Broadband Over Power Line

What Does Broadband Over Power Line Mean?

Broadband over power line (BPL) is the transmission of data over existing electrical wire using frequencies outside the range of AC power. Special networking equipment is required to translate electrical signals into data. They can be used as a long-range means of internet access as well as for smart power grids.

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Techopedia Explains Broadband Over Power Line

Broadband over power line (BPL) is the transmission of large amounts of data over existing electrical lines. Data is distributed from a power company over existing lines to residential and business customers.

BPL’s principle of operation is similar to that of DSL, though using power lines instead of phone lines. Data is transmitted over frequencies outside of the range of typical AC where the data and power equipment do not interfere with each other, typically at 1.8–250 MHz. Special modem-like devices plug into wall sockets to send and receive data.

Broadband providers do not have to run fiber-optic cables for this type of service, so it can be attractive in areas where telcos do not want to build out DSL or cable networks. BPL also makes smart grid technology more feasible, since power companies do not have to run extra networking cable to all their equipment.

The reach of BPL is limited compared to other forms of broadband, so it is not nearly as widely deployed as cable or ADSL.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.