BPL or Broadband Power Line Technology Promises to Transform More than ISPs

February 4, 2005
A new technology that will allow broadband internet to be sent over electric lines is currently being tested in over 40 locations in the US and has already been approved by the FCC for broader use. The basic concept here is that just like cable modem uses a chip to send signals over a cable, BPL modems use a chip to send signals over an electric power line making the internet available through every outlet in a home without any modification to the wiring.

This is particularly significant for rural areas or developing nations which may not be able to afford or maintain expensive fiber optic networks. Furthermore, this means that every electrical appliance in a home becomes a potentially internet capable device. This means that the TV, DVD player, and cable box could send configuration information to a new stereo to allow the devices to interface without having to manually configure or even cross-wire any of them.

BPL could also be used to create an ‘intelligent’ power grid which would distribute power more efficiently and thereby reduce pollution or it could be used to shut down power to a small portion of a city, house by house even, during a fire or it could be used by police to shut down power in a house room by room or to turn on the lights and open the garage door by firemen in a rescue situation.

It makes one wonder what a hacker might be able to do to a fully BPL enabled house. “Honey, the microwave is trying to sell me Viagra again. My dinner is burnt to a crisp as well!”

The potential for information tracking and abuse both by criminals and agencies like the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security are staggering.

In terms of web hosting, this technology will certainly increase the demand for high performance servers as more and more people are hooked in to the internet for everything from climate control to TV channel information to email and websites are developed not only for use by people but for use by appliances. There will be a need for entertainment system configuration sites as well as home utilities sites, etc. but in the long term it points to industry consolidation for web hosting as memory, speed, and availability of the internet increase in the coming years. Only the biggest fish will survive as data centers become obsolete and replacement technologies are either too expensive or so cheap and widely available they would only be redundant.

Web hosts will eventually be forced to go beyond simply providing storage and connection to the internet into more service based areas like content management, development, and security.

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