Final IEEE 1901TM Broadband Over Power Line Standard Now Published


Globally recognized standard enables communications data rates in excess of 500 Mbps

IEEE, the world's largest professional association advancing technology for humanity, today announced that the final IEEE 1901TM Broadband over Power Line (BPL) standard finalized in December 2010 is now published and available online at: or through the IEEE Xplore Digital Library at: Sponsored by the IEEE Communications Society (, this globally recognized BPL standard is designed for use in a wide range of applications including smart energy, transportation and Local Area Networks (LANs) in both the home and the enterprise. Networking products that fully comply with IEEE 1901 will deliver data rates in excess of 500 Mbps in LAN applications. In first-mile/last-mile applications, IEEE 1901-compliant devices will achieve ranges of up to 1500 meters. The technology specified by IEEE 1901 uses sophisticated modulation techniques to transmit data over standard AC power lines of any voltage at transmission frequencies of less than 100 MHz.

In the transportation sector, for example, the standard’s data rates and range make it possible to deliver A/V entertainment to the seats of airplanes, trains and other mass transit vehicles. Electric vehicles can download a new entertainment playlist to the A/V system while the car is charging overnight. In the home segment, PLC will complement wireless LANs by providing a link through walls and other RF impediments as well as over distances beyond the normal range of wireless networks. It will also complement wireless networks in hotels and other multistory buildings by carrying multimedia data over the longer distances and allowing wireless to complete the communication link over the last few meters. IEEE 1901 will also benefit utilities, service providers, and consumer electronics companies – anyone with a stake in smart grid technologies – as well as smart-meter providers and home appliance manufacturers.

Broadband over Power Line in India and the relevance of 1901 standard:

For the fast growing Indian market, BPL technology will enable access to affordable communication to the country’s vast rural network. The biggest technology challenge in India is that several dozen residences are served from a single low voltage (LV) cable line operating at 230–400V which can cause problems such as radiated interference. This is a cause for concern because of the non-uniform nature of the supply network. Further, typical latency is below 3 ms and latency being dependent on traffic load and number of users, when the number increases it leads to heavy loading of the network which inturn affects VoIP applications.

1901 includes cutting edge features for minimizing and resolving interference if necessary. The transmitted signal power can be globally controlled over the frequency spectrum and also locally controlled carrier per carriers, for each device. These parameters are set by the BPL system operator using the network management tools. It allows to notch out the frequency bands, the local regulator (Government) would like to protect permanently and to resolve potential interference case by case in frequency bands, that are not permanently protected. 1901 includes a TDMA access method that allows allocation of dedicated channel resources, for high QoS demanding services such as VoIP. It means that VoIP continues to work when the standard traffic grows. This feature does not exist on pre-1901 devices that were deployed in BPL pilots in India.

Despite India’s power grid being not as advanced as developed countries, BPL is likely to make an impact as its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks. Corporate India could quickly embrace BPL because of its inherent advantages over Ethernet. IIT Allahabad has successfully tested BPL. Jamia Milia Islamia used the BPL to capture hairline differences in track and field events, that would decide the winner, during the Commonwealth Games 2010. Delhi Technological University has submitted a research on BPL to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and a pilot project in ‘Alipur’ which probably has the most challenging electricity infrastructure in India, was successful. The project executed on a central government grant as part of its e-governance initiative in rural areas. The pilot was to check benefits of the technology in the remotest corners of India.

At present, broadband connection has a speed of 100 MBPS, but BPL promises 200 MBPS and an easy-to-use connection within 30 minutes. Apart from consumer-based advantages, BPL can be used by power companies to solve their problems in the line with communication signals flowing over power signals. Other opportunities include automatic energy meter reading (AMR), real-time system monitoring, preventative maintenance, voltage control, outage detection and restoration, load management on the power grid, load scheduling, load forecasting, capacitor bank control, and development of smart grids, which could add to conservation of energy and improve system reliability, service, and safety for electricity customers. A global standard such as IEEE 1901 being immediately available will support faster adoption of BPL in India. Also, since broadband penetration is a major area of focus for Indian corporate and BPL is considered among the best options to enhance penetration, the 1901 standard will be a boon.

About the IEEE Standards Association

The IEEE Standards Association, a globally recognized standards-setting body within the IEEE, develops consensus standards through an open process that engages industry and brings together a broad stakeholder community. IEEE standards set specifications and best practices based on current scientific and technological knowledge. The IEEE-SA has a portfolio of over 900 active standards and more than 600 standards under development. For more information visit You can also visit us on Facebook at, follow us on Twitter, or connect with us on the Standards Insight Blog at

About IEEE

IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional association, is dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. Through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities, IEEE is the trusted voice on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Learn more at