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Broadband connectivity to and within the home has been available to consumers for some time through various technologies. Among those technologies, power line communications is an excellent candidate for providing broadband connectivity as it exploits an already existing infrastructure. This infrastructure is much more pervasive than any other wired alternative (both to and within the home), and it allows virtually every line-powered device to become the target of value- added services. Therefore, PLC may be considered as the technological enabler of a multitude of future applications that probably would not be available otherwise. The most fundamental barrier to the widespread adoption of broadband PLC is the current lack of an international technical standard issued by a credible and globally recognized standards-setting body. Hopefully, this barrier will be eliminated soon through the work of the IEEE P1901 Corporate Standards Working Group. This group, which was created in June 2005, is entering a crucial phase. This article stresses the importance of standardization in the PLC context, gives an overview of the current activities of the IEEE P1901 working group, and also describes some of the technical challenges that the future 1901 standard must address to ensure the success of PLC in the marketplace.
Date of Publication: July 2008