A variety of broadband backbone technologies are nowadays available in many countries around the globe, revolutionizing internet access and enabling customers to easily get online and get Internet service with reasonable data rates.
In some countries very broad pipes (such as FTTH – Fiber to The Home) are available (with high cost tag attached), but in most cases the technology used for the backbone is DSL, cable modem, wireless, satellite or similar, providing a 0.5-2Mpbs (typical) connection. Even WiMax with 7Mbps or so is divided to several locations ending up in the same rate range per building.
In many countries these technologies serve as the backbone to an entire residential building, hotels and small office buildings. While these technologies cover the “last mile” and serve as the broadband link to the building, the question of how to further distribute the service in a cost-effective manner to apartments, tenants of MDU (Multi-Dwelling Units) and hotel rooms has yet to be addressed. Wireless solutions have limited coverage inside buildings and dedicated wiring is expensive and may require construction works.
PLC (Power Line Communication), is a natural choice for this purpose, as further described in this article. A PLC system designed for the specific purpose of Internet distribution offers many advantages for users and service providers alike and provides the missing “last inch” link or as it is sometimes referred to as “mini-Access”.
Why PLC mini-Access (“Last Inch”) System?
PLC does not require dedicated communication infrastructure – being a “No New Wire” technology, it utilizes the existing electrical wiring available in any building. A PLC mini-Access system is ideal for buildings where wireless networking is not easily supported and it enables service providers to avoid the time and expenses of wiring a costly dedicated communication infrastructure. In this sense, PLC is a complimentary technology to those used for the backbone and offers many advantages:
* Requires low capital investment and provides an instant revenue stream (quick and easy deployment) – with a base station unit (a PLC bridge) in place connected to a broadband backbone the building is ready.
* No need for expensive rewiring or post-wiring and no unnecessary redundant investment in connecting users that haven’t joined the service yet.
* Non-disruptive installation and no need to retrofit the building for new wiring. The building’s decor can be kept intact.
* Any electrical outlet in the apartment or hotel room is turned into an Internet access port. The Internet is quickly at hand at any receptacle.
* Easy to install and enables flexible scalability in adding a customer to the service simply by providing a PLC modem (the CPE – Customer Premises Equipment).
* Mitigation of environmental barriers, such as steel, concrete and other obstacles that interrupt wireless communications.
* Complimentary to multiple backbone technologies (such as DSL, Cable modem, wireless, Satellite and Fiber optic).
These advantages turn PLC to be the natural choice for implementation of in-building Internet distribution. It is worthwhile to mention that while BPL (“Last Mile” Broadband PLC using the HF band over the long external electrical grid) has been controversial to some extent, mainly due to possible interference it is claimed to cause (to HAM radio and others), mini-Access PLC is implemented inside buildings is expected to radiate much lower signals, if at all (wires are much shorter and in many buildings the constructed of still or concrete the signal is blocked by the walls). In any case, it is possible to mitigate such interference by means of implementing notch filters in the frequencies allocated to other services.
PLC mini-Access System Requirements and Entities
Unlike home networking applications, a system for in-building Internet distribution should have a centralized topology and many additional features, enabling commercial deployment.
It is not just a matter of putting together a few PLC modems that were designed for home networking. A mini-Access system is expected to have only uplinks and downlinks (end-user to central unit and vice versus) unlike the peer-to-peer home networking scenario and while full outlet coverage can be expected in a single apartment or a hotel room, covering an entire building with many floors and tenants may require additional means to verify adequate coverage. Therefore a mini-Access system should have the means to assure this kind of coverage.
In addition, service providers should have the ability to remotely control the system and its topology, allowing them to add or remove users without sending a technician to the specific location and with no need for physical connections or disconnections. Service providers should be able to monitor the traffic and get performance indications on the PC screen in their office and to remotely upgrade the software of the system and the end-user units in a completely transparent manner to the end user.
These features are missing in peer-to-peer networks. A system is not formed by the physical connection of the units only, but rather by the implemented topology and the remote control, monitoring and upgrade capabilities.
In general a mini-Access system should have 4 basic network entities:
1. BST â€“ a base station, which is the unit that serves as the PLC bridge between the backbone and the network implemented over the building’s electrical wiring
2. MNG â€“ a management unit, enabling the service provider to control the system from a remote location via a standard web browser interface or other
3. RPT â€“ a repeater station, that is used to provide enhanced connectivity that may be required in large installations
4. RMT (CPE) â€“ the remote station, used by the end user and connected to the AC outlet and the end-user PC. Having all these entities in place allow the implementation of a mini-Access system for in-building Internet distribution with all the required features.
PITEL™ â€“ Providing Internet through Electrical Lines
The PITEL mini-Access System uses Yitran’s robust PLC technology to deliver broadband Internet service over a building’s existing electrical wiring for a cost effective, scalable, and reliable means of enabling broadband connectivity. Target markets for the PITEL include hotels worldwide and countries with emerging needs for quick implementation of low cost Internet distribution solutions, in Asia, East Europe, South America and additional parts of the world. System implementation is easy and straight-forward, fulfilling the needs of MTU (Multi-Tenants Unit), MDU (Multi-Dwelling Units), hotel guests and office customers. The architecture of the system leverages Yitran’s robust broadband PLC chipset. The technology and design provides high performance and immunity to interference and noise, such as those created by electrical motors, fluorescent and halogen lamps, switching power supplies, etc.
Yitran’s PITEL mini-Access System is a low-cost robust networking solution designed for deployment in challenging environments. The system is ideal where traditional connectivity using hard-wired or wireless technology doesn’t exist or is not economically or technically feasible.
Having all the required features, Yitran’s PITEL system enables service providers, VARs and OEMs, to offer an affordable high performance solution to system integrators, building owners, facility managers, hotel chains and commercial customers (for more info refer to: www.yitran.com/pitel.htm).