Power line networking problems

Power-line networking has been increasing in popularity at some areas but the success does not become without problem. Power line tech could crash aircraft and shut down the Archers article says that an extensive study commissioned by Ofcom concludes that power line networking could crash airplanes and block Radio 4 in UK. According to the study the problem isn’t just that power line networking (PLN) kit is getting more popular, but also that the frequency range used is expanding in order to drive up the data rate.

Existing PLN equipment operates between 2MHz and 30MHz, but the next generation of kit will run from there right up to 300MHz, which includes the FM radio band (87.5-108MHz) and various safety and communication systems. PLN system splatters its message across the whole wavelength, which gives great capacity at the cost of widespread interference. There is even a video that demonstrates Belkin‘s Gigabit Powerline HD Starter Kit completely knocking out FM reception while files are transferred.

For comparison on frequencies used, the current ADSL 2+ system used frequencies up to to 2.2MHz. VDSL systems use higher frequencies (VDSL up to 12 MHz and VDSL2 stretches to 30MHz).

If you are interested in more details read the whole Ofcom The Likelihood and Extent of Radio Frequency Interference from In-Home PLT Devices study paper (145 pages). Besides interference issued this document describes how Instrument Landing System (ILS) (a radio based system for guiding aircraft down to land on a
chosen runway) works.

The manufacturers and PA Consulting reckon that technology will solve all these problems with a combination of smart-notching and power management. But those both cost money and capacity, so PA Consulting concludes that legislation will be necessary to ensure that happens.



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