Not So Fast, BPL

Here's a good one for you: A new study predicts that broadband over power lines (BPL), a would-be rival to cable modems and DSL lines that keep stumbling and bumbling, will grow faster than cable and DSL over the next five years.

Say what? Yep, you read that right. The study, conducted by Parks Associates , finds that BPL will "outpace" the two rapidly growing broadband leaders between now and 2011. It predicts that "consumer and competitive demands will lead to a strong growth rate in residential subscribers for BPL," beating out all other high-speed access methods.

So, with cable operators and DSL providers now signing up more than 4 million new subscribers apiece each year, does that mean that BPL will add 5 million or more customers every 12 months? Will BPL suddenly emerge as the third major broadband force after years of big talk but little else by the utility industry and its equipment suppliers?

Nah. It just means that BPL, starting from a teeny-tiny base of an estimated 400,000 customers this year, will boost its subscriber total by a not-really-all-that-impressive six-fold to 2.5 million by the end of 2011. That sum amounts to no more than a sliver of the 51 million broadband subscribers in the U.S. today and the 80 million or 90 million that analysts think there could be in five years.

Which brings to mind the wise words of Miss Emily Litella, the memorable character created on Saturday Night Live by the late Gilda Radner (See Emily Litella.) "Oh, that's quite different," she would say after realizing that things weren't quite what she thought. "Never mind."

— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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