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Wireless Networking Communications Hardware IT

Motorola to Marry BPL and Wireless 79

prostoalex writes "Motorola is combining Intellon broadband-over-powerline chips with its own Canopy wireless systems to create an end-to-end broadband delivery system, where last mile delivery would be covered by wireless and broadband pipe would belong to electric utility. HomePlug AV standard will offer 200 Mbps downstream speed."
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Motorola to Marry BPL and Wireless

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  • by treff89 ( 874098 ) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @08:48AM (#13310778)
    This is, IMHO, the precursor as to what Internet delivery methods will be like, say, 20 years into the future. I believe that there will be a media of transport - such as powerlines - which is extremely widespread, even to remote areas. Piggybacked on top of this high-speed transport system will be cheap routers using whatever the latest wireless technology (think WiMax, but bigger). Thus, everyone who needs to can use the Internet anywhere, anytime, etc., maybe even providing for TV and the like. Perhaps it will even become a free utility?
    • Probably not 'free', but with all that people will come to rely on the internet, I see it becoming a 'utility', like gas or electric.

      Enjoy it while you can Comcast, you price gouging suckers. Its gonna be cheap soon!
      • Yes, because when gas and electric became "utilities" prices plummeted and we've been enjoying extremely inexpensive fuel ever since! Thank goodness for capitalism
        • It could even become more expensive. What happened with fuel? Started out expensive and exclusive, became cheaper and mainstream and now due to shortages it's becoming expensive and exclusive again. Here's hoping there's not any type of 'shortage' as it were in 'internet delivery'. A vast information overload? Corporate money-grubbing tears down the last isle of the free? Whatever happens it will get exponentially expensive at some point... it's just the way things work as our good friend #896692 just note
        • Just think what prices WOULD have been!
        • Electricity isn't exactly expensive, even in California. Compare it to gasoline, which isn't utiliticized (is that a word? It is now!) - people who've done the car electric-conversion jobs talk about their vehicles costing pennies a day in electricity against dollars a day in gasoline. Some of that's better efficiency ("braking" by turning your engine into a generator), but it can't all be that.

          Gas can't be that expensive either otherwise I'm sure people would be fueling their homes from propane tanks or

    • by mwilliamson ( 672411 ) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @08:55AM (#13310802) Homepage Journal
      Ok, by bitching about BPL interference aside, it's still going to be a big collision domain. (think ethernet hub) If you have users of any density, you'd still have to segment up the powerlines and feed each segement with fiber separately. This just isn't economically viable in dense areas. Powerlines are _not_ the future of information transport.
      • by fireboy1919 ( 257783 ) <> on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:36AM (#13310906) Homepage Journal
        Yeah, you'd have to do that somewhere around the step down transformers that deliver the last mile...isn't there something there that you could tie into?

        Oh, right.

        There's a large, weather-proof step-down transformer that you could put a fiber-to-AC based router into.

        Except when you don't because you're sending the signal out to reach two people out on the ranch. Fortunately, there's a whole hierarchy of the things, and you could put your switch at whatever level of the hierarchy is feasible for sustainable service.

        Remember, we're talking about what to do about the last mile. If you've got so many people that they're starting to have collisions, you can afford to put in more routers. This really addresses the problem of what to do when you don't.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        OK, just to clear up a few points about this technology:

        Canopy is a 'fixed wireless' sort of thing, so you would have an access point somewhere that could serve up to a few hundred or so subscriber modules. The subscriber modules would go on power poles, behind the transformers (ie, between the transformer and the end users). It would then be BPL from there into up to, if I recall, 8 homes or so. So, it lets you deploy Canopy to an area, but reduce your costs as you can feed more than one home with a single
    • by Mattygfunk1 ( 596840 ) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @08:59AM (#13310814)
      Perhaps it will even become a free utility?

      Someone always pays, and that would still be you every week. You just wouldn't need your credit card.

      Funny video clips and flash games []
    • You mean when emergency services will have to use smoke signals, or when HAM operators are a thing of the past? Yeah, let the good times roll. Just don't have a heart attack or have your house catch on fire.
    • The wireless future will belong to the first company to have a large coverage radius that does not have to be line of sight.

      I work at a company that does Canopy wireless broadband and it works great, IF you can see the tower.

      The problem with putting a canopy unit on an electric pole and feeding it in through the power lines, is that you would have to put an access point every two blocks to have the needed line of sight to feed the SM, which in turn pumps it into the house (unless your town happens to be in
      • A rule of thumb: carrier frequency should be an order of magnitude larger than the bandwidth. If your data rate is 9600 bps, you could get away with using high-frequency radio waves that do the "curve over the horizon" thing very well. Broadband it isn't. If your data rate is closer to 1 mega-bit per second, you're talking 10 mhz carier and you're going to piss off a lot of necessary services. (would still make it over the horizon) But you'd only have one subscriber per footprint at a data rate exceede
        • True, but if you are limited to line of sight, and, due to the geographical location, you can only get three customers off of an access point, it isn't financially viable to offer service. You have a lot of expenses involved with this. The backend, tower rent, back hauls, routing equipment, it all adds up quick. The only way it is going to be profitable is to sign up more people off of that expensive access point. And you can't do that with line of sight technology, unless, as noted, you just happen to end
          • Ok I see your point, Mine was that it is a tradeoff between line-of-sight and bandwidth. The same solution that works for Aspen, CO [] is not appropriate for downtown Manhattan []

            Implicit was my assumption that any system capable of servicing a profitable number of users at a data rate comparable to existing landline systems will require a carrier frequency that is line of sight anyway but that there are some benefits to that tradeoff that aren't readily apparant. One is antenna size, especially for direction
  • Marry? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ikkonoishi ( 674762 ) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @08:49AM (#13310780) Journal
    Rumor is that wireless is already pregnant.
  • Consumer, now that got my attention. One wonders whether this will be or is yet another hyped pipe dream only to be left swirling down the big stinky vortex of lost wossnames.
  • by mwilliamson ( 672411 ) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @08:50AM (#13310787) Homepage Journal
    Although homeplug is known to notch all the ham bands fairly well, it's still disturbing to many other HF spectrum users, such as SW listeners. MV lines are simply not designed to carry RF. Another issue...packet sniffing anyone?
    • With the amount of wireless data currently floating around, why are you more concerned about sniffing this kind of interference?

      The question has never been is my data private, its always been are they interested in what I have to say.
    • Although homeplug is known to notch all the ham bands fairly well, it's still disturbing to many other HF spectrum users, such as SW listeners. MV lines are simply not designed to carry RF. Another issue...packet sniffing anyone?

      Sorry man, I can't tell WTF you're talking about. Maybe some more acronyms would help.
      • legend:
        1. HF = high frequency, typically between 1-30 MHZ
        2. SW = shortwave broadcast, on various segements between 1-30 MHZ
        3. RF = radio frequency
        4. MV = medium voltage, the lines around neighborhoods terminating with 'can' transformers which feed homes
        This'll teach me to to post before I get some coffee in me...
    • Sending signals over unshielded cables is always a bad idea. But sending them over something as unsuitable as power lines, with their horrendous impedance mismatches, is a crime against nature. The level of man-made radio noise on this planet will rise to unprecedented levels.
  • Too Expensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pcjunky ( 517872 ) <> on Saturday August 13, 2005 @08:52AM (#13310795) Homepage
    Their Canopy components would need to get a lot cheaper for this to be affordable for residential broadband. Subscribers modules retail for over $500 now. Typical broadband cable modem or DSL modem costs around $100.
    • Re:Too Expensive (Score:3, Informative)

      by sidney ( 95068 )
      You can get them for $280 each in lots of 25 [] which could put the price in the range for an ISP to offer at cost with a one year contract lock in (making their profit on the ISP service). And as with all electronics, the price will only get cheaper as the technology advances and as the production volume goes up if and when this becomes a popular consumer technology.
      • Also, with the FCC doing whatever the DSL and Cable incumbents say, longer-distance wireless is possibly the only place we'll get competition.
    • Re:Too Expensive (Score:3, Informative)

      by ar32h ( 45035 ) *
      Funny, the ISP where I work sells them for $300 each, no contract. We sell them so fast that we are always running out of stock.

      The $300 is high enough that people feel committed to the service (we don't need contract lock-in to keep customers) and is low enough that most of our customers can afford it. They can always take their SM to one of our competitors if they don't like our service.
      • It may be that your company is selling them below cost to get the customer as a subscriber. Ecomm Wireless shows a price of $595.00 for a 5.8GHz SM. If this is going to compete with cable and DSL they need to provide a less than $50 month service with at least 1.5Meg bandwidth. Sprint (our local ILEC) is dropping the price of their DSL product because they can't compete on performance (5 Megs download speed) with the cable company. 1.5Meg DSL now costs only $34.95. Both the the phone company and the cable c
        • As a contractor for Charter doing home broadband installs, i have to say i hate the zero cost installs...makes for long work days...too many people ordering broadband, i worked 13 hours yesterday, doing nothing but broadband installs
    • As I mentioned in an above post, unless the houses are in a great location, you would have to have a large number of access points to reach these SMs mounted on posts.

      Even with 900 Mhz, you still have line of sight issues unless you are very close to the access point. Putting the SM on a telephone post helps the problem, but it does not solve the problem because in many cases the trees are still higher than the pole. The only real-world solution is more access points, that would have to mounted very high, a
  • by SEWilco ( 27983 )
    One hopes they're using a wireless technology immune to the racket broadcast by their power lines.
  • Anything to give me more choices for broadband is a good thing. Question is, what's the ping time going to be? Gotta be able to kill those damn Hibbies.
  • not really 200mbps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jleq ( 766550 ) * <> on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:18AM (#13310853)
    They advertise 200mbps at the speed now, kind of how when cable internet was first emerging it was advertised at 45mbps (which it is capable of under good conditions assuming you don't have a cap). However, we all know there is going to be a cap of some kind. Plus, due to potential RF interference issues, I wouldn't be surprised if BPL gets shot down by the amateur radio crowd.

    I'm a big fan of the idea of faster internet access available to everybody. Especially those who live in rural areas. Nonetheless, given the success of power line networking up to this point, I'd say it's best to leave communications and power seperate.
    • Cable internet has a very, very high theoretical speed- if the cable co wants, they can keep opening up channels to give more speed to an area. I don't know if 200mbps is the theoretical limit for BPL to be split among the various subscribers, of it is really a per-subscriber limit.

      As far as interference goes, if it causes problems, hams will let them know. BPL operates under part 15, so it can't cause interference to other licensed services (ham, etc). There are several instances of hams filing complian
  • Oh crap, my power went out... better call the electric company on my VoIP line and let them know! Oh crap, my internet's down too!!

    •   Oh crap, my power went out... better call the electric company on my VoIP line and let them know! Oh crap, my internet's down too!!

      Did Netcraft report that cell phones are
  • ARRL supports it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dtmos ( 447842 ) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:36AM (#13310904)
    The Motorola BPL system, the Powerline LV Solution [], entirely avoids transmitting data over medium-voltage (MV) lines (the ones commonly seen along roads). It uses the Motorola Canopy wireless system for this link. The Powerline LV Solution only sends data over the neighborhood low-voltage (LV) lines, after the transformer, using HomePlug. This greatly reduces the potential for interference. Further, the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL []), the organization of amateur radio operators in the U.S., was consulted during its development, had its interference issues addressed, and supports the Motorola Powerline LV Solution [].
    • ARRL says this "should reduce the probability of interference to radio amateurs down to a level where it is reasonable to address the remaining interference on a case-by-case basis" if it's done right, that in theory it's "better engineering."

      Comes down to, we who are ARRL members get to try to police another technological marvel and wonder against the companies that build things a little cheaper and a little worse than they promise.

      I'm pretty dubious. Engineers, they can do things better, usually, than t
  • Cue loud bitching and lawsuits by the incumbent phone companies in 5... 4... 3... 2...
  • There are loads of alternate delivery mechanisms for the last-mile Internet service problem, and this is just one more. Granted, it sounds compelling, but between now and when it might get implemented, utilities and ISPs will be seduced/distracted by half a dozen newer/better/prettier/cheaper alternatives offered by various technology companies.

    I've been using Current's BPL service for about a year now and it's been pretty decent. Except for fluctuating access speeds (range from 500kbps to 2.5mbps down)

  • Dvorak: The idea of a personal Internet connection over power lines is preposterous.,1759,896590,00.asp / []
  • by mdouglas ( 139166 ) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @11:05AM (#13311219) Homepage
    I evaluated the Canopy system about a year ago for a project at work. Motorola is a great RF company but they don't know IP networking very well. Some of the things I noticed were:

    -administration via telnet & http, no ssh or https
    -no way to filter administrative connections based on source IP address
    -administrative access is based on a locally defined username & password on each access point and subscriber module. they can't authenticate admin sessions from a radius or tacacs server
    -the encryption suite is proprietary. while they do use AES as the encryption algorithm, the overall protocol is not based on IPSec, WPA, WEP, or any other standard
    -subscriber modules use a manufacturers default encryption key to authenticate to the access point. a key management server must be implemented use a different key.

    I don't know if any of that has been fixed in the past year or not. I have no clue how they got this device FIPS 140-2 certified. Unsurprisingly the security through obscurity worshipping government agencies I deal with are completely ga-ga over the Canopy. They are in love with the idea that the Canopy runs on a non 802.11 a/b/g frequency (because obviously no bad hackers will ever find it).
    • I agree totally, I was up in Schaumburg a year ago to evaluate Canopy (I work for a VAR of theirs). I found the product to be balky, overly sensnsitive to multipath interference, using an antiquated modulation scheme and requiring rather large reflector antennas to get the signal more than a few miles. The technology is there. I also work with similar products from other manufacturers who can give a good 10-20 mile radio shot up to 155 Mbps. Motorola has been doing it's best to come up with more marketin
    • I've been using Canopy since mid 2002.

      Now you can only upgrade the firmware if you run the right flavor of linux or windows since they won't tell you how to upgrade units without the new CUNT (which kills units but they are only $300+ each so who cares.

      telnet uid is "root" and you can't change it and you can overload its http and telnet by lots of attempts.

      They send 64 byte blocks using DES which means once you find the right key, the rest are trivial. The have known about this for at least a year but thin
      • First off, some of your canopy info pages have proven helpful to me in the past, thank you.

        I've run CNUT on Windows and Ubuntu (they only "support" Windows and RHEL.)
        I just finished updating a few thousand units using CNUT on Ubuntu. 0 units bricked or requiring end user intervention to recover. Motorola has been very good about replacing the few units that have died on us.

        You can still upgrade the units without CNUT, the CNUT .pkg files are just ZIP files with all the firmware images and a manifest. Following the old instructions worked well the one time I tried it for the sake of curiosity.

        CNUT is just a Java front-end to a bunch of perl scripts that script the original update process. They even packaged up their perl bits in a tidy little module. You should be able to make CNUT run wherever Java and perl run.

        I would not run any Canopy Firmware older than 6.1, and you should have a really good reason to not be running 7.0.7 or 7.2.9.

        You should not have the management interface on a routed subnet. If you are that paranoid, turn on VLAN support and change the management VLAN. The management interface and daemons have a number of little quirks. None of them have caused any problems for us since we a) use private IP space for management and b) keep the management interface on a management VLAN.

        The AES unit uses a more powerful FPGA which costs a bit more. Granted that is probably not enough to account for the price difference.

        You can control some (SNMP) administrative access by subnet. It is

        They provide a access control server that is a bit crude, but it has good API docs and does what we want it to, which is control access and limit bandwidth.

        I'd like to see a RADIUS client as much as the next guy, but BAM works fine and has a well documented database schema and SOAP interface.

        If you are truly paranoid, get the AES unit and use the reset plug to disable the management interface and turn it into a dumb bridge.

        It is trivial to access a Canopy network if the network was thrown up in 15 minutes.
        It can also be virtually impossible to access if the designer has implemented a VLAN and subnet segregated network, is using BAM, turns off AP Eval, etc.

        In the end, I agree that their RF side is good and the code side could use some work. In practice, their code quirks are avoided anyway by using good practices elsewhere.

        The Canopy radios are neat little software radios (the only difference between them is the size of the onboard antenna and software load.) I can't wait for someone to figure out how to reprogram them for some other purpose (802.11 or TV tuner or something.)
  • They haven't solved the horrible interference problems [] caused by BPL yet, have they?
  • powerlines area great idea fulfilling the holy grail of reuse of resources, but when a tornado or thunderstorm blows through an area, it can wipe out a good portion of internet service for days vs. underground cable or satellite. Also, reuse has a downside usually, a single point of failure usually presents itself, which doesn't fall within the original philosophy of the internet.
  • "Wireless" is exactly the biggest problem with BPL: its RF radiation noise interferes with other equipment nearby. It might even have health effects, with high electric field fluxes, as have been reported in trials. I guess Motorola is enterprising in making a virtue of necessity, but they should also advertise the "free tanning spas" they'd install throughout our towns, if only appreciable by bees and Martians.
  • Will someone from Intellon PLEASE call Central Florida Electric Coop (like we're only 60 miles away up here) and get them to run field trials of this. There are many places out here in the woods where Helllsouth is thumbing their collective nose at customers screaming for DSL. If the coop sees a good reason to server their members (not just customers, we are all members of the coop) I think this could be a great thing. Just as long as the hardware can survive a typical season of Florida lightning storms lol
  • If this pans out, and a major company is saying it will, then this is a BIG deal.

    Funny, though, on what is supposedly the primary technophile site in the world, how few comments there are here.

    And funny how many of the comments are negative.

    And the naysaying comments are not well thought out or persuasive.


    Is everyone here a ham radio person or a lobbyist for the telcos, or what?

    • Seems like this an attempt to overcome "the last mile" problem by some player not the telco or cable company. Like the power company. Maybe the wireless could overcome the last mile as that's what it barely able to do anyway. But most major trafic after that must go fiber anyway. That even they would have to rent.

  • when it's available in my neighborhood and at a price point equal to or less than the $29.95 I'm paying now for 3Mbps DSL (and not getting 3Mbps, but that's another story.)

    I like the idea, but last I heard Internet over public powerline was less than a proven concept, let alone a product (not counting the home powerline systems). Particularly at 200Mbps.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.