Key Emerging Trends in Power Line Communication

Power Line Communication Market and its Key Opportunities and Challenges

The Power Line Communication Market is valued at USD 5.5 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach USD 9.5 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 9.5% during the forecast period, as per a report by MarketsandMarkets. 

How use of power line communication technology for lighting control applications is an opportunity?

The power line communication technology is witnessing an increasing penetration in the lighting control applications. This technology can be used for both indoor as well as outdoor lighting control. In outdoor lighting, street lighting, such as roadway lighting, tunnel lighting, car park lighting, and urban lighting, is one of the upcoming applications where this technology is increasingly being used. Street lighting accounts for a significant portion of operating expenses incurred by municipalities and businesses with large facilities. Moreover, the lighting cost cannot be avoided, as it is necessary for public safety and operation; hence, municipalities and businesses are moving toward automating lighting networks for lowering the energy usage. Power line communication is considered one of the ideal technologies for this purpose. The advantages, such as no additional wiring required for setting up communication network, as well as network coverage even through walls, underground, and adverse weather conditions, offered by this technology has led to its adoption in the lighting control applications. Furthermore, this technology is increasingly being used for network expansion and lighting control in smart homes. A number of companies in the power line communication market are offering power line communication technology-based products for the lighting control application.

Why availability of various substitute technologies could pose a challenge?

The players providing power line communication technology face competition from other players providing wired and wireless communication technologies. Fiber-optic network is one of the communication technologies, which can be used for smart grid communication instead of power lines. The selection of the communication technology depends upon various factors such as infrastructure, application, and resources. For instance, the factors, such as frequency spectrum for wireless technologies, availability of fiber-optic cables, and quality and length of the power cables for broadband power line carrier, needs to be considered for the selection of communication technology for data communication in power utilities. At times, a combination of various communication technologies is also required to be deployed at the power utilities for effective communication and cost efficiency. At the consumers’ end, the selection of communication technology differs based on consumer’s requirements. For instance, in buildings, where a communication network is required only for the transmission of meter data and price signals, GPRS modems or narrowband power line carriers are sufficient. However, companies operating in the power line communication market are focusing on offering innovative products to compete with the substitute communication technologies.

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High penetration of broadband power line communication devices in indoor networking applications

The high adoption of broadband power line communication devices in the indoor networking application is one of the major driving factors for the power line communication market. The broadband power line communication adapters are increasingly being used in buildings for extending the Internet access. One of the major reasons for the wide adoption of power line communication adapters is the ease of use. For setting up a power line communication network, which requires at least two power line adapters, a power line adapter kit is used. Usually, the user needs to connect one power line adapter to the internet access device such as a Wi-Fi router and plug the adapter to the wall socket; next, the user needs to plug in the other power line adapter to the wall socket in the room where he wants to extend the internet access. A number of companies operating in the power line communication market are offering broadband power line adapters for this purpose. devolo (Germany) is one such company, and as of August 2017, it has shipped over 33 million units of its dLAN adapters.

High noise generation on power lines limiting the data transmission quality

Initially, the power lines were used for energy distribution and not for data transmission. The harsh environment of the power lines can negatively impact the quality of data being transmitted. Noise is one of the main distortion factors, which impacts the performance of the communication systems over power lines. Noise is generated by electrical appliances, which are connected to the electric grid, as well as the coupling of the radio broadcasters that transmit signals over short, middle, and long wave ranges. There is an inverse relationship between the noise on the power line and performance of the power line communication systems. With the increase in the noise level, it is harder to detect the received signal. For instance, light dimmers, vacuum cleaners, drills, and kitchen appliances are some of the noise-sourced devices, which can have a negative impact on the performance of a power line communication technology-based home network.

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