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200Mbps shock for broadband over powerlines

Utility provider down under trials megafast web delivery

Internet downloads at over 100 times current speeds by plugging into a power socket may shock even the biggest broadband buffs, but a trial using household powerlines has made it a reality.

A new 200Mbps technology called Broadband over Powerlines (BPL) has been tested successfully by Energy Australia in Newcastle, Australia. Initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive following the three-month trial, which finished last month.

An Energy Australia spokesperson said the trial was successful, but cautioned that it was still long way before anything would be commercialised, if at all.

However, telco industry analyst Paul Budde, CEO of Budde.com, was optimistic. Budde had been invited by the utility to see the Newcastle trial.

He said several large apartment/commercial buildings in a city block in the East of the city had been BPL-enabled with the 200Mbps equipment, with ISP services provided by Ipera.

In a research note on the topic Budde said Ipera runs a fibre optic ring in the city, while Energy Australia uses this network and "takes over with BPL where those fibre cables end in substations around the city".

"The general plan is to drive fibre optic as deeply as possible into the network and use BPL as a 'first mile' technology to connect to the users. Once in the building any power point can be used to connect the BPL modem."

Budde told PC World there were several reasons why BPL was a goer, and not just hype.

First of all, the BPL technology, known as DS2, "works". Secondly, it is a viable alternative to existing broadband delivery, and could bring prices down.

And most importantly, the utilities have made a commitment to support it: "Utilities are slow moving animals, so if they go public [about their BPL plans], they are serious."


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