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AT&T to Test Broadband Over Power Lines

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El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

AT&T to Test Broadband Over Power Lines

AT&T has discovered a way to deliver high-speed broadband over electrical power lines, a method it claims would make it cheaper and easier to bring internet to hard-to-reach places.The company has filed patents for the technology and is looking for a place to conduct field trials next year.Even if it goes well, AT&T warned it would still be several years before the system is commercially available.

http://www.pcmag.com/news/348044/at-t-airgig-to-test-broadband-over-power-lines
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com
14 REPLIES 14
Amanda
Moderator

So like a giant powerline adapter? 
El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

May be. They're saying the signal propagates around the wires, not in them. 

There is a single-wire transmission technology, called a Goubau transmission line or "G-line." that's been around for a hundred years. It may be some variation of that technology (Caution, Geek info ahead):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-wire_transmission_line

http://www.radioworld.com/article/New-Technology-May-Alleviate-BPL-Interference-Concerns/190578
 
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com
Amanda
Moderator

Going by their blog post, looks like they have a few different ideas on how they'll execute in mind

http://about.att.com/newsroom/att_to_test_delivering_multi_gigabit_wireless_internet_speeds_using_po...

Seems like a great idea, but could be security-risky and they'd need to create something that isn't as submissive to the elements if they are using unshielded techniques to translate information between open spaces, even if they're small. 
BirdDog
Assistant Professor

This has been talked about and in development for quite awhile, was wondering when it start being tested. Really could be a game changer.

Wonder how cable providers would offset their investment already on cables in the ground? Very high price for the power line service? Seems like one of those hitting yourself in the face kind of scenarios. I think one reason nobody has really been pushing it, until now.

Maybe if AT&T can patent it they will pretty much be able to take over the entire ground based ISP market using power lines. That would certainly offset any loss in the underground cable customer base. Of course the power companies would have a say in all of it, and a price.

High frequency signals riding on top of low frequency AC power has been going on for years. Used in aircraft and the military uses it many different ways.
GW
Advanced Tutor

Our little electrical co-op has been trying to figure this internet over powerlines for years.
GabeU
Distinguished Professor IV

They tried this in a town in VA.  Apparently it wasn't all that impressive and the cost of maintaining it wasn't worth it. 

I'm sure the technology is updated, but if I remember correctly, the problem is the transformers in the power lines.  It's difficult to not have them interfere with the signal. 


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El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

It looks like they may solving that issue by not injecting the signal into the lines and are instead "riding over the top."

It may well be that, at every transformer, they'll need a pair of these launchers to pull the signal off the upstream line, bypass the transformer, then relaunch it on the down stream line. 
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com
GabeU
Distinguished Professor IV

I certainly hope that they can do this and that they are able to do it well.  It wouldn't surprise me if it is going to be distance dependent , like with DSL, so it may not help people out in the boonies, but we'll have to wait and see.  Either way, it's an interesting development.   A nice find. 

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El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

I used to work for the "Father Of The Home Satellite TV Industry," Taylor Howard, at Chaparral Communications in San Jose. He was a Ham-radio Operator, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, and a Consultant to NASA's Deep-space Research Team.

Brilliant guy, and the first person to tell me about G-line technology, how it could transmit signals over tremendous distances with virtually 0 cable loss. He also said that a problem with the technology is that it doesn't like sharp bends very much, and the signal can just fly right off at the bend and keep on going into nowhere. 🙂
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com
debbie.jean.bro
Advanced Tutor

Fascinating conversation! I do my research in Eastern Africa and we've been saying for years how great cellphone technology is because economically emerging countries like Zambia, as well as countries like China have been able to "skip over" the giant infrastructure of telephone lines and just build cell towers. We've been waiting for solar power to get good enough and cheap enough to bypass running electrical lines all over the earth too. This makes me wonder if there will continue to be new uses for these lines.

Funny, I got better internet signal on my iPad and better cellphone service miles out in the African bush last year than I get out in farm country here on the west coast of the U.S.! Of course, there was no electricity out there, so I had to charge everything up in my car or drive a really long ways to a charging station. Here at home I have electricity (and indoor plumbing!!) but no cellphone reception and no cable internet.

Just one request--more of a prayer, really. Please, oh please, oh please don't let AT&T get another monopoly on something! I remember when I had to pay "long distance " to call my best friend three blocks away because she was in a different town. 😉
BirdDog
Assistant Professor

Cell towers love, love flat earth with few trees. I'm guessing the part of Africa you were at was like that. Can reach out 30+ miles from one tower.

And who knows if this internet over power lines will ever come to fruition. A bit like the low earth orbit satellite internet constellations being talked about.

Big companies are involved in both but something that "might" be here 20 years from now is not improving my life anytime soon. Heck, I could be dead by then. Actually, insurance actuaries bet I will be.   : )
GabeU
Distinguished Professor IV

He also said that a problem with the technology is that it doesn't like sharp bends very much, and the signal can just fly right off at the bend and keep on going into nowhere.

I don't know why, but that got me rolling.  Maybe I'm  just in a good mood.  LOL. 


Ryzen 5 3400G | MSI B450M Pro-M2 MAX | 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3000 | XPG SX8200 Pro 512GB NVMe | Windows 10 Pro
El Dorado Netwo
Advanced Tutor

Yeah, I thought it was pretty funny, too, when he told me about it. Sort of like cars careening around a corner too fast and flying off into the field.
El Dorado Networks |Diamond Springs, CA | eldoradonetworks.com
debbie.jean.bro
Advanced Tutor

You and me both, my friend. 🙂

YES, where I was in Zambia, very flat, not a lot of trees. What they call "mountains" wouldn't even qualify as foothills where I live, haha!

I live in Washington state. Tall pine trees everywhere. The Cascade mountain range. I have about 10 trees in my front yard. My neighbor has 27 all over her yard. We have lots that are 100x 60' or so. The second house down from me has so many trees that Dish Network couldn't establish a connection, so she can't have TV.

Getting a permit to cut down any pine trees here is nigh unto impossible. I'm lucky in that both my and my neighbor on the other side have relatively few trees and they're all located at the very front of our lots, between our driveways and the road. I have a basically unobstructed southern exposure, so my HughesNet and Dish satellite services work very well.