Update on the status of the first large-scale BPL effort in the US: This is the largest commercial rollout of BPL, which delivers data over powerlines by encoding information on high-voltage lines. High-speed broadband can span fairly large distances over existing wires through devices installed at points, which makes it awfully appealing.
So far, estimates--not by the power company, Cinergy--are about 8,000 homes have signed up out of 50,000 which could be served. Cinergy and its data partner Current Communications Group expects to pass 250,000 homes within three years. They aren't giving out numbers themselves, they say, to forestall providing competitive information.
The article opens with line workers installing a bypass box--that's because transformers don't pass the encoded data. Some BPL models use Wi-Fi as the last-100-foot solution, instead of using BPL to the home. This could wind up being a great WiMax/BPL hybrid, too, with WiMax on a certain frequency of poles serving a group of homes.
The utility is starting to gear up using the BPL for its own monitoring purposes, too. In other cases, utilities have worked the other way around, building fiber-optic installations for monitoring that are then turned to the use of broadband for city or for-fee public use.
Some of the think-tanks and analysts who are either opposed to municipally run broadband on ideological, financial, or other grounds are promoting BPL as a method of adding competition without requiring more wire in the ground. But BPL has seen little commercial uptake yet as power companies apparently haven't acted generally interested in it. Related to this is the issue that many electrical utilities are municipal entities, in which case that introduces that element back into their concern about rolling out a network: should they in the current climate?