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Communication over power lines

Equipment for communication over AC power lines is available in different varieties for different applications. Such equipment has the potential to cause disturbances to other electronic communication and electrical equipment.

Narrow band transfer is the most basic form of communication over power lines and is used for remote reading of electric meters and/or the transfer of control signals for the low voltage network (230 volts).

Broadband access is another variant that involves the transfer of broadband signals between the grid station and the home. Broadband access can also include the distribution of homes.

Home network/LAN is a third variant of communication over the AC power lines that often referred to as "homeplug" or "homeplug ethernet". The equipment normally consists of small adapters ("home plugs") that are plugged into the normal electrical power outlets. Sometimes one of the adapters is connected to a telecommunications network while the other adapters are connected to the telecommunications port for each individual piece of user equipment.

There are different terms for these systems that use the power supply network as a transmission medium, for example:

  • Power Line Communication (PLC)
  • Power Line Telecommunication (PLT)
  • Power Line Networking (PLN)
  • 'Broadband over Power Lines (BPL)
  • Homeplug ("home network")
  • Homeplug ethernet 
  • LAN over power

It should be noted that the transitions and differences between these different terms are not always clear. For example, "PLT" in one text can mean the same as "PLC" in another text.

Norwegian regulations

Nkom regulates communication over power lines in the same manner as for other technology.

The Electronic Communications Act, Regulations relating to Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) for Communication, and Regulations relating to EEA Requirements for Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment contain requirements relating to equipment that is marketed, sold and used in Norway.

European standardisation

The European Commission has given the European standardisation organisations a mandate to create standards for measuring emissions from communication over power lines apparatus.

EN 50065-1:2011 is a harmonised EMC standard for measurements of emissions from narrow band PLC apparatus.
EN 50561-1:2013 (EN 55022:2010 for radiated emissions) is a harmonised EMC standard for measurements of emissions from in-home PLC apparatus.

Disturbances

Narrow band systems may cause acoustic interference (droning/whistling) in equipment that is connected to the power line in the home, for example in down lights, energy saving lights, oil-fired electrical heaters, PCs and TV sets.
Broadband systems and homeplugs may cause undesired propagation of radio signals due to the physical features of the power supply grid, which is not, in principle, constructed for transmitting these types of signals. This may cause disturbances to radio services.

Complaints

Interference problems relating to communication over power lines may be reported to Nkom.

Preferably should the the involved parties cooperate to identify and implement acceptable solutions.