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Euro group pushes broadband powerline standard

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EE Times

MUNICH, Germany — The Open PLC European Research Alliance (OPERA), a European initiative to develop broadband over powerline technologies and specifications, plans to release its specification by the end of the year and propose it as a global standard.

The specification will cover the PHY, MAC and equipment for broadband PLC (or Powerline Communications, as the technology is better known in Europe).

The OPERA group links European universities and companies developing chips and equipment for broadband and utilities. Its Euros 20 million budget comes in part through the European Commission’s efforts to push the use of broadband over powerlines on the continent.

The group suggests its standard will be the only really open PLC system that ensures full interoperability for broadband access and in-building distribution systems without recourse to proprietary technologies.

The alliance has recently submitted its proposals to the European telecommunications standardization institute (ETSI).

It says the final document is in "advanced status of development" at the OPERA Specification Working Group, and plans to release the specification by the end of December. The steering committee agreed during its September meeting in Mannheim, Germany, to work closely with the Universal Powerline Association (UPA) to ensure this standard fulfils the requirements of all international markets and to promote it on a worldwide basis.

"I am very excited at the prospect of the availability of a public, open, specification", said Laurent Feltin, of French utility EDF and co-chairman of the working group. "This represents a significant step forward in broadband access over power lines. Utilities and telcos will be able to use Powerline infrastructure using standard solutions from multiple manufacturers to extend broadband access to communities who would never have had access to such services."

Member companies such as Swiss group ASCOM, Spanish powerline chip developer DS2, and Schneider Electric Powerline Communications say PLC equipment based on the OPERA standard will be on the market very early in 2006.

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