Power Line Carrier Study

Power Line Carrier (PLC) systems have been used in the power industry since the early 19th century. Since those early days there has been two world wars, the birth of the internet and an explosion in digital communications. With modern applications requiring fibre optic and microwave based transport systems, PLC is often overlooked as a suitable communication medium. However, where only low volumes of data are required, and they have to be transmitted over long distances, PLC technology can still be considered a practical and economic technology. In 2015, Mitton ElectroNet was commissioned by a client to investigate and report on the current status of the PLC industry.

Mitton ElectroNet undertook a strategic review considering the applicability and cost of PLC systems against an architecture and design specific to the clients network requirements. In particular, the study focussed on the technology and architecture that is possible within the digital environment through the use of digital Power Line Carrier (dPLC) systems. Surprisingly enough, the PLC industry is not only alive and well, but it is thriving in today’s electrical industry where diverse Teleprotection and thin route data links are required to supplement primary fibre and microwave communication networks. In particular, if long haul links are required over arduous terrain, dPLC may be an economic alternative to building long-haul fibre networks or developing radio repeater stations.

This project was of particular value to the client as our strategic review of the technology, coupled with a market review of suitable equipment suppliers, allowed the clients budgets and architecture to be defined to enable a better comparison with alternative fibre optic and microwave radio options.