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Friday, March 19, 2004


Washington: Chelan PUD conducting BPL trial

An article in the February 20 edition of the Seattle Business Journal reports that Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) in rural Washington state is conducting a trial of BPL (broadband over power line) technology as part of its' ongoing effort to make broadband available to all its' customers over the next few years:
"There's a lot of buzz around the technology right now," said John Smith, networks director of Chelan County PUD. 'But there are concerns, and our No. 1 concern is that this could cause interference with amateur radio operators,' he said. The utility plans to launch a small-scale trial of BPL in a month or so. Local amateur radio operators will participate and provide feedback about any interference they experience."

"The PUD plans to run fiber out to Wenatchee Heights, a community of about 120 homes, where BPL hardware will then convert the signal into one that can be transmitted over power lines. The utility is using fiber for part of the system because lower-level signals can travel farther on fiber. On power lines, 'if they boost the signal level, they could increase the possibility of radio interference,' Smith said."

"That's one technical issue. Another is bandwidth. BPL's bandwidth is roughly comparable with cable Internet service, Smith said. 'We don't think (BPL) is the endgame, because the limited bandwidth doesn't allow cable TV,' he said."

"The Chelan County utility is in the process of stringing fiber to its customers to provide voice, data and broadband access. Smith said that the utility's ultimate goal is to build out fiber to all its customers, but he thinks that BPL might be an interim solution for remote areas until that time. Chelan County PUD expects to run a trial for six to eight months."

(Link from Jim Baller at the Baller Herbst Law Group via his mailing list)


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