Powerline Update

2003 Update on the Powerline Industry

2003 and Beyond

Soon it will be a question of market shares. Interest in the Powerline technology has been worldwide. Acceptance has not come readily in most markets, by customers (for PLC access applications). Some big system vendors operate internationally already. The question is, are those few early adopters right or should it still not to be taken for granted that a good business case can be made with Powerline?

While there is already healthy competition in the technology arena and Powerline technology has been accepted, in principle, by the regulators, there is still relatively scarce information available on the business aspects of Powerline and on the conditions that need to prevail for a good sustainable business.

The few companies who are successful guard the business know-how as a secret of their success and are therefore reluctant to share it with others. Which makes outside professional help even more important for any company seriously considering entering the Powerline arena.

Despite all euphoria, the rollout of Powerline services happens only slowly. Compared with the speed that price competitive DSL services in are introduced, Powerline is running into severe problems. The price models for current offerings of Powerline service are data throughput sensitive, which makes Powerline too expensive, compared with DSL. Worse, in areas where cable is available, cable services out-compete even the DSL offerings on bandwidth and on price.

The one sector of Powerline communications that has a brighter outlook is the in-house segment. The reasons are simple: with the existing technology, even complying to the regulations that exist for emissions, a Powerline LAN, a P-LAN can be implemented easily enough. The user bit rate on the P-LAN will be similar to the 10 Mb/s LANs in widespread use.

Marketing in-house PLC systems is different from the access market. The customer is usually the end user. As long as no PLC access system is in use locally even more bandwidth may be available, because in the absence of an access system the in-house system could also use the lower part of the RF spectrum. Several vendors will allow that option.

Care has to be taken where there are other in-house P-LANs operating in the vicinity. It will probably still take another two years before the interworking issues are sufficiently under control to allow a less constrained deployment of P-LANs.

International Powerline Communications Forum (ipcf.org)
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