LONDON European regulators are urging governments and industry to increase R&D efforts into and deployment of broadband over power lines to homes and small businesses.
The European Commission (EC) this week issued a recommendation to national telecommunications and utilities regulators to remove "any unjustified regulatory obstacles," especially from utilities, in order to open up the market for providing broadband over the power grid.
Similar to recent statements by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, the EC sees "power line communications" (PLC), as it is known in Europe, as a way to liberalize the market and potentially cut the cost of broadband delivery.
National regulators are being urged to ensure a level playing field for PLC providers by making sure they do not face stricter standards on interference than those faced by other technologies.
The EC estimates that PLC could potentially increase broadband penetration in the 25 member states by between as much as 10 percent, particularly in rural areas. So far, there are few commercial broadband-over-power line networks, but trials are underway in Germany, Spain, France and Italy.
The Commission is also backing several R&D projects under its directive aimed at developing devices and equipment, pushing stndardization efforts and removing one of the perceived drawbacks to PLC interference with existing radio transmitters.
The most important of these is the Open PLC European Research Alliance for new generation PLC integrated network (Opera), which has a budget of about 20 million euros, including 9 million euroes from the European Commission.
In its latest pronouncement, the EC suggested that concerns over interference should not allow utilities to refuse to offer access to broadband service providers over their transmission network. The Commission argued there are fewer problems with interference than before, and that any remaining problems can be overcome relatively easily.