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January 2, 2011

Liverpool to trial 200Mbs powerline broadband

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by Brian Turner

It has been announced that Liverpool will trial 200Mbs broadband access for 1,000 homes in the city via powerline technology.

One of the big ideas a few years ago was that it could be possible to receive broadband at superfast speeds using existing power cables.

Broadband signals would effectively ride the electricity grid at different wavelengths to electricity signals, allowing for instant high-speed broadband access for everybody.

Unfortunately, progress stalled due to a combination of technical and regulatory challenges.

Even if these could be successfully tackled, costs were seen as prohibitive in the days when ISP’s were offering low-cost basic broadband packages.

Now the broadband landscape has changed, not least due to the government’s recent white paper on “Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future” - and the retro-installation of new power meters.

The fact that every home in the UK is expected to be fitted with a smart meter - showing more detailed information on electricity and gas use - means that fitting costs for powerline broadband are immediately reduced.

Liverpool City Council has therefore taken the decision to trial the technology from Powerline Communications under Project SmartGrid, which aims to install this in new build development from Plus Dane Homes, alongside the new smart meters.

However, even if successful, doubts remain as to whether powerline broadband technology could be effectively rolled out across the UK at a national level.

There are still concerns about possible interference affecting radio services, not least normal broadcasting as well as air traffic communications.

Even still, with remote rural areas still plagued by limited broadband access, this could still become an option on the table for considerations in certain instances.

Story link: Liverpool to trial 200Mbs powerline broadband

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