Researchers see gigabit data over power lines
WASHINGTON - Engineers at Penn State University said
on Wednesday they had found a way for power lines to transmit data
to homes at rates far faster than high-speed Internet connections
from cable and telephone companies.
Broadband service over power lines has been highly
touted by equipment makers and federal regulators as a possible
competitor to cable and telephone services that handle nearly all of
the 30 million US residential broadband connections.
But despite dozens of trials, few electric utilities
have attempted to sell the service to customers, citing cost and
technical problems. The Penn State researchers said while the
technology would improve, lowering the costs of power-line broadband
would remain challenging.
Power-line broadband systems available today typically
promise data speeds of roughly one megabit to three megabits per
second, similar to cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) service.
The Penn State engineers, Pouyan Amirshahi and Mohsen
Kavehrad, estimated in a research paper released Wednesday that
their system could deliver data at close to one gigabit per second
over medium-voltage electrical lines in ideal conditions, with
speeds of hundreds of megabits per second available to home users.
Their system would uses repeaters placed every
kilometer, and requires power lines to have been modified to reduce
interference with the data signals. The engineers said their
estimates were based on computer models, and that the data speeds
available in a real-world version would depend on how many repeaters
a power company used.
The Penn State study was funded with a grant from
AT&T Corp., which has taken part in prior trials of power-line
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