I understand it, instead of broadcasting a nice easy-to-filter 60Hz tone over giant antennas, once you add 256Mbps signal you're all of a sudden broadcasting irregular noise throughout the spectrum.

Re:200 Mbps (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#34769678)

And thank you too.

Re:200 Mbps (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34769128)

Current powerlines broadcast a nice clean 60 hertz wave which is faaaar below radio/TV frequencies. But when you overlay them with digital data, then they start broadcasting all kinds of high-frequency noise that trample all over the SW/AM/FM bands. DSL and cable lines are shielded to block that leakage but powerlines are not.

Re:200 Mbps (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#34769602)

Ah, thanks for that explanation.

Re:200 Mbps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765930)

Is this not the same as EPB's "Smart Grid" that offers up to 1Gbps to all members of its 600 square mile area in Chattanooga, TN?

Re:200 Mbps (1)

Tisha_AH (600987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34767182)

I have worked with EPB on some other comms projects. Their system is fiber to the home.

You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

kazade84 (1078337) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765220)

There was a Slashdot post earlier about forking the Internet, and mesh networking was shot down pretty quick because of large distances between nodes. Could networking over powerlines be a solution?

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765316)

There was a Slashdot post earlier about forking the Internet, and mesh networking was shot down pretty quick because of large distances between nodes. Could networking over powerlines be a solution?

I doubt it. Broadband over powerlines is no different than broadband over copper. It will still be controlled by mega-corporations and will be able to impose the same restrictions as your current ISP. Simply replacing the physical media does not address the net neutrality issue. IMO, the only way this can be addressed is through laws which protect consumers and guarantee free (as in speech) and open access to the internet.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765440)

I agree with everything you say but I don't think that was what the GP post asked. It could work as a type of mesh, and it could certainly solve the issue with broadband making it to almost everyone who purchases electricity, but I wonder about the difficulty of running internet over unshielded wire that is already at 15+ kV bare minimum. I honestly think OTA internet (like the type which is being put in place here) is the future.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (3, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765488)

Its not a cure, but its a start.

I'm not sure how the UK is, but here in the US:
Comcast has an interest in blocking Netflix so they can sell me cable and Vonage so they can sell me phone service.
ATT has an interest in blocking Netflix so they can sell me cable (UVerse) Vonage so they can sell me phone service.
Eon has an interest in blocking ????? so they can sell me electricity.

Power companies main advantage is that they're another wire to the home, they have the infrastructure already. They'll have to overcome some hurdles since their current network engineers are in a classic internal support role, that is they have computer networks to support their main power delivery operations rather than supporting routing bits and bytes to the actual customers. The advantage to the consumer is that the power company is used to providing a (metered) pipe and thats about it. They have no other competitive issues because you can't power your house with an internet connection.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765614)

They have no other competitive issues because you can't power your house with an internet connection.

That is until Comcast/AT+T/Evil-ISP buys/blocks Eon.

Until you *cannot* be a content provider *AND* an ISP, Net Neutrality is going the way of the dodo.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

cacba (1831766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765976)

The problem is a lack of competition. When ISPs can act like monopolies they will maximize profits and charge each customer what they are willing to pay. Netflix who needs the internet and is making gobs of money can be held for ransom. Yahoo on the other hand can be given it at near cost. Now thats innovation.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (2)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34767006)

Here in the US, virtually every consumer has to deal with a power company monopoly. I'm not sure that running into the arms of another monopoly is really going to save us from limited competition.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765752)

The advantage to the consumer is that the power company is used to providing a (metered) pipe and thats about it. They have no other competitive issues because you can't power your house with an internet connection.

Today, sure. Back in 1984 when I got my first modem AT&T had no residential video service to compete with me.

It only takes a few months for, say, General Electric/NBC to buy my local power company, and then guess what happens to my netflix access?

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765834)

That all depends, here our electricity is provided by a public utility. But if you're in a part of the country where it was deregulated and/or the utility is private, then you could see all sorts of problems like that.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765926)

That all depends, here our electricity is provided by a public utility. But if you're in a part of the country where it was deregulated and/or the utility is private, then you could see all sorts of problems like that.

Thats the point. My telephone was provided by a public utility. Now they want to block netflix/itunes/etc because they are also providing video.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34767066)

And Ma Bell was a horrific enterprise. They would have found a way to block Netflix/iTunes/etc. even if they didn't compete with them.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#34768232)

The bad part is that broadband over power lines is just a very inefficient way to go. No one ever strung up the power lines and internal power with the idea of keeping a clean signal. The signal quality is much worse than DSL, but at least with DSL it's point-to-point from your home to a remote modem. Power lines are shared... The most traction comes from using it to communicate with meters or power equipment but that's a very low bandwidth use.

Re:You know that Internet 2 that everyone wanted? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765806)

Unless there's been radical changes to it in recent years the answer is definitely not. One of the problems with it is that it doesn't handle going through transformers very well, if at all. And if you figure out how to get it to go through the transformers then you've got a serious security problem on your hands.

All in all, I wouldn't expect this to take off any time soon.

eficdence? (3, Funny)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765230)

All this summary needs is "Posted from my iPhone"...

Re:eficdence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765350)

All this summary needs is "Posted from my iPhone"...

signed Sarah P.

Re:eficdence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765500)

No, if it had that, the iPhone would have autocorrected it to an unrelated word like "evicting".

Ofcom (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765266)

"A recent FAQ from the regulator, Ofcom, says it has not found any evidence of a breach of EMC rules, but is keeping an eye on it."

I'll just translate this from bullshit to English:

"A recent FAQ from the regular, Ofcom, says it has not found that it will cause any problems for commercial applications where companies generate a lot of revenue, but that HAMs can go and fuck themselves with their now useless antennae."

Re:Ofcom (-1, Flamebait)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765320)

but that HAMs can go and fuck themselves with their now useless antennae."

I thought that's what HAMs did anyway

Smart meters are a scam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765300)

They cost a fortune to install & maintain, much more than any reduced electrical consumption.

Re:Smart meters are a scam! (4, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765390)

They cost a fortune to install & maintain, much more than any reduced electrical consumption.

The real scam of it, is the purpose is to create a confuseopoly in the billing department.

Rather than $X per month for a meter, and $Y/KWH, the want all the customer friendly transparency of a cell phone contract.

"OH I'm sorry sir, your monthly contract is $200 for 2000 prime KWH and every KWH over that is charged at a very reasonable $50/KWH. I'm sorry your bill is $2000 this month. Would you like to sign a new 5 year contract for more KWH, perhaps $400 for 4100 KWH?"

"I'm in a friends and family electrical contract, so only one of us can run our air conditioner at any instant, or else they bill all of us triple rates"

"Why am I running my space heater on the patio? Well, I've got a 1000 KHW contract, its the end of the month and I've only used 950 KWH, so I figured no sense wasting my money"

F those money grubing scum.

Re:Smart meters are a scam! (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765560)

In Houston, TX I have (as of this moment in my ZIP code) 259 service providers to contract out my electricity. Price per kWh ranges from 6.9 cents to 15.3 cents. I seriously doubt all 259 will work together to screw customers over with shady contracts. This isn't the cell phone industry were talking about.

http://www.powertochoose.org/ [powertochoose.org]

Re:Smart meters are a scam! (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765622)

Correction: I count 47 providers (I read the spreadsheet wrong, sorry). Still, not bad.

Re:Smart meters are a scam! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765998)

Are they marketers and resellers, or do they do their own billing?

I'm sure there are well over 259 places to buy cell phones in my city, but different wallpaper in the store or different kiosk in the mall doesn't mean the actual contracts are oriented toward anything but screwing over the customer.

You are almost certainly selecting 1 of 47 marketing operations not 47 "providers" aka 47 electrical power plants.

Re:Smart meters are a scam! (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766228)

Correct.

There's only one TDSP (Transmission and Distribution Service Provider) servicing my area called CenterPoint Energy. However, I can choose one of 47 REPs (Retail Electric Providers) that handle customer service and billing. They each offer different contracts and pricing as well. It is these REPs that are in direct competition with each other (in theory).

Re:Smart meters are a scam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34767594)

Don't forget about the power companies instituting peak-hour metering, appliances shutdowns, rolling blackouts, etc.

Re:Smart meters are a scam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765624)

The important reason for smart meters is to allow our masters to ration our energy usage to ensure we don't use enough become an inconvenience. Unrestricted usage of energy resources is a privilege reserved for the masters.

A slight order of magnitude problem (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765304)

UK government is backing the installation of smart meters across the country, and it seems a new generation of 200Mbps powerline broadband could ride on that

OK so lets take a look at a typical smart meter, how bout a PCR423 from nationpower.

It has to be mounted inside the building (which probably pisses off the fire department to no end) and runs at 1200 baud IR, 2400 baud RS485 (for an external modem), a mysterious RF link, and a GPRS/CDMA interface that is probably vaguely Kindle/whispernet like. No options for commo over power lines, but we can guess "somewhere around a K/s" since thats all thats required and all the other interfaces run about that fast, more or less.

And we'll run 200 M/s over that size of link, what, using compression or something?

I'm just saying there's got to be more to the story, as the app that fractional gig internet access is supposedly going to "piggyback" is probably (and appropriately) running about 1980's phone modem speed.

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765342)

I don't think they mean that the smart meters themselves will be used for networking, I think they mean that the efforts to install proper powerline networking equipment at the electricity company's end can be shared with the efforts to install infrastructure to talk to the smart meters in the same locations.

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765464)

I don't think they mean that the smart meters themselves will be used for networking, I think they mean that the efforts to install proper powerline networking equipment at the electricity company's end can be shared with the efforts to install infrastructure to talk to the smart meters in the same locations.

Right, my whole point was the infrastructure for electric meters is best engineered at the "K" level, and they're trying to convince us they'll piggyback a "G" level service on top of it. Total BS.

A similar six order of magnitude malfunction can be seen in this line of reasoning. "I'm taking a glass of iced tea out in the backyard to drink. Both a glass of tea and an inground swimming pool are conceptually similar in that both are concave objects without a top that are full of liquid, I may as well install an inground swimming pool at the same time as I carry my glass of iced tea outside, since they are such similar engineering tasks"

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765518)

To put it another way, it'd be like the phone company trying to sell you a power service using the current supplied on the phone lines. The infrastructure just doesn't exist. The article doesn't seem to provide enough info to distinguish what exactly they intend to do, although it implies that they'd just use the powerline meters. It must just be bad reporting in this instance.

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765940)

Sigh...no, no, no. How about an analogy - think about distributed computing or grid computing with a central controller, or a monitoring node, whatever you like to call it. You can take the information from these meters and send it up to the aggregator level. (This is not speculation - this is what is being done today.) The aggregator can then, e.g., run intelligent demand response programs.

Here's where I speculate. Imagine now you have all those aggregators - tens or hundreds, depending on where you are in the U.S. or the E.U. - sending that information up to the System Operator (an ISO or RTO in the U.S.). Now you can analyze that data and start to be a bit more clever in your transmission planning program (which is looking out between five and fifteen years).

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34769720)

Right, my whole point was the infrastructure for electric meters is best engineered at the "K" level, and they're trying to convince us they'll piggyback a "G" level service on top of it. Total BS.

No, that's not what they're trying to convince us of.

They're figuring that if they have to implement data-over-powerline anyway to support smart meters etc., they might as well implement it at as high a speed as possible and sell the excess to the customer. Instead of installing hardware that will do 1200 baud everywhere, install 200Mb. The harware costs are the small part of the equation. It's the labor and time doing the install that will cost. You have to spend the labor costs anyway, might as well spend a bit more for better hardware and do it once.

The other thing they are trying to convince us of is that having large wire antenna arrays spewing RF energy all over the countryside will not be in any way detrimental to the licensed and unlicensed intentional radiator users. I.e., AM/FM radio, TV, ham, CB, marine, international BC, maritime, OTH radar, public safety, commercial, and a thousand other users.

I'm a member of RSGB (Radio Society Great Britain) and I'm amazed at how poorly OFCOM protects the ham users they regulate. Maybe they're trying to emulate the FCC on this one.

... I may as well install an inground swimming pool at the same time as I carry my glass of iced tea outside, since they are such similar engineering tasks.

Would you like to try for a car analogy? You'd probably find a better one. Yes, if it cost the same amount to carry a glass of iced tea into your backyard as to make an iced-tea manufacturing plant there, you'd have a good analogy.

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (2)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765420)

It has to be mounted inside the building (which probably pisses off the fire department to no end)

I know thats different in other places, but I never saw a power meter OUTSIDE a house over here and no firefighter is pissed of about that fact.

Power cables run directly from the main branch below the street into the basements along with water, phone and cable tv.

This never has been an issue with the firefighters I know of. They are more concerned with the rising numbers of photovoltaic cells and are suggesting easily accessible breakers for them.

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765638)

I know thats different in other places, but I never saw a power meter OUTSIDE a house over here and no firefighter is pissed of about that fact.

Power cables run directly from the main branch below the street into the basements along with water, phone and cable tv.

This never has been an issue with the firefighters I know of.

Oh they're probably pissed, but even if they change the building code its not going to fix itself instantly so, don't worry be happy.

The logic is, if the house is on fire and you intend to fill it with water and firemen, by far the fastest and safest way to pull electrical power to the site is to pull the meter. Every other option, like giant fiberglass bolt cutters, calling a lineman, etc, is slower, more expensive, less safe...

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765884)

We have the meters inside, but a box with a fuse per household outside. You can cut the power to any floor by taking the fuse out.

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765918)

It's not a good practice, and it's definitely not something that the building codes of the present and future are going to allow. It's similar to gas meters. Around here they were placed inside for whatever reason, that only changed a couple years ago when the utility went through and replaced their mains and lines with high pressure ones. At that time they came in and put in their new meter outside.

One of the big problems is that without the government subsidizing it, they typically have to wait for the equipment to amortize before they replace it.

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (1)

n6gn (851311) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765848)

Don't confuse the user connection with the 'backhaul' which is the over-power-line part. However, also don't confuse 200 Mbps on a lab bench with a lot less than that over a single hop on real lines having excess noise, attenuation. The 200 Mbps hardware may only need 20 MHz of spectrum in the 4-80 MHz region to support that raw rate but after a few links are chained together throughput will likely be a LOT lower than that. Now aggregate 1000 homes onto that backhaul and you may scarcely have enough performance. Fortunately, the smart-meter requirements for average data rate and latency are probably very small so it might all work fine - except for the ingress/egress radiation problems from the line which could be a show stopper. Too bad they don't move it all up to microwave-over-power-line and avoid the interference problem at the same time they get 10X or more capacity improvement. disclaimer: I resemble the above remark. n6gn

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766446)

Don't think I've ever seen an electricity meter outside in the UK. Gas, sure. Electricity? Never.

The weather around here would mean that if you needed to work on it, you'd either need to bolt a tent to the front of the house or you'd only be able to work about 120 days of the year.

Re:A slight order of magnitude problem (2)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34767524)

It has to be mounted inside the building (which probably pisses off the fire department to no end)

Here in the UK it's usual to have your meter inside the building, and I've never heard the fire services complain about it. Gas meters are sometimes located outside in newer buildings, but I've never seen electricity anywhere other than inside.

I'm just saying there's got to be more to the story, as the app that fractional gig internet access is supposedly going to "piggyback" is probably (and appropriately) running about 1980's phone modem speed.

You're missing the point, which is dual:

1. The electricity company's are going to be digging up every road, replacing all their existing equipment, and generally overhauling their entire consumer distribution network anyway, so adding a new capability to it at the same time will be less expensive than doing so separately.

2. The UK parliament will be handling legislation to specify how the smart metering rollout will work, so it will be easy for the government (who have expressed an interest in the past in finding a way of increasing broadband availability other than paying off BT to provide it to everyone) to add a section to the bill that will require them to provide the infrastructure for broadband at the same time.

Nobody's saying that this is going to be a free consequence of the switch to smart meters, just that doing both at the same time is a better idea than doing either individually.

Electricity usage monitoring (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765314)

Here in Houston, CenterPoint Energy provides the utility. As of a few weeks ago, I've noticed that my energy provider keeps a record of how much energy I've used each day on the hour. It's pretty damned cool that I can review this data. I can even spot the areas where I've cooked (electric, no gas) at that time of day. What I'm must curious about is *how* each meter uploads the data.

I've been informed by others that maybe it uses a form of powerline broadband with the new meters. Is this true?

Re:Electricity usage monitoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765466)

Yes it is true. There is broadband in the SmartGRID weather or not it becomes a public service. An allocation of the lines bandwidth/frequency is used on the smartgrid to relay information on efficiency and usage in compatible devices (usually with zigbee chip).

Re:Electricity usage monitoring (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765532)

Here in Houston, CenterPoint Energy provides the utility. As of a few weeks ago, I've noticed that my energy provider keeps a record of how much energy I've used each day on the hour. It's pretty damned cool that I can review this data. I can even spot the areas where I've cooked (electric, no gas) at that time of day. What I'm must curious about is *how* each meter uploads the data.

I've been informed by others that maybe it uses a form of powerline broadband with the new meters. Is this true?

The term you don't know to google for is "Zigbee". Google for "Zigbee Houston CenterPoint Energy" and you'll pages of links explaining how there is a zigbee (which is vaguely like long distance bluetooth) link from many meters to a poletop device that connects via some vaguely wifi-ish radios and/or GSM/CDMA cellular data service (like a kindle whispernet) back to the office. You can find the resume of the guy whom set up the cellular side links, if you search carefully.

Not exactly powerline broadband. More like somewhat slow radio.

Re:Electricity usage monitoring (1)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765858)

This appears to be what Duke is using in Cincinnati. At about the time my smart gas and electric meters were installed, a device went on the power pole with two antennas labeled "gas/electric."

Re:Electricity usage monitoring (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766086)

I googled around and Duke uses software called "Echelon" (yeah as if that word doesn't have a negative history) and the press release rags have stories listing zigbee based links as a competitor of that Echelon system. Which may not longer be the case if they added zigbee support to Echelon.

Similar design, seems to be a different technology interface.

Re:Electricity usage monitoring (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765938)

You don't quite have that one right. Centerpoint Energy's smart metering system is the OpenWay system from Itron, which uses the unlicensed 900 Mhz band to form mesh network with each of its nodes that then connects back up to pole top boxes with either a cellular or ethernet backhaul.

Zigbee is also a feature of these meters, but is used to connect to in home devices, like thermostats, to notify user about varying rates at different times of day and such.

Re:Electricity usage monitoring (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766598)

OK very interesting.

I was going off employee resumes and some press releases. I had the impression the wifi-ish meshy thing was on the poles and the backup to it was the cellular and the link into the house was the zigbee. There certainly are several meter manufacturers that like zigbee.

If you have better sources (like, maybe you're one of the online resumes I read?) then I guess you're right, otherwise we have to compare source quality to figure which interpretation is more likely to be correct. Otherwise it'll be hard to select an interpretation.

Re:Electricity usage monitoring (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766290)

I wondered what ever happened to the idea floating around about wiring all the meters. I guess this zigbee thing took over.

(Years and years ago there was the idea that the power company could save money in the long run on human meter-readers by running a wire to every meter for smart metering, and there was talk that that they could run a broadband wire for about the same cost as any other wire. The argument was that not only would they save money in the long run, they would also be able to generate extra income by selling broadband service to any home they wired.)

Re:Electricity usage monitoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765718)

I've been informed by others that maybe it uses a form of powerline broadband with the new meters. Is this true?

All the meters I've seen talk to cell towers.

interference (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765354)

Sooooooo, what exactly will Ofcoms explanation be when all of a sudden I can't get a single station on my short-wave radio? Did they all go off air, at the same time?
And every HAM in Britain's equipment suddenly broke due to magic?
And all the CB's pick up this weird noise due to pranksters broadcasting it on ever single channel?

This is beyond a joke now, Ofcom exists exactly so this sort of shit doesn't happen, and I think the issue has now progressed to the point where some individuals need to face criminal charges.

Re:interference (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765562)

Sooooooo, what exactly will Ofcoms explanation be when all of a sudden ....
And every HAM in Britain's equipment suddenly broke due to magic?...

I am not sure of your regulations, but here the line will be "And every facebook / youtube / netflix couch potatoe in the neighborhood screams when I key my 1500 watt legal limit ham radio amplifier (now required to be heard over the noise, I used to do 5 watts QRP)"

Re:interference (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765986)

Ahhh, but you know you're not allowed to cause harmful interference; so, the onus will be on you to resolve the problem...

Re:interference (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34769326)

Ahhh, but you know you're not allowed to cause harmful interference; so, the onus will be on you to resolve the problem...

In the US most consumer devices must not cause interfere to Amateur Radio operations, but Amateur Radio equipment is allowed priority regarding interfere with most consumer devices. This is because the Amateur Radio Service and the experienced radio operators are considered valuable national resources, particularly in emergency/disaster scenarios.

Hams have generally cultivated a culture of being considerate & helpful to those nearby who experience RFI (Radio Frequency Interference). Hams will typically go out of their way to help resolve common consumer interference issues, but they are not required to do so under the laws & regulations in most cases.

Had a neighbor once with a cranial-rectal impaction who filed a complaint with the FCC against me. They guy was so clueless he described me as a CB radio operator. He was convinced in his own mind that I had to quit operating because I interfered with his crappy B&W portable TV (this was the early '80s) he had in his garage to watch football. I even offered to help him choose & install RF filters, etc to no avail. He insisted I must stop transmitting.

Based on his description of me to the FCC as a "CB radio operator", they sent out a monitoring van and a Federal Marshall in case illegal CB equipment like illegal CB transmitter amplifiers needed to be seized. Of course, as soon as they arrived and realized I was a Ham they tried to explain the situation to the neighbor. The neighbor wasn't buying it, and actually threatened to "cut that $&%@# antenna lead" if "you useless Feds don't enforce the law!!".

The neighbor got a stern lecture from the Federal Marshall that not only would he open himself to trespass, property damage, and vandalism charges, he could also face federal felony charges arising from deliberately sabotaging federally-authorized emergency communications.

I never heard another word from the clueless neighbor.

Strat

Re:interference (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34769996)

In the US most consumer devices must not cause interfere to Amateur Radio operations, but Amateur Radio equipment is allowed priority regarding interfere with most consumer devices. This is because the Amateur Radio Service and the experienced radio operators are considered valuable national resources, particularly in emergency/disaster scenarios.

It's actually simpler than that. Unlicensed users (most consumer devices) must not cause interference to, and must accept interference from, ANY licensed user. That means if you get a baby monitor that picks up the police, tough noogies for you. If the police start picking up your baby monitor, tough noogies for you. It's not just ham.

Further, secondary licensed users must accept interference from, and not cause interference to, primary users. For example, the 440MHz ham band in the US is secondary to the military. In California, a lot of hams were required to stop using, or to reduce the power of, a lot of repeaters in that band because the Air Force has over-the-horizon radar that operates in the band and it was being interfered with.

The reason hams get to keep ANY of the spectrum as secondary or primary users is because of the list of reasons in 47CFR97.1, which includes emergency communications, but once the spectrum is granted and the user is licensed, that becomes the reason for the protection from interference.

So, the point remains, if I have to boost power to maintain communications because of noise from BPL, 1) BPL is creating interference as in unintentional (and thus unlicensed) radiator and is IN THE WRONG, and 2) if my comms wipes out the BPL for an entire city, well, tough noogies. If you can somehow prove I am doing it willfully and maliciously, THEN you have some standing to stop me, but that will be very hard to prove.

Re:interference (1)

teevoh (866693) | more than 3 years ago | (#34769816)

How is your 1500 watt transmitter going to help you overcome the reception noise on your end? It's not and you're going to just piss off the neighborhood and spend $4,000+ on equipment to do it.

Re:interference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34767216)

Ofcom exists exactly so this sort of shit doesn't happen

no it doesn't... that's what the Radiocommunications Agency was for... Ofcom is there to sell expensive licenses to mobile phone providers and make rules to prop up the digital set top box industry ;)

How does the data get around the transformers? (1)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765484)

Has someone actually figured out how to get high (data carrying) frequencies past the transformers?

If not, the power companies will still need to run fiber our to the transformer anyway - and if you are doing that, why not go all the way and install a passive optical network terminal and run fiber right from there to the premise?

I suspect powerline data will be one of those things that is always 5 years away.

-ted

Re:How does the data get around the transformers? (1)

popeye44 (929152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765734)

When the US was looking at this a bit harder. It was said some Japanese scientists had figured out how to get data past the transformers. (up/down)
As this was one of the largest hurdles it stuck in my head. I believe it has been taken care of and if I recall it was fairly elegant and cheap.

I'd really like a third broadband option.. or even a fourth that is similar in speeds to Cable. AT&T can't even hope to compete with my current Comcast speeds. "unless they do fttp"

At&t can do 18mbps as long as I leave the line alone and don't watch TV on it at the same time. Meh.

Re:How does the data get around the transformers? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766024)

You've probably got a third option, Satellite, and it's probably more useful than powerline will be.

The bigger issue is that we don't have the ISP as a public utility and we don't have the ISP as a free market either. Around here Qwest charges roughly $50 a month for 5mpbs but in some markets they supposedly offer 40mbps for $55 a month. Which doesn't make sense from a technical standpoint as I'm within a few short miles of a major Internet Exchange Point.

At this point, the connection speeds available haven't changed in over a decade and despite vague promises by Qwest to do something about it, they only bother to make those promises when the city starts talking about creating its own fiber network. Personally, I think we should take away their right of way and contract it out to somebody that actually cares to offer the service we deserve.

Re:How does the data get around the transformers? (1)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765896)

They convert the signal to optic and then convert it back to an electric signal on the low side (115/230V) of the transformer. The optic connection is to eliminate any possibility that the high distribution voltage (say, 13,000 V) would bleed over to the low voltage side. We have had it for some time here in Cincinnati.

Re:How does the data get around the transformers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765952)

What about some sort of filter network (essentially just a suitable capacitor) each end of a line running from the primary to the secondary? The RF would be so many orders of magnitude higher in frequency and lower in power then the AC I would have thought this would work.

Re:How does the data get around the transformers? (1)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766570)

Sorry, a capacitor is just too dangerous. If it were to short out, the high voltage (13,000 V) would pass through to the low voltage lines (115 V) which would burn up houses and kill people.

Re:How does the data get around the transformers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34766806)

I don't see how 2 metal plates in an oil bath is any more or less likely to short out than any other part of the distribution system. Transformers can and do short out and exploded with surprising regularity.

Also local distribution voltage in the UK is 11kV, with 230V P-E (nominal) secondary, while I'm being somewhat condescending.

Re:How does the data get around the transformers? (2)

htdrifter (1392761) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766210)

This has been "going to happen" since, at least, the 1940s. At least once a decade someone reinvents the idea and creates a lot of interest. Then it dies again for a while.

The entire power grid is an RF choke. RF over the power lines works until it gets to a transformer. That's a good thing because it reduces impulse noise which can play havoc with electronic equipment. Fast rise time impulse noise on power lines is a problem in electronic equipment and instrumentation.

Who cares about radio? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765548)

Nobody uses radio for anything anymore. We have cellphones and internet now. There's no reason to hold back superior new technology because of old bullshit!
Fuck em, give us our internet!

Re:Who cares about radio? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765676)

Nobody uses radio for anything anymore.

The funny part is my water meter is read by a simple low power RF system... So I have the option of electricity and electro-internet OR running water. Hmmm.

Re:Who cares about radio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765804)

Convert the meter to use a 3G cell system. Problem solved!

Re:Who cares about radio? (3, Informative)

JimMcc (31079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765932)

I know. I know. Don't feed the trolls. But...

In some areas, at least in the USA, the infrastructure is not thoroughly built out. We live in a rural area. Recently the EMTs tried to call for a Life Flight for the victim of a serious auto accident. Turns out that the telephone company had taken down the long distance phone link for scheduled maintenance. Cell phones were of no use because the cell tower sends the signal via copper out of the area for switching, then back into the area for connection to the dialed party. Without a switched local copper phone line, the cell system was useless.

If it were not for the ability of the emergency dispatcher to contact the state EOC via RADIO (yes that old fashion technology) the accident victim would most likely have died.

So, yes, radio technology is "old school". But it is an important means of communications, especially in the case of emergencies. That's why the ARRL motto is "When all else fails".

Re:Who cares about radio? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34766552)

And why should this affect the rest of the country? Why should we all be punished because your backwater shithole can't pound enough rocks together to make a decent network? This country is in the shape it is in because we let vocal minorities like you and the ARRL make decisions for the rest of us. Screw you all. Maybe if this "serious auto accident" guy had died then enough people would have thrown a fit and upgraded the network and where ALL of us could benefit, instead of a bunch of wanna-be Delta Operators running around with oversized walkie-talkies causing nothing but problems for the REAL emergency services.

Causes interference to licensed spectrum users (3, Informative)

LaissezFaire (582924) | more than 3 years ago | (#34765714)

Groups like the American Radio Relay League have fought [arrl.org] against this for a long time, as well as recently [arrl.org] , too. There's talk of notching [arrl.org] the BPL, and is done some places, but not everywhere. Since the feds took over the developing ownership rights of the spectrum with the FCC, it's their responsibility to ensure BPL providers aren't interfering with licensed spectrum users.

Re:Causes interference to licensed spectrum users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34767080)

if hams cause too much fuss I can see the regulators just saying fine and taking all the affected bands away. We were given these band because they were useless commercially, now they are not I fully expect them to be taken away again.

I'm a ham, and I'm a member of the RSGB. Personally I think the way the RSGB keeps prodding Ofcom is stupid and they're just giving Ofcom more reasons to become totally fed up with hams and say stuff it.

Re:Causes interference to licensed spectrum users (1)

Brian the Bold (82101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34768214)

I see above a link to the Ofcom FAQ. As usual this is a bit disingenous, where it states that they have not found any breach of the essential requirements of the EMC Regulations, what they fail to state is that in all the tests that have been conducted by independent test houses the peak level of emissions is >30dB above the EN55022 Class B limits, which is a strange definition of EMC compliant in my book.

Ofcom is a politically motivated body, and it doesn't want to rock the boat with the EU and brand PLT devices as illegal in the UK because that would affect european trade and the supply of "harmonised" goods.

The PLT regulation process via the CISPR committee has totally failed, it has not been possible to agree limits that simultaneously allow the PLT devices to work as desired and to meet accepted EMC limits that have been enforced for decades. This process is being restarted, but is likely to be gerrymandered by the European Commission to allow existing non-compliant devices to be sold.

EMC engineers are up in arms about this, if the approach being used were to be extended to other standards then you can forget ever having interoperating non-interfering RF-based systems ever again, ultimately sense might prevail but only after all our wide area systems had been crippled by wideband interference.

We can only hope that this sort of wired networking is out-evolved by other technologies and dies a natural death. Otherwise it's going to be a train wreck.

Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34765906)

Again with the "smart grid". I wouldn't want to be be connected to one, I've heard way too many possible issues. Its proponents tout its "reliability, security, redundancy, etc" while virtually every real world analysis of it I have heard of it says its open to sabotage, buggy, costly and has privacy/homeowner issues. Don't get me wrong, the basic concept of a load balancing, error reporting, at-home-generation compatible power distribution system sounds great. But I fear that the "smart grid" concept is being used by power companies to get the government to pay for the roll-out of peak hour metering, proprietary equipment development, the capability of forcefully shutting off consumer appliances, and grid updates.

How the system will work. (2)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34766040)

Lets assume they are using the +20MHz spectrum. There are a few installations in the US (I believe one is in Colorado). Essentially, a collector is installed on the LV side of a power line transformer. (The transformer acts like a filter to the signal, isolating the connection from other neighborhoods.) This collector is typically connected to another technology as the backhaul. In Europe, it is reasonable to expect 200 homes on a single transformer, so it is very cost-effective for this kind of utilization. In the US, you get only 1-8 homes per transformer, so the cost is fairly large. If you really need to, you can use the MV line to transmit this PLC as a backhaul.

200Mbps is the Maximum amount, used for marketing purposes. In Europe, they can have a couple hundred houses connected to the same LV transformer. This means that you are sharing a 200 Mbps connection with the neighborhood. If you assume 100 homes for one transformer and 50% utilization, a home can get a maximum of 2Mbps (assuming an ideal backhaul). As you all know, this is an "ideal" number. If they try to use PLC as the backhaul (instead of fiber), then you share the bandwidth with other neighborhoods, reducing your datarate well below 1Mbps.

Other considerations: Repeaters.
Underground wiring is another filter. This kind of technology will require a repeater every 100 meters for a full underground installation. Overhead wires need a repeater every 500 meters or so. If you are in a high-noise environment (as in, there is a factory connected to your substation), datarates are decreased and more repeaters are required.

Simply put, the final system will look closer to 500Kbps per home and it will cost a significant amount of money to the homeowner, either through taxes or through required rate hikes on your utility bill.)

So if you want to use PLC to help solve the ISP monopoly, you are looking in the wrong place.

Signed,
A Smart-Grid researcher and designer for the US market

They actually have electricity in Liverpool ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34766734)

They actually have electricity in Liverpool these days? Outstanding! Last time I was there the natives fell to their knees wailing it was the end of the world if they saw a light bulb.

Re:They actually have electricity in Liverpool ? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34767630)

They actually have electricity in Liverpool these days? Outstanding! Last time I was there the natives fell to their knees wailing it was the end of the world if they saw a light bulb.

Well, yeah, it's hard to steal stuff if people can see you. Doesn't mean they don't have electricity.

Brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34766740)

Radio interference? Nah. None of that, thank you. Costly? Pft. It's 'For the Environment' buddy; pay up. Can't get it through on its merits? Hang it on the eco anti-energy agenga! Fast track to success.

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