Industry Canada has launched a consultation into the use and regulation of broadband over powerline (BPL) technology. The department is seeking comment on the “specific industry standards and operational requirements that would be required if BPL systems were deployed. Moreover the department intends to take steps to facilitate the deployment of BPL technology in Canada while ensuring the protection of authorized radiocommunication services.” Comments are due Nov. 28, 2005.  While the department is just beginning to look at BPL and assess its future potential, trials have been taking place in Canada. Telecom Ottawa subsidiary Trytel Internet Inc., a Cornwall ISP, deployed a trial network within the Ramada Inn and Conference Centre in Cornwall ON last year (NL, June 22/04).  Responding to inquiries from power companies, manufacturers and other organizations, Industry Canada is working with a wide variety of stakeholders to understand the compatibility of BPL technologies and applications with other radio services.  Despite the nascent nature of BPL technology, the transmission medium holds significant promise in expanding the reach of broadband networks to unserved and under-served regions of the country.  “Since power lines reach virtually every home in Canada, BPL may provide an additional option to delivering broadband services to rural and urban areas. Furthermore, the introduction of BPL fits within the government of Canada’s federal broadband project, which was developed to narrow the digital divide between Canadians living in urban, rural and remote communities,” reads Gazette Notice SMSE –005-05.  While Industry Canada holds out great hope of using BPL to bridge the digital divide, there have been concerns expressed about BPL creating unwanted interference on existing radiocommunication systems. Services which could be affected include amateur radio, fixed mobile, maritime mobile, aeronautical mobile, fixed broadcasting, space research, radio astronomy and aeronautical radio navigation. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already undertaken and ruled on a consultation regarding broadband over powerline. It is very likely that Industry Canada will try to adopt rules that are in line with what the FCC has set out. “Considering the similarities between the U.S. and Canadian power distribution grids BPL manufacturers will view Canada and the U.S. as a common marketplace,” the department states in the Gazette Notice.  But work in other jurisdictions is at various stages of development: Some are still studying BPL, while others have allowed deployments. There are still other international administrations that have banned or suspended BPL trials until other international developments have occurred.