BPL Continues to Rear Its Ugly Head

Broadband over power lines, or BPL, hasn’t been in the news much lately, but make no mistake, there are companies out there still pushing it. Case in point is the article, “Is This the Moment for Broadband Over Power Lines?” by David Schneider, a senior editor for IEEE Spectrum.

Schneider writes:

One reason for the renewed interest in BPL is the Obama administration’s pledge to provide greater Internet access to underserved Americans, even those living in rural areas, where other means of providing broadband typically aren’t economical.

Last February’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide US $2.5 billion in loans and grants through one agency and $4.7 billion through another to expand broadband connections for residents of rural and underserved areas (as well as for public-safety agencies).

I’ve e-mailed my division director and ARRL HQ about this. I think the ARRL has done a good job of protecting our interests in this matter and hope the ham radio community would continue to support them in this battle. For more information on how BPL affects amateur radio (and other radiocommunication services, for that matter) and what you can do about it, visit the ARRL Web page, “Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) and Amateur Radio.”


  1. What it would be interesting to know is how the technical issues of using BPL to provide internet access to remote areas compare with doing it over phone lines. I would have thought if it was uneconomic to do it over the phone, it’s probably going to be uneconomic to do it over power lines. Personally I can’t see why folks in rural areas can’t accept that going without broadband is just another of those things, like not having a local McDonalds, that they have to put up with for the sake of living in the countryside.

  2. David Brodbeck N8SRE says:

    I would think wireless would be more useful in rural areas. I understand the Keweenaw area has a fairly successful wireless ISP. With power lines you run into the same problem you do with phone lines — you need repeaters every X number of miles on lines that may serve only one or two customers, making it uneconomic. With wireless you just need line of sight to the tower and a dish antenna.

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