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What does Power Line Communications mean?
 
Power Line Communications is a term used to identify technologies, equipments, applications and services aiming at providing users with communication means over existing "power lines" (cables transmitting electricity).
   
 
   

What do PLC, PLT, BPL, Access PLC and In-home PLC mean?
 
PLC stands for Power Line Communications, also called Power Line Telecommunications (or PLT) to underline the technology capability to address Telecommunications services, and Broadband over Power Line (BPL) to underline the technology capability to address broadband services. As for the term Access PLC, it is used to identify those PLC solutions aiming at providing consumers with broadband services through the external electricity grid, while In-home PLC is used to identify PLC solutions aiming at applications within the home.
   
 
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How does it work?
 
The power line is transformed into a communication network through the superposition of a low energy information signal to the power wave. In order to ensure a suited coexistence and separation between the two systems, the frequency range used for communication is very far from the one used for the power wave (50 Hz in Europe): 3 to 148,5 kHz for PLC narrowband applications, from 1 to 30 MHz for PLC broadband applications.
   
 
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What applications can be provided though PLC?
 
A very wide range of narrowband (some kbps) and broadband (tens or even hundreds of Mbps) applications can be provided through access and in-home PLC solutions, for the benefit of end consumers and of utilities (to increase their performances and improve their service quality). Narrowband applications include home control, home automation, automatic meter reading, remote surveillance and control of home appliances, etc. Broadband applications include (for access PLC) Internet access, telephony, TV and (for in-home PLC) Internet access sharing, computer resource sharing and AV whole-house distribution.
   
 
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What are the advantages of PLC?
 
It is an available and proven technology. It does not require any new wires in homes and can rely for access applications on an infrastructure with almost 100% coverage, which is not the case for ADSL on emerging wireless technologies for instance. It is very simple to access and to install - an end-user has just to plug-in! It is very affordable. It is developed with the full support of trustable and financially sound operators: electric utilities.
   
 
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Who is supporting PLC?
 
Beyond PLCforum, a number of industry groups and electric utilities, all around the world, are supporting the development of the PLC technology. Among industry groups are UPLC and PLCA (in the US), PLC-J (in Japan), APTEL (in South America), Utilitel in Australia, the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, the Universal Powerline Alliance (UPA), etc. As for electric utilities, the PUA (PLC Utilities Alliance), involving major European utilities, is the most important supporting group representing over 100 million clients.
   
 
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Does the use of PLC raise any electromagnetic interference problems?
 
Even if the promoters of competing alternative infrastructures may be disappointed... there are still no cases of proven harmful interference despite tens of thousands of users, hundred of thousands of connected properties, and a number of independent and comprehensive measurement campaigns! Moreover, would any local EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) troubles appear, current features of PLC technologies enable the removing of emission frequencies to avoid such troubles.
   
 
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Are there real business opportunities?
 
Concerning narrowband applications, a significant business for PLC technology has been developing these 10 or even 20 last years. As for broadband applications, business perspectives are quite important for in-home PLC (considering the growing consumer demand aiming at Internet broadband sharing and whole-house AV distribution in particular), while most leading utilities have announced that attractive business models for access PLC were now available (which justified the launch of pilot sites or commercial roll-outs, see below).
   
 
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Are these opportunities limited to Europe?
 
Europe is at the forefront of international developments and opportunities for PLC technology, for access or in-home broadband applications, are important in Europe. But opportunities are important in other parts of the world. This is the case in North America where in-home (narrowband and broadband) PLC solutions have already reached an advanced development status, and where BPL is today seen, at the federal level as a very promising competitor in the broadband race. It is also the case in Asia (Japan, but also South Korea, China, India, etc.), where, in particular, access and in-home PLC technology for broadband applications are expected to quickly develop.
   
 
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Are there any (access) PLC pilot sites or first deployments?
 
It is estimated today that more than 80 PLC initiatives in more than 40 countries have been launched, worldwide, by electric utilities. Pilot sites, technological or commercial trials and deployments are numerous in Europe. Among the most important initiatives, the ones developed by EDF (France), EDP (Portugal), EEF (Switzerland), ENDESA and IBERDROLA (Spain), PPC (Germany), and SSE (Scotland).
   
 
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