ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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IEEE Plugs Away at Broadband over Power Lines Standard

New York, Sep 01, 2006

Momentum is building behind a technology that carries high-speed Internet over the electric grid. Known as Broadband over Power Lines, or BPL, the technology allows customers to access the World Wide Web, send e-mail, and automate their homes simply by plugging into an electrical outlet.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rekindled this month their push for broader rollout of the technology, unanimously adopting an order designed to help BPL to flourish. Given the ubiquity of power lines, BPL is a boon to people in rural areas where DSL and cable Internet services often do not reach. Currently, there are approximately fifty BPL networks in the United States, albeit mostly in the developmental stages.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standards Association, a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), is at work on a standard intended to promote the widespread and successful implementation of BPL services. IEEE P1901, Draft Standard for Broadband over Power Line Networks: Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications, will define how digital data travels over power lines and the nature of the communication channel to be used. The standard, IEEE says, will provide an essential tool to manufacturers, helping them to develop interoperable devices necessary to commercialize BPL.

Targeted for publication in early 2007, IEEE 1901 is designed to ensure the balanced and efficient use of the power line network by all classes of BPL devices. The standard lays out requirements to ensure that BPL devices from different manufacturers will be able to coexist and interoperate successfully on the same network. Additionally, the standard addresses security concerns to enable private and secure communications between users.

IEEE P1901 will apply to BPL devices for connection to broadband services, local area networks and other data distribution systems over power lines. The standard complies with electromagnetic compatibility regulations to ensure compatibility with wireless and telecommunications systems.

Participants in the IEEE work group developing P1901 include companies from the power, utilities and broadband communities. Members of the group include ANSI members Boeing, IBM, Intel, Motorola, Sony, and Texas Instruments, and Conexant Systems.

For additional information on the scope and purpose of IEEE 1901, click here.

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative