BPL Update : Conversation With IBEC Monday Afternoon


Workers with IBEC continue their installation of the BPL network while awaiting word from Verizon
Workers with IBEC continue their installation of the BPL network while awaiting word from Verizon

UPDATED: Friday 10.24.08 5 PM EDT
Today we received a followup e-mail from Mr. Harry Mitchell with Verizon. He is continuing to look into the matter and has assured us that he will respond to the questions put forth.

By Tommy Stafford, NCL Web Edition 10.20.08

In the continuing saga with getting BPL up and running in Nelson County, Virginia we had another conversation with IBEC in Alabama today. Before I get into the details, let me say one thing and make it clear. I genuinely feel that IBEC is trying their level best to get this system up and going. Now that I am finally able to communicate with them, and in turn post updates here, I do get the feeling they are forthcoming in what’s going on. Have they been the best at this in the past, not at all, but I do believe this is the first time they have encountered such a complex situation as they currently have with Verizon.

IBEC is a relatively small company, but happens to be the largest distributor and installer of BPL in the country, an emerging relatively new technology. They have done this in many other areas of the country with no issues, Washington Island, WI, Martinsville, IN, Cullman, AL, to name a few. We do lots of firsts here in Nelson and this appears to be no exception. But again, these guys are trying, I firmly believe that, now more than ever.

Now on to the update. This afternoon Asa Gage, Director of Network Operations with IBEC called and briefed me on the status of things. As mentioned in our update last week here, Verizon halted plans to activate service to the BPL network based out of the Martins Store Substation. Last week I mentioned this was because of legal considerations, that was a because it may have been passed on from their legal department of at least reviewed, but this is definitely a safety and engineering issue, at least according to Verizon via my conversations with IBEC. For the record, incidentally, Verizon has yet to reply to any inquires we have put to them since last Thursday. None.

Asa told me Monday afternoon the hold up revolves around Verizon’s wanting to review exactly how BPL equipment is connected to their telephone network. It’s a lot more complex than that, but that’s fundamentally the issue. IBEC has now been asked by Verizon to supply various diagrams of how their gear is / or will be connected to Verizon. And for the record, since IBEC is the largest BPL supplier in the country, the have actually helped in designing or having input to the code (IEEE) Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, use as guidelines for the installation. According to Asa they have followed them to a “T” every step of the way.

The problems seem to be occurring because this is the first system where Verizon has ever hooked to a BPL network actually originating from an outside pole. In other instances they have always been hooked in a building, or similar structure. Again, IBEC has followed the standards set forth by IEEE all of the way.

Verizon has requested the diagrams and it “may” be as simple as reviewing them and that’ll be it. Personally I have my doubts, and since Verizon has thus far refused to communicate with us or anyone else, all we can do is guess at this point. Asa thinks it could be only a matter of a few days, and this might be over and the “switches” start getting flipped, so to speak.

It will be interesting to see what Verizon’s response will be after those diagrams have been delivered within the next 24 hours.

We will keep you posted, and at this point we again know nothing from Verizon in an official capacity. Their media spokesman for Virginia, Harry Mitchell, has not returned any e-mail requests since Thursday.

More as we know..


  1. Thanks again, Tommy & Yvette, for your follow through re BPL. I do not know what we would do without you as a valuable resource!

    The lack of attention from Verizon is nothing to be surprised at — I have always had problems getting to a human being at Verizon, regardless of the quality of a problem.

    This lack of ability to communicate is perhaps the largest single problem with corporate structures in the USA since no one seems to be able to stand up and take responsibility. Like Enron, etc.
    “Limited Liability” is being carried too far!

    But I wonder, has anyone talked to Gary Woods or Greg Kelly about these recurring problems? After all, CVEC started it all by trying to be of service, Bless Them!


  2. First of all, this is not a “recurring” problem, but rather a totally new type of challenge put before us by Verizon.
    Having said that, I can assure you that Gary is on top of things and doing all that he can to assist in a speedy resolution.

  3. Thanks Jace and Chuck for chiming in, this has been a roller coaster to say the least.

    While I do agree Jace that it is not a recurring problem but a new one, I also agree with Chuck in some respects. CVEC has done a poor job in communicating to their customers what’s been taking place. Regardless of how we all got here, we’re here, and CVEC has a duty, an obligation to let their members know what’s happening. I know this is an IBEC project, but they are using CVEC’s infrastructure to implement the system and CVEC’s billing system to bill the customers, at least that was initially the plan and have seen nothing to the contrary. CVEC is the general contractor, if you will, in a complex house being built that takes lots of plumbers, electricians, carpenter, finishers, etc. Ultimately, for better or worse, folks look there.

    There is nothing, nothing for CVEC or IBEC to hold their head in shame about here. Both are to be commended for having the, well let’s say, guts…to take on a project like this. No way this would have gone without the kind of hitches encountered over the past 2-3 years as BPL has slowly been implemented here. Anything good usually has a lot of heartache along the way before the prize is ever won. Look at football or baseball teams that practice day after day after day when no one is watching, but then wins the state championship. Most folks were never in the stadium until they became winners, so I sympathize with what both organizations have been going through.

    I hope Verizon is doing exactly what they say they are doing by simply looking over diagrams for safety reasons, but at this point there is no reason to blindly trust them either.

  4. I signed up for this back in early July with the promise (or so I thought), that I would have BroadBand by the end of July. I have called and called and called trying to find out the status of this. All they would tell me is that they were working on it and it would take another 3 0r 4 weeks. Today is the fisrst time they gave me any information on someone locally that I could contact. Now that I read this page, I can understand and am willing to wait for a while longer. But I truly think IBEC should do more than simply say “I don’t know anything and we’re waiting for the Martin Store Substation to get finished.” It wasn’t until now that I realized that there is more to it than just that. Thank you for putting this on the website that I could read about it and understand that there is more. One question I would have is this, “Is Verizon the only hold up?

  5. As I understand it Robert, the answer to your question is yes. From my conversations with IBEC, that is the only hold up. Thankfully they have continued to do their part on the installation side even though Verizon has held them up on the connection itself. Which means if Verizon ever turns their part over, IBEC can come up online relatively fast, as can you.

    In the perfect world, the T-1’s connecting to the internet would already be in place as they connected homes up, then they could live test right then and there, unfortunately because ma bell is being a bully, they are having to do that in reverse.

    We still have had no word from Verizon, they are obviously hiding on this one and do not want to respond, which makes me suspicious that more is in play, but we’ll see. I now have escalated my requests to the corporate offices in NY at the CEO level, since the VA Media contact refuses to answer our requests, whatever the reasons.

    So, the good news Robert, is that you should have BPL pretty quickly once this Verizon hitch is overcome.

  6. I would like to update everyone that IBEC delivered the requested diagrams and information on October 21. At this time we are still waiting to hear something from Verizon.

    On another note, as of today, we have shipped all backorders of modems. If you have not received yours yet it will be coming within just a few days. Please call customer service to register your modems when you receive them. 1-888-IBEC-BPL.

  7. Tommy, Asa, Jace and all our concerned team: I, probably like most of you, got an email from IBEC in the past two days trying to communicate and explain. They are to be commended for the effort. At the same time, in this web 2.0 age, their silence for so long [and the continued, expected, silence of Verizon] is hard to understand.

    I echo the praise to Tommy and Yvette for the valuable and visible log of our trials and tribulations. As I said in a previous thread, I wish I knew how to raise the public embarrassment level for Verizon. I don’t have the the contacts or know-how to get regional and national media interested in our little problem, but there seems to be the kernel of a ripe bit of rake-that-muck here for an enterprising investigative reporter.

  8. Verizon is (for lack of a better term) a monopoly and holding all of the cards.
    Why should they be embarrassed?
    We all “need” them.

    Too bad it’s taken 5+ years to get to this point.
    I’m sure it will all pan out but honestly, at $30 a month, plus $100 for the Modem, and all of this red tape, only to yield 256K…… It’s getting silly.

  9. What is happening? I found out last week by calling IBEC that BPL is “in my house,” but the connection is not good so maintenance has to be called. Come on folks, don’t you think someone could do something to get this thing working? It’s been over a year since I paid my $100 and received my modem. If you can’t get me online, at least tell me where I stand or what is happening. I realize I’m only one person, but there must be hundreds out there with the same problem. Letting us know something is better than what’s happening now! Silly’s the wrong word, it’s more like rediculas!

  10. Wow. Just got back from vacation and hey……. I have BPL.
    It’s working pretty well too. Speeds seem to be around 300kbps up and down. Not bad.

    I’d love to see how long it takes to impliment the 1500 kbps speed. Hmmmmmm.

  11. No question those speeds are better Erik. We just never got them on a regular basis here. Not even close. We’d be fine one day, terrible the next, etc, etc. As I have previously said, I like the guys at IBEC in AL. But their implementation and reliability of this system here in Nelson falls very short.

  12. Ya. It’s been hit & miss in the last 24 hours here as well.
    I tried the NTelos aircard and it worked great on 151 until I went up to my house. No service up my road. What a drag. John Apesa was really a great guy to work with too.

    It’s either Dial Up or BPL unless someone puts another tower in.

  13. I had my bi-monthly call with IBEC last week to see what’s up. They still couldn’t tell me anything new. “Engineers are trying to establish a connection” with the box outside my house, or the boosters along the way. They’ve been at it for months.

    I wish there was a way to test out an aircard without, well, buying one and establishing service 🙂

    I’m frustrated that the businesses that are 1.5 miles from my house can get verizon DSL, but we can’t!


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