Broadband Powerline Carrier for utility Applications

During Program 10, DSTAR commisioned a series of whitepapers on technological topics of common interest. The goal of this project was to deliver an overview treatment of three key technology areas that are relevant to modern distribution systems. The issues under consideration were:

  • The use of broaband powerline carrier technology for power equipment communication
  • The availability and application of sub-cycle electronic switching equipment
  • Impedance considerations for three-phase pad-mount transformers design

Broadband power line carrier is a fairly recent evolution of the power line carrier technology that has been used by utilities since the 1940s for simple telemetering and rudimentary control of electrical equipment. Whereas narrowband power line carrier (PLC) operates at frequencies in the 200 – 500 kHz range and has data rates typically less than 128 Kbps, broadband power line carrier (BPL) operates in the 2 – 30 MHz range and is theoretically capable of supporting data transfer rates of tens of Mbps, depending on the signal-to-noise ratio. The potentially high bandwidth combined with the fact that most homes in the United States have a direct connection to the electric distribution system has created much interest in the utility industry related to providing commercial broadband to customers and improving overall operating efficiencies.


The broadband powerline carrier white-paper presents an overview of the state of the art of powerline carrier for power equipment communication. The scope includes: a review of wireline, wireless, fiber-optic, and PLC communications; a comprehensive overview of BPL technology including evolution, challenges, configurations and utility/municipal experience; an extensive analysis of current and proposed applications in the utility space; and an examination of the business case for BPL. The outline of the 73-page final report is shown below.


The final report for this project can be downloaded from P10-11