Tech tips: power line internet

21:26, Jan 16 2013

Internet access service through existing power lines is often marketed as broadband over power lines (BPL), also known as power-line internet or powerband. A computer (or any other device) needs only to plug a BPL modem into any power outlet in an equipped building to have high-speed internet access.

Joseph Locke, of California, asked if it is possible to get rural power line internet service in New Zealand.

In keeping with our pioneering spirit, we've trialled it. In 2002 a joint venture between Buller Electricity and ISP Tasman Solutions saw a BPL trial to supply the Westport region. That trial was apparently abandoned through radio frequency "leakage".

Around the same time United Networks initiated a trial to Northland homes, which was continued by Vector after its takeover of United. That trial was also wound down early last year when Vector found the service wasn't commercially viable.

Even though BPL has been abandoned in New Zealand, rural users still have a wide range of technology choices for their broadband internet connections, including ADSL, satellite, wireless and cellular.

ADSL is offered on some rural exchanges, and is now fairly common in many rural areas. The catch is the need to be within a five kilometre range of an exchange to receive the signal.


Satellite is available throughout New Zealand from the IPSTAR satellite. Broadband connections are available from Farmside, now owned by TeamTalk. has built numerous wireless networks around the Waikato, and the core network provides a great broadband experience.

Kordia built a $25 million rural wireless broadband network called Extend in 2003 with the backing of Telecom and Federated Farmers, and still has the option of upgrading that to a 4G system based on LTE technology using spectrum in the 2.3GHz band.

The Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) bid from Vodafone and Telecom (now Chorus) which proposed an expansion of fixed-line broadband and a wireless broadband solution based on 3G technology is now available throughout locations in the Waikato. Plans are available on Vodafone's website.

David Hallett is the Chief Nerd of Need A Nerd in the Waikato. Need A Nerd can be reached on 0800 633 326 (NEED A NERD). To ask a question email and be in with a chance to win Norton 360 Version 6 by Symantec ($129 for three PCs).

Waikato Times