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OPLIN 4cast #530: Power and broadband

Posted in 4cast

As far back as 1914, AT&T was looking at ways to use power lines for telecommunications. About ninety years later, there was a flurry of research and policy activity around broadband over power lines (BPL), but technical incompatibilities between electrical “noise” and broadband signals on the same wire were never resolved. Then last September, AT&T announced that they were developing a new type of broadband over power lines that uses the outside of the line to transmit wireless signals, rather than using the inside of the line. Called Project AirGig, AT&T has just announced that they are ready to start testing the technology. If the price demanded by the power companies for use of their lines is cheaper than the cost of building fiber to remote areas, AirGig may be able to provide high-speed internet just about everywhere.

  • Is AT&T’s new Project AirGig a cheaper solution to fibre rollout? (TelecomTV | Guy Daniels)  “As part of Project AirGig, AT&T Labs has developed low-cost plastic antennas and devices located along the power line to regenerate millimeter wave (mmW) signals that can be used for LTE and 5G multi-gigabit mobile and fixed deployments. These patent-pending devices can mean low hardware and deployment costs while maintaining high signal quality. In fact, AT&T says it has more than 100 patents or patent applications supporting this new technology and other access technologies. The experiments are focused on developing multiple ways to send a modulated radio signal around or near medium-voltage power lines.”
  • AT&T seeks to deliver the internet over power lines (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Rick Barrett)  “The company says its wireless signals would hitch a ride along the outside of power lines, rather than through them, and the equipment would draw its power from the magnetic fields that surround the lines. AirGig could deliver multigigabit speeds, far beyond what’s available in the general marketplace now, according to the company. The system would likely augment other means of getting the internet to homes and businesses, such as wireless antennas — about the size of a pizza box — mounted on a customer’s home.”
  • AT&T’s multi-gigabit wireless over power lines heading to trials this year (Ars Technica | Jon Brodkin)  “It’s not clear whether any individual customers will get AirGig service in the trials this year. We asked AT&T, and the company said, ‘that’s among the details we’re working out for the first trials.’ Though AT&T has made fiber-to-the-premises available to nearly 4 million customer locations nationwide, the company’s old copper networks haven’t been upgraded in a lot of areas, leaving many customers with painfully slow speeds or no wired broadband at all.”
  • Project AirGig is AT&T’s plan to use power lines to connect wireless antennas (Digital Trends | Mark Coppock)  “The need for improved internet speeds is growing exponentially, with video streaming leading the way as the principle consumer of internet bandwidth. According to AT&T’s research, data use has increased by 250,000 percent since 2007, and 4K mobile video streaming, augmented and virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, and smart homes will do nothing but increase the demand for data.”

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