The Newton-Evans Research Co. (Ellicott City, Maryland, U.S.) conducted a study in the first quarter of 2007 on the use of broadband over power lines (BPL) and power-line-carrier (PLC) communications technologies. Some of the significant findings from this recently published study are:

  • Many observers see BPL as eventually able to replace other forms of remote asset management that include supervisory control and data acquisition, teleprotection and the use of narrow-bandwidth forms of PLC.

  • Several of the utilities researched do not want to be involved in the telecommunications services business, but do want to gain the benefits of BPL for their internal use in remote asset management, monitoring and network control.

  • It appears that certain Western nations have now gained significant experience with sizable pilot implementations or beyond. These BPL rollouts, whether tests or full-scale deployments, now encompass the ability to serve perhaps 10 million customers.

While still in its infancy, BPL will one day soon be a key enabler for advanced metering infrastructure, a necessary communications-centered utility-side platform that will promote true automated meter reading, and allow demand-response and demand-side-management programs to develop.

The promise of BPL is perhaps greatest in its potential to extend the broadband network reach to approximately 2 billion rural inhabitants around the globe who are still unreachable for modern voice and data services, and who thus remain without access to modern, high-speed telecommunications services.

While this report, available from Newton-Evans Research Co. (www.newton-evans.com), addresses the drivers for this technology, it also examines in depth the factors that could inhibit BPL growth.

Estimates and forecasts of growth of BPL services, 2006-2010.
Region Electricity consumers covered by BPL deployments (2006) Electricity consumers covered by BPL deployments (2008) Electricity consumers covered by BPL deployments (2010)
Asia Pacific 195,000 5.5 million 14 million
South Asia 5,000 500,000 5 million
Western Europe 295,000 3 million 11 million
C/E Europe CIS 25,000 500,000 3.5 million
North America 745,000 6.5 million 20 million
Central South America 14,000 3 million 6 million
Sub-Saharan Africa 10,000 500,000 4 million
Middle East 40,000 750,000 6 million
World totals 1.329 million 20.25 million 69.50 million
Prepared by Newton-Evans Research Co., May 2007. Note that Newton-Evans' forecast for North America BPL deployments by 2010 is also the forecast arrived at independently by PARKS Associates (Dallas, Texas, U.S.).