Exploiting Gigabit Powerline Communications

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary University of London


Home networking allows different devices connected on the same network to communicate with one another. The increasing interaction between computers in our daily life has increased the demand for improved performance of home networks in terms of bandwidth and ease of installation. We therefore propose to now commercialise a high frequency powerline communication (PLC) technology that transmits very high data rate signals over electrical power distribution cables that has been recently developed in an EPSRC funded project at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL). PLC eliminates the need for dedicated cables for data transmission, and has already shown its potential not only in the area of home/office networking, where a reliable high data rate link is desired for the connection of various electronic devices and computers, but also in areas such as the video streaming of CCTVs on train carriages and maintaining data links in high electromagnetic interference environments where wireless links and other technologies fail.Existing PLC technologies can only transmit data at a rate up to 200Mbps. This is not sufficient for the smooth running of various multimedia applications such as online video gaming, digital audio streaming, and high-definition TV (HDTV) streaming. The technology developed at Queen Mary allows data rates of up to 1Gbps and supports the afore-mentioned media applications and others such as Video on Demand (VoD) and basic LAN connections. Our business idea is to develop a commercial prototype, based on the underlying technology we have developed, that allows high data rate transmission (up to 1Gbps) over the power cables in the high frequency band (50 - 550MHz) and provides a simple, flexible and cheap solution for the increasing demand of high data rate links in the home/office networking and other environments, compared with the traditional PLC and other wireless technologies. The proposed project has benefited since its beginning from the support from industry. We have worked with Artimi Ltd (UK), an ultra-wideband (UWB) wireless company and SiConnect Ltd, a powerline communication company in the ESPRC funded project. We have also worked with a security facility company, COE Ltd, who is interested in the exploitation of the technology for the data link of CCTVs on trains.. Another company, Powerline Technologies Ltd, has also expressed their interest in exploiting the technology for data links in environments contaminated by strong EM interference (e.g. connecting equipment in factories for 'flexible computer-aided manufacturing'). We intend to work with Queen Mary Innovation Ltd, the Technology Transfer Office at QMUL to licence the technology with these customers and develop further industrial relationship opportunities.


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Description This project has exploited different development aspects of a potential technology of the so called 'gigabit powerline communications'. The targeted and additional research tasks have been achieved in this study at the end, though there was disruption of the research personnel.

a) Carrying out further software developments and modelling. Further simulation of data transmission in the Physical Layer has been conducted over a range of broadband powerline channels. It has been demonstrated that very high data rate transmission can be achieved over a 50-550MHz band over the powerline.

b) Developing a laboratory demonstration system for the MB-OFDM UWB over powerline system. A MB-OFDM UWB Development Kit (Atmel AT91CAP9 UWB-EK) has been used that generates the MB-OFDM UWB signal in the FCC UWB frequency band, and provides a user interface to control the OFDM signal. A novel design of a pair of frequency converter circuits have been designed and fabricated. They are used to down-convert the UWB signal frequency, before being transmitted over the powerline and then up-convert the received signal back to the original frequency range. The concept of broadband UWB communication over the indoor low voltage powerline cables has been successfully demonstrated. Very high transmission data rates of up to 480 Mbps in the Physical Layer have been achieved in the measurements with a maximum PER of 2.1% .

c) Developing a commercial demonstration system for MB-OFDM UWB over powerline. The laboratory demonstration system is modified to provide ease of mobility and flexibility by integrating MB-OFDM UWB transmitter and receiver circuit boards, up and down converter circuit boards, USB blaster cables and power supplies into a portable briefcase box. Further testing of the developed commercial demonstrator with the project partners, COE and Powerline Technology Ltd will be conducted to explore a wide application of the technology.

d) Production of a technical file listing system parameters including OFDM optimisation, channel bandwidth and spacing that is required produce a customised low-cost industrial version of the system.

e) Completion of the analysis of competing technologies and techniques currently in the marketplace. It is shown that a high data rate link is highly desirable in home/office communication networks. The UWB powerline technology offers several major advantages in terms of cost, installment and energy consumption.

f) A patent on the key component - the broadband RF coupler has been filed to protect the developed technology, as an integral part of the commercialization strategy.

In summary, we have accomplished the project and developed a commercial demonstrator which has shown a very high transmission rate (up to 480Mbps) over powerline channel based on a commericial MB-OFDM UWB development kit. It is envisaged that up to 1 gigabit transmission data rate is achievable by employing a special designed silicon chipset over the powerline channel.
Exploitation Route Substantial efforts have been spent on acquiring the opportunities for commercialization and further funding to explore applications. For example, a joint bid on energy saving in street lighting control with Fluidata Ltd and Open University has been submitted to TSB Competitions for Funding for Collaborative Research & Development Projects ( not successful).
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics

Description The invented device - RF coupler was late used in two DECC funded projects on ' Demonstrating Increased Effective Range of ZigBee over Powerline'.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics
Impact Types Economic