BPL: Still Not Going to Happen

  2007-03-15


An article from Ars Technica on BPL reminded me of my long held belief that BPL is going nowhere fast.

The Ars article outlined a reason that I’ve run into first hand at a rural electric cooperative I worked at: utilities have no desire to become an ISP.  There’s absolute zero overlap in employee skills, technologies, and materials other than the physical power lines.  Its like McDonalds selling clothes because… well… why not?  And considering BPL isn’t going to be any cheaper than DSL or Cable, there’s probably not much money to be made.

Before you bring up the untapped rural broadband market, don’t forget: BPL isn’t a rural broadband solution.  If you read into any of the technologies you’ll find that BPL doesn’t do well over long distances, so you need to run fiber and wireless links out to substations.  While the rural broadband market does exist, its pretty small and wireless technology is quickly catching on.

There’s also the problem that large power companies are probably one of the few industries more inept and anti-consumer than cable and telecom companies.  If you live in Illinois and get your power from Ameren, you know what I’m talking about.  There’s also the wonderful example of Enron which dabbled in bandwidth markets before realizing the utility industry was designed to be gamed.

The only reason Google dumped cash into a BPL company is because Google is desperate to get every man, woman, child, and cow in the world connected to the Internet to view AdWords.

I’m sorry to anyone out there using a satellite connection and praying for the day BPL will emancipate them… don’t hold your breath.