Power communications over the last kilometre

Witts, David (2005). Power communications over the last kilometre. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f643


This thesis examines traditional methods of transmitting and receiving information over the last kilometre into homes and light industrial premises. As a direct result of the deregulation of electricity with the Electrical Deregulation Act of July 1989 [1] and the proliferation of large scale integration electronic devices such as microprocessors the need to transmit more data to and from such premises became urgent.

The last kilometre problem of getting information to and from the customer’s premises to the node or data concentrator for connection to the available services, such as the internet, applies to any supplier from those that need to transfer large amounts of date such as on demand high definition television to those wishing to read utility meters remotely.

Two competing techniques for transmitting small amounts of data at low data rates over the last kilometre between domestic and light commercial sites to the utility substation are investigated in this thesis. These techniques are narrow band VHF radio and low frequency power line carrier.

A literature survey investigates the traditional methods of delivery information and the use of home networks and the latest research in power line carrier and broadband power line. The basis of radio propagation is presented including Maxwell’s equations.

Two sets of trials are presented; the first set investigates a low frequency power line technology broadcast alarm system designed to inform residents living in higher risks areas around industrial sites such as oil refineries and chemical factories of important information and any alarm condition. The second set of trials, the radio trial, at 184 MHz, involved reading 2,500 domestic and light industrial electricity meters every 30 minutes during two week long periods.

Both the radio meter reading system and low data rate power systems are viable in getting low data rate information to and from domestic and commercial properties. Both systems may be retrofitted quickly and cheaply depending on the data rates and amount of data to be transmitted. The radio meter system benefited from careful site surveys including monitoring of potential radio interference; the power line carrier system also benefited from site surveys and monitoring of line disturbance and line impedance.

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