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Powerline communication in the smart grid

Powerline communication uses the existing line infrastructure of the distribution networks for data communication. To do so, an additional signal is modulated onto the power line that will not impede the original use.

The pivotal advantages:

  • high availability: All pertinent points in the power grid are reached directly.
  • 100 percent building saturation: even to the metering points in the basement
  • self-sustaining use of the system's own infrastructure: independent of performance and availability of other networks such as GPRS/ LTE or glass fibre
  • cost-effective: No ongoing costs for data communication where power line communications are used.
  • as scalable as desired: New meters or measuring devices can be integrated at any time easily into the existing PLC network.

Broadband Powerline

  • At a glance
  • Applications and white paper
  • technology
  • Multiphase coupling

At a glance

Broadband Powerline (BPL) is ideal for smart metering and data communication of value-added services via the smart meter gateway.

  • extraordinary data performance (200 Mbit/s)
  • 400 meters configurable range between the devices
  • short response times
  • robust connectivity thanks to modern standard
  • investment protection through international standard ITU-T G.9960 (
  • easy installation thanks to zero touch deployment

Applications and white paper

Broadband Powerline is the ideal last mile technology. It reliably connects all intelligent measuring systems (iMSys) with the BPL Headend in the local distribution station, where the changeover of data transmission technology takes place. In most cases, local distribution stations are connected via optical fibre or a wireless connection.

Value-added services managed by the intelligent measurement system can also use the BPL network for communication. The highly available BPL network convinces with its short response time and high data rates.


White paper BPL for the roll-out technology

devolo was specially developed for the challenges of the Smart Grid:

  • Zero touch deployment: devolo products include a so-called "zero touch deployment". All devices produced for an energy supplier customer are automatically (Germany-wide) connected to any PLC domain of this customer.
  • The advantage: the installation technician does not have to carry out any configuration. Connect it, and you‘re done! The devices connect and configure themselves.
  • Domain changes automatically (Automatic Domain Selection): For the remote devices (end nodes, smart meter gateways, repeaters), the headends with the best connection properties are selected automatically.
  • Dynamic change in case of losing the domain: All remote system components can automatically integrate into adjacent domains if required.
  • Multistage data encryption: With transport layer encryption according to AES128, devolo already offers a considerable hurdle for intruders at PLC level. In addition, both management and data communication takes place via secured VPN tunnels. BSI-compliant data encryption at SMGW level adds another level of encryption.
  • Network management via SNMP: devolo uses the SNMP v3 protocol. It is also possible to integrate the devolo system components into complex network management systems (umbrella system). The devolo BPL Headend acts as an SNMP proxy for the downstream repeaters and end devices.
  • Transmission paths: In addition to single-phase coupling, multiphase coupling for infrastructure components is also available.
  • International standards: The ITU-T G.9960 ( standard is currently the most modern and reliable PLC standard in the smart grid. devolo has also fully implemented a co-existence with the international standard EN50561-1. This means that devolo actively detects radio services and proactively avoids their frequencies "as a good neighbour".


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Multiphase coupling

Multiphase coupling uses all three phases (L1, L2, L3) and the neutral conductor (N/PEN) for data communication. The two paths L1/N and L2/L3 ensure that the data packets find the quickest way to their destination.
If interference signals and attenuations decelerate a path or prevent a transmission, the data communication is maintained through the second channel.


G3 Powerline

  • At a glance
  • Applications
  • Standardisation / G3-PLC Alliance
  • Reference film

At a glance

G3-PLC technology is a worldwide common standard for data communication in power grids.

  • long range
  • no repeaters
  • for smart grid scenarios
  • for smart metering without value-added services
  • worldwide standard

G3-PLC technology uses the frequency band between 10 and 500 kHz for data transfer. This allows for a data communication over long distances. Repeaters are usually not required. The excellent network coverage is a huge advantage for the G3-PLC technology. In field tests on the low voltage system, devolo and its partners have measured ranges of up to 1.7 kilometres. On the medium voltage even over 11 kilometres have been managed.


G3-PLC lends itself particularly well to smart grid scenarios like network monitoring and network control. But it is also an alternative to data communication via outdated analogue telephones or CSD radio.

The possibility of bridging large distances with G3-PLC goes hand in hand with a lower bandwidth. The actual transfer properties are always dependent on the local conditions and the network topology. For smart grid applications, the network technician has an adequately high transmission speed at their disposal.

Standardisation / G3-PLC Alliance

G3-PLC technology is in use successfully world wide and standardised under ITU-T G.9903.

The G3-PLC Alliance has established a corresponding certification program to allow for the interoperability of the different devices and their implementation. devolo AG is a committed member of the G3-PLC Alliance. Dr. Anil Mengi, Director Strategic Positioning & Innovation at devolo Smart Grid, leads the marketing of the G3-PLC Alliance.


White paper Regulation-PLC

Reference film

devolo has many years of experience with G3-PLC technology. devolo completed one of the first field tests together with Vattenfall already in 2012. Watch our short project film.

Comparison: PLC technologies in the low-voltage grid

devolo BPL Modem

devolo G3-PLC Modem 500k

Configurable range (dependent on network properties and on topology)

400 metres

1 km

Gross data rate

200 Mbps

500 kbps

Configurable data rate (net)

20 Mbps

Up to 50 kbps

Response speed

Typically 60 ms

Typically 160 ms


Required for a comprehensive BPL network

Usually not required

Usable frequency band

2 - 25 MHz

150 - 490 kHz


4096/1024/256/64-QAM, QPSK, BPSK (OFDM)


Data coupling

Inductive or capacitive


Special feature

Suitable for value-added services in smart metering

Retrofit. Using the serial port (RS232/RS485), older devices can be connected communicatively

Data coupling

The devolo BPL modems can be connected capacitively (for a uniform network coverage) or inductively (to achieve longer ranges). Hence the most suitable form for the data coupling onto the power line can be selected with great flexibility for any network topology and any roll-out scenario.


Go to devolo BPL Headend


More information about the inductive data coupling can be found, for example, at the company website of Eichhoff Kondensatoren GmbH.


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