News

OPERA Approves PLC Access Specification

February 23, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

The Open PLC European Research Alliance (OPERA) has announced the approval of the first open global specification for Powerline Communications (PLC) access, also known as Broadband over Powerline (BPL). This specification will accelerate mass rollout of high-speed, low-cost, broadband access, voice and audiovisual services, as well as utility applications for control and management operations. Technology from Spanish chipmaker Design of Systems on Silicon (DS2) was selected as the baseline for the specification.

The OPERA specification provides a baseline for both PLC access technology as well as in-building applications, where powerline technology extends existing backbone technologies such as fiber to the home (FTTx), DSL and coax. The OPERA Specification has the support of the Universal Powerline Association (UPA), a group that includes leading PLC equipment suppliers.

"This is truly a major step forward for powerline communications. The level of industry cooperation and support has been overwhelming allowing OPERA to produce a specification that meets the requirements imposed by global electricity companies", said Victor Dominguez, Director of Strategy and Standardization at DS2.

Following an open call for proposals, the OPERA Specification Working Group tested technologies from various international vendors to evaluate performance, notching capabilities and industrial maturity against the blueprint requirements. The final specification includes contributions from various OPERA partners, including ASCOM, ADD, DS2, Dimat, EdF, Endesa, Iberdrola, Mainnet, Ilevo (Schneider Electric), PPC, Robotiker, Spidcom, Telvent, University of Dresden, University of Karlsruhe, and Yitran.

Brett Kilbourne, Director of Regulatory Affairs and Associate Counsel at United Telecom Council, stated - "This is clearly a major step forward. With numerous pilots and several major commercial deployments emerging in the US the time is ripe for a standard to facilitate mass roll-out."

The new specification provides for interoperability for non-OPERA technologies by means of a co-existence mechanism. This unique feature also guarantees that future versions of OPERA technology will be compatible with today's specifications, smoothing the way for investment in the technology. The OPERA Specification has the support of the Universal Powerline Association (UPA), a group that includes leading PLC equipment suppliers.