After four years of study and pilot projects, the city of Manassas, Virginia, has become the first city in the country to fully deploy a BPL system throughout their city. The system is jointly operated by the city-owned electric utility and Commercial Technologies, Inc. [COMTek]. The city is providing the infrastructure for the BPL system and COMTek is providing the internet services.
Broadband internet accesss over existing power lines is now available for about 12,500 residential customers and 2,500 commercial businesses. BPL works through the local electrical utility and allows people access to the Internet simply by plugging their computers into electrical sockets throughout their homes and businesses. At the press event announcing the program, COMTek said that they already have 700 customers in Manassas, with another 500 requests for service now being processed.
The city began the BPL process back in May 2001 when it received a grant from the American Public Power Association (APPA) to establish a BPL pilot program in the city. Based on the success of the pilot program, the Manassas city council made the decision to proceed with city-wide deployment in October 2003. It took the city another two years to put the necessary infrastructure improvements in place and to integrate the electric system with the fiber optic network and with COMTek’s network services.