Internet from any electrical plug?

This is potentially life changing in positive ways (faster internet = good) and quite possibly so negative as to negate this positive (faster internet killing HAM radio, amateur bands, maybe WiFi = bad).

If you think your cable internet connection is fast at, say, 3 megabits per second (mbps), how would you like to plug-in your computer to any electrical outlet and have a 170mbps internet connection? When I think of THAT kind of bandwidth, my immediate reaction is “Oh please, oh please” as I begin to think of what I could do with it! (Home servers, video-on-demand, etc.).

Though broadband over powerlines (BPL) has been talked about for years (and the challenges outlined have been formidable), only one key alliance of companies who’d benefit from this technology — the HomePlug Alliance — had been formed. Though Sony was a part of HomePlug, at the CeBit trade fair in Hannover, Germany, Sony, Matsushita (Panasonic) and Mitsubishi announced a technology to coordinate the use of BPL with common transport mechanisms and standards.

You may have noticed that my blog is about connecting the dots. So connect that “announcement dot” with a report (PDF) released in February from the New Millenium Research Council (NMRC) and you have opportunity meeting incentive.  NMRC has several interesting news articles written about their report including this press release from them that “2005 could be the breakthrough year for broadband over powerlines.”

It looks like BPL regulatory openings are going to happen and fast…and fulfill a promise made by George Bush during his campaign for re-election.

BPL is not without detractors like the National Association for Amateur Radio or pundits like David Coursey or the “BPL makes no sense” naysayers offering up pretty compelling arguments. I don’t purport to be an expert on the technical ramifications of BPL signal pollution interfering with amateur radio, AM, FM and more — but there is one simplistic yet compelling 3 1/2 minute video here that makes the case pretty strongly about the potential negative aspects as well as a listing of issues here.

I’m torn. My belief is that ubiquitous broadband (and fast broadband…not the wimpy stuff I have at home via cable) will undoubtedly be THE enabling technology to kickstart innovation and drive the Web 2.0 forward as it could’ve been the first time around. But if it crushes and interferes with WiMax or WiFi ubiquity, kills AM/FM & amateur radio (because, after all, powerlines are alongside most roads!) and stifles wireless innovation, we’ve got a problem. If it further hands a broadband monopoly to the inept power companies that seemingly can’t find their butts with both hands — and is shoved done our throats by the FCC and the Bush Administration without full and complete public discourse and diligence — I’d rather stay with my cable broadband (as painful as that is to say).

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.