BROADBAND PLC BASICS AND TUTORIALS

Broadband PLC systems provide significantly higher data rates (more than 2 Mbps) than narrowband PLC systems. Where the narrowband networks can realize only a small number of voice channels and data transmission with very low bit rates, broadband PLC networks offer the realization of more sophisticated telecommunication services; multiple voice connections, high-speed data transmission, transfer of video signals, and narrowband services as well. Therefore, PLC broadband systems are also considered a capable telecommunications technology.

The realization of broadband communications services over powerline grids offers a great opportunity for cost-effective telecommunications networks without the laying of new cables. However, electrical supply networks are not designed for information transfer and there are some limiting factors in the application of broadband PLC technology.

Therefore, the distances that can be covered, as well as the data rates that can be realized by PLC systems, are limited. A further very important aspect for application of broadband PLC is its Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC).

For the realization of broadband PLC, a significantly wider frequency spectrum is needed (up to 30MHz) than is provided within CENELEC bands. On the other hand, a PLC network acts as an antenna becoming a noise source for other communication systems working in the same frequency range (e.g. various radio services).

Because of this, broadband PLC systems have to operate with a limited signal power, which decreases their performance (data rates, distances). Current broadband PLC systems provide data rates beyond 2Mbps in the outdoor arena, which includes medium- and low-voltage supply networks, and up to 12 Mbps in the in-home area.

Some manufacturers have already developed product prototypes providing much higher data rates (about 40 Mbps). Medium-voltage PLC technology is usually used for the realization of point-to-point connections bridging distances up to several hundred meters.

Typical application areas of such systems is the connection of local area networks (LAN) networks between buildings or within a campus and the connection of antennas and base stations of cellular communication systems to their backbone networks.

Low-voltage PLC technology is used for the realization of the so-called “last mile” of telecommunication access networks. Because of the importance of telecommunication access, current development of broadband PLC technology is mostly directed toward applications in access networks including the in-home area.

In contrast to narrowband PLC systems, there are no specified standards that apply to broadband PLC networks.

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