TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: After Years In The Dark, Utilities See The Light

After Years In The Dark, Utilities See The Light

Eric Friedebach (
18 Mar 2005 10:56:01 -0800

Lisa DiCarlo, 03.18.05,

NEW YORK - In February the New Millennium Research Council, a
Washington, D.C., policy group, pronounced that 2005 could be the
breakthrough year for a technology called broadband over power line,
or BPL, where utility companies use standard power lines to deliver
broadband connections to anyone with a power outlet.

It is compelling technology that could provide meaningful competition
to cable and to broadband service providers for digital subscriber
lines. But that might not even be the most interesting thing about
BPL. What's groundbreaking is that utility companies are, for the
first time, using modern technology like BPL to automate critical
functions and manage their networks.

In most cases, there is little or no "intelligence" between an
electric substation and a power outlet. That means that utility
companies provide electric power pretty much the same way they did a
century ago.

But that's changing.

Several municipal and investor-owned utilities are deploying BPL
services to consumers to leverage their valuable infrastructure and
drive new revenue, but also to manage their networks. The result will
be better customer service, faster response to problems, lower costs
and better profit margins.

nIn Manassas, Va., the municipal utility is using BPL for tracking
power outages in real time, automated meter reading and remote
switching, even turning on Wi-Fi hot spots.

"We can use the [BPL] infrastructure to serve multiple purposes," says
John Hewa, director of utilities for the city of Manassas.

Those purposes could also include automated customer service, remote
monitoring and remote control of substations.

Eric Friedebach
/An Apollo Sandwich from Corky & Lenny's/

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