ABI Research Sees Challenges for Broadband over Power Line and HomePlug/PLC

Trials are in progress worldwide and a variety of equipment is available, but no large-scale deployments have been completed.

Oyster Bay, NY - October 18, 2005 - The idea of transmitting data over electrical power lines is not new. Trials are in progress worldwide and a variety of equipment is available, but no large -scale deployments have been completed.


Two modes exist: "broadband over power line" (BPL), offering high -speed access via the electrical grid; and data transfer around the home. The latter comes in several regional flavors with different names including HomePlug and the more generic PLC.

Power line communications offer theoretical benefits to some consumers and some providers. But a new study from ABI Research shows that these are still infant technologies facing significant obstacles to success. "The Future of HomePlug/In -house PLC and Access BPL" examines overall market viability and its challenges, focuses on individual vendors and providers, and provides market forecasts.

It finds pros and cons in each segment.

According to Vamsi Sistla, ABI Research's director of broadband research, "BPL does offer benefits to utilities including more efficient use of the electrical grid and better telemetry for tracking faults and failures. BPL therefore enjoys support from governments and regulators. Utilities, eyeing the opportunity to offer Internet access to their customers, are also enthusiastic."

But serious bandwidth and radio interference issues remain, and would -be BPL vendors face stiff competition from incumbent DSL and cable networks. Sistla says, "the best opportunities for BPL will be in regions with poor telecom infrastructure, where cable is too expensive and modest access speeds will suffice. Eastern Europe, China and India are good examples."

In -home PLC presents other challenges. While realistically positioning themselves as collaborators, not competitors to home networking technologies like Wi -Fi and MoCA, PLC developers are split into at least three technical camps. According to Sistla, "PLC's best markets may be in homes lacking Wi -Fi -ready devices, or where Wi -Fi isn't practical. The real momentum for non -homogeneous home networking providers comes from the consumer electronics vendors. Their role may help determine the future of PLC: the jury is still out."

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations supporting annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in automotive, wireless, semiconductors, broadband, and energy. For information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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