Powerline Communications (PLC)

PLC is a transmission technology (e.g. for Internet data traffic) that can be used as an alternative to other transmission technologies such as xDSL (broadband technology on normal telephone lines) and CATV (broadband technology on the television cable network) on the so-called last mile.

Operators are often the energy supply companies that control and read their end devices with PLC (e.g. electricity meters) and could possibly offer their customers other telecommunication services via the electricity grid in addition to electricity.

PLC modulates a high-frequency data signal on an electrical line and uses this as a transmission medium. This allows data to be transmitted without using Ethernet or mobile telephony, for example. This means that communication networks can be built on existing medium-voltage and low-voltage grid lines.

Use on overhead lines is only permitted for a limited period and under certain conditions with a licence for frequency bands below 148.5 kHz.

PLC types:

  • On the one hand, there is "narrowband" PLC technology; this is located in the frequency band from 9 kHz to 148.5 kHz and is based on the CENELEC standard EN 50065 and enables data rates of up to 150 kbit/s.
  • On the other hand, there is "broadband" PLC technology; this is localised in terms of frequency between 1.6 MHz and 30 MHz and should allow the transmission of data rates of up to 5 Mbit/s (e.g. Internet, multimedia applications). There are currently no international standards for broadband PLC. In order to fully utilise all the possibilities of this technology, further standards must be developed at international level.

Obligation to notify

All operators of telecommunications networks with PLC technology in high-voltage networks (public or private), including domestic installations, must notify OFCOM of their installations. This applies in particular to networks for the provision of telecommunications services, for the monitoring and management of electrical devices (smart metering / smart grid) and for the transmission of information within a tunnel, a public building or several non-adjoining buildings.

If a PLC system is newly commissioned, extended, adapted or decommissioned, this must also be reported to OFCOM.

The following are exempt from this reporting obligation

  • private domestic networks (e.g. in a flat or in a house, with PLC adapters connected to sockets);
  • Networks that operate exclusively in the frequency bands up to a maximum of 148.5 kHz.

Statistics for the previous year must be submitted to OFCOM by 31 January of each year, listing the proven incidents, the telecommunications and broadcasting services which have been disrupted and the solutions which have been developed to remedy these incidents.

Reportings forms:


PLC as a technology does not require a licence. Telecommunications service providers, on the other hand, require a licence to offer telecommunications services.

Requirements for operation

In principle, a PLC network, like any telecommunications system, must fulfil the basic requirements of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electrical safety so that it can be put into operation and does not interfere with other transmission services. These basic requirements are formulated in the standards. In Switzerland, the operation of PLC networks is regulated by the Technical and Administrative Regulations (TAV) on wired telecommunications installations with PLC technology (Annex 5.1 to the Ordinance of the Federal Office of Communications of 26 May 2016 on Telecommunications Installations, SR 784.101.21 / 5.1).

Technical manual

Annex 5.1 - Wirebound telecommunications equipment using powerline communications (PLC) (PDF, 250 kB, 01.01.2021)This document is available in German, French and Italian only and in pdf format.
Please click on the desired language above in the Navigation Menu.

Specialist staff
Last modification 07.02.2024

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