Plugging into Power Line Communications

March 4, 2007
In-building Broadband over Power Line (BPL) or Power Line Communications delivers high-speed Internet access using a building’s internal electrical wiring

By Frank T. Matarazzo

A new, simple, and cost-effective method for delivering high-speed Internet access is currently making waves among developers and building owners: it's called in-building Broadband over Power Line (BPL) or Power Line Communications (PLC) PLC uses a building's internal electrical wiring to deliver a host of IP-based applications.

PLC can act as the Internet and network-delivery platform to support a host of data and communications services, including high-speed Internet access, Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), Wi-Fi access, and security and energy-management services, all through existing electrical wiring. Lower installation costs are achieved because the service is implemented over standard electrical lines, with Internet and network access at every electrical outlet.

Using the existing electrical infrastructure also makes it very convenient to offer these bundled services. There is no need to install expensive cabling, make holes in the walls, or mount bulky apparatus associated with wireless access. PLC does not rely on the use or reuse of phone lines like standard phone/modem connections and DSL.

PLC technologies come in a range of flavors - some better than others. For example, few have true networking platforms capable of supporting multiple data solutions or encryption capabilities, which ensures that Internet users cannot see other users on the network.

In New York City, there are six multi-dwelling unit (MDU) properties that have begun using PLC technology to deliver bundled services in the last year. These landlords have discovered that there are many possible service extensions supported by the underlying PLC technology, including building-control solutions, building surveillance/security, and resident amenities programs (eConcierge).

By implementing and utilizing PLC technology in residential, commercial, or hotel properties, developers, building owners, and managers can have the ability to monitor, control, and adjust energy usage throughout a building. The same PLC technology can also be utilized by residents for internal control of individual apartment systems and functions such as lighting, temperature, and other IP-enabled devices and systems, as well as offer seamless communication with building management and neighborhood services through a customized resident portal or computer.

PLC technology offers an efficient and cost-effective solution for providing a variety of useful applications, including:

  • High-speed Internet connectivity.
  • Local area networking.
  • VoIP telephony.
  • Closed-circuit surveillance.
  • Energy management.
  • Wireless access points.
  • Two-way video conferencing.
  • Point-of-sale systems.
  • Smart appliances.

PLC technology is uniquely suited for MDU properties that need cost-effective broadband Internet and network access quickly and without disruption, including apartment buildings, condominiums, hotels, timeshare resorts, schools, and government buildings.

Frank T. Matarazzo is president at Hawthorne, NJ-based MST/NuVisions, a subsidiary of Telkonet (

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