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Broad Band Over Power Line

Published on Nov 12, 2015


Power line communications (PLC) or Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) allows transmission of data over power lines.Power line communications uses the RF signal sent over medium and low voltage AC power lines to allow end users to connect to the Internet.

The RF signal is modulated with digital information that is converted by an interface in the home or small business into Ethernet compatible data.

To gain a good understanding of how PLC Works an excellent understanding of the Power Grid is required. Unlike telephony and it's associated technologies there is no set standard for providing power. An example of such a difference in standards can be seen in the difference in voltage provided in the U.S. and the EU. Ireland uses a 220v AC power source whereas in the US a 110v power source is used. These differences lead to differences in basic equipment such as plugs e.g. The 3 pin plug used in Ireland compared to the 2 pin plug used in the US made possible due to the lower voltage used in the U.S. Despite these differences in basic equipment the basic network is similar in nearly all countries.

Power is generated at Power stations and distributed around a medium to large geographical area via HV lines or High Voltage lines.

In areas where power needs to be distributed to consumers transformers will be used to convert this high voltage into a lower voltage for transport over MV or Medium Voltage lines. These transformers are generally located at electrical substations operated by the utility or power supplier. Such medium voltage lines will be used to transport electricity around smaller geographical areas such as towns and small counties etc.

At the customer's house or premises a transformer is used to drop the voltage down to safer more manageable voltages for use in the home or business. This power is usually transported over LV or Low Voltage lines. These Low Voltage Lines include the lines that traverse a customer's home or business.

PLC Encoding

Though there are no set standards in PLC all implementations act in the same manner. PLC is based on the idea that any copper medium will transport any electrical signal for a certain distance. Basically a radio signal is modulated with the data we wish to send. This radio signal is then sent down the copper medium (our power lines) in a band of frequencies not used by for the purposes of supplying electricity and managing electricity.

The frequencies and encoding schemes used greatly influence both the efficiency and the speed of the PLC service. Most PLC radio traffic generally occurs in the same bandwidth roughly 1.6 MHz to 80 MHz. These frequencies are in the MF Medium Frequency (300KHz-3 MHz), HF High Frequency (3MHz - 30 MHz) and some of the VHF Very High Frequency (30MHz - 300 MHz) spectrum. Various encoding schemes have been used for sending the data along the Power Lines these include:


Used with the Single Carrier Version of PLC providing low bandwidths <1 MB


Used with the Single Carrier Version of PLC providing low bandwidths <1 MB


Used with the Multi Carrier version of PLC providing a bandwidth of 45 MB

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