BPL: Broadband Over Powerlines
Those old DSL and cable networks ran Internet through copper or other metal wires—so why not the metal wire of a power line? Anywhere where someone might be wanting Internet access, there will be a corresponding power grid to supply the local populace. No new wires needed, no new infrastructure, just taking advantage of the old. This is known as BPL, Broadband over Powerline.
However, as promising as an idea as it might sound, there are a few problems with BPL connections, if ones that are all perfectly possible to fix.
The first, and most pressing, is the problem of the transformers. The transformer will block any data transmission, requiring a repeater to be placed on the transformer to continue the transmission. This is more of a problem in power grids like that of the United States, where there is typically one transformer per house, translating into an extremely expensive overhaul. In more European style power grids, typically a single transformer powers ten, twenty, a hundred houses, making it far more cost effective to install the transformer.
Another problem is with the frequencies that must be used in BPL. The frequencies that are optimum for transmitting data, that is, the frequencies that suffer the least interference in such a noisy environment, happen to be the ones that are licensed for both amateur radio and international. You can imagine some of the outcry. Power lines are unshielded, meaning that unwanted signals can be picked up and interfere with each other. Shielding the powerlines is the obvious solution, though that would require a massive, and very expensive, overhaul of the current power grid.
This technology also has potential to be used to connect individual computers on a home network, not just to the greater portion of the Internet. Imagine the convenience without having dedicated cords or a dodgy wireless signal to deal with. Anything and everything on a single network, connected via the same outlet that powers them.
To many, BPL has enough advantages over old DSL and cable wired connections that they are beginning to replace them. The buzz is out, BPL standards have been set, and the technology is already beginning to be implemented in fits and starts. Be ready to start seeing this technology widely available for your wired networks in the near future.