BPL : Coal In Your Stocking : IBEC : No Joy Before 2009 : Update!

According to a December 15th post on the IBEC website, hundreds of customers who have already paid for their BPL modems will not see service before 2009. Click image for larger view.
According to a December 15th post on the IBEC website, hundreds of customers who have already paid for their BPL modems will not see service before 2009. Click image for larger view.

Scroll down for update 12.16.08 12:01 PM EST

As this web article is prepared tonight, I understand that if and when BPL ever becomes a reality here in Nelson County, Virginia our account will probably be the very last one activated. We’ll consider it a badge of honor. Enough is enough. In recent days some of you e-mailed or commented and said you had spoken with IBEC and had been told that some people might be activated around December 15th.

As Greg Heuer noted today in his comments:

“IBEC and December 15th? Here we are on the 16th. Rev. Thompson told us above the ETA was the 15th for some of our area. Has ANYONE seen/heard anything? Does anyone in the Martin’s Store roll out have service? Inquiring minds needs to know.”

The 15th has come and gone. Nothing. Ironically…..the IBEC website was updated on the 15th to essentially say it’s not happening before the end of 2008.

“We have continued to hang units ( well over 1/2 of the total units are installed.). The crews are hanging an average of 30 units per day. We also have continued to work with Verizon to have the T-1s installed. The remote T-1s (those not located at the substation will be installed and turned up by the first of the year. After that we will begin testing our network and turn on customers in each section as the network is tested.

The T-1s at the substation are awaiting an engineering report on the soil resistivity and other measurements around the substation. We have contracted with an engineer to do this report and will forward it to Verizon as soon as it is received. Once Verizon receives the report we expect the substation T-1s to be in within 30 days. We will then proceed on these circuits the same as on the remote sites, i.e. we will test our network and turn on customers in sections as the network is tested.”

The bold highlighted line above referencing “Once Verizon receives the report we expect the substation T-1s to be in within 30 days.” grabs my attention. At least on the surface it appears the data circuits haven’t even been installed and that process won’t happen until after the “soil resistivity and other measurements around the substation” are done. If history shows us proof of anything that means it will be later rather than sooner.

Remember this? It's a notice sent out in your CVEC electric bill way back in the summer touting BPL is Coming to you NOW!
Remember this? It's a notice sent out in your CVEC electric bill way back in the summer touting BPL is Coming to you NOW!

As stated so many times in our encyclopedia of past BPL articles since the beginning, we understand technical problems and the like. It’s part of the process. Six months of delays, however, is unacceptable especially since money was taken with the promise of BPL “coming soon”. The wording in the initial announcement made it sound as though it would be days or weeks, not months before BPL would arrive. Was it loosely worded and specific, yet vague , on purpose? Only the author knows.

Regardless, the lack of information flowing to the 1000 plus customers that have already signed up for and prepaid for modem equipment is no way to operate. While IBEC should be commended for making the commitment to go into areas that probably will never see high speed otherwise, they should also know that other companies are daily working to establish such networks here in Nelson while the wait for BPL is on. If others make it first, I bet I can guess where customers will go, especially if their deadlines are met and the communication is better.

Meanwhile, we all await….again.

Let the comments and discussion begin.

Updated post 12:01 PM EST

After our post up above last night, how coincidental, IBEC sent out this mass e-mail to their customer base this morning, nothing new, but here’s ours copied verbatim:

From: “IBEC Customer Service”
Date: December 17, 2008 11:28:22 AM EST
To: “info”
Subject: Martins Store Broadband over Powerline Update

Martins Store Broadband over Powerline Update

As you are aware, IBEC planned to have BPL subscribers connected to the broadband system much sooner and we apologize for the delays that you have experienced. Your patience and understanding is appreciated and we will be sending you an update on a regular basis to keep you better informed.

Installation of the BPL equipment: IBEC crews are installing about 30 units of BPL equipment per day. In lay terms, a “unit” is either a Customer Access Unit (CAU), which routes the BPL system into your home, or a BRU, which is part of the BPL backbone system. BRU’s, also known as regenerators, are hung about every 2/3 of a mile and pass the BPL signal from the beginning of the network to the end of the electric circuit. IBEC has installed 60% of the units necessary to serve the nearly 900 BPL subscribers enrolled in the Martins Substation service area. You may recall that IBEC lost time when the installation crews were called away to help restore service on theGulf Coast following Hurricanes Ivan and Gustaf. Since then they have been making good progress and should finish before the end of January.

Connecting the BPL System to the Internet: While the BPL system will carry Internet traffic to your home or business by way of the electric circuits, the “head end” or the starting point of the BPL system must be connected to the Internet. This connection is accomplished through “T-1” lines. IBEC has a contract with AT&T for the T-1 line service. Verizon is the owner of the “local loop” and is responsible for the installation and connection of the physical lines. IBEC has been extremely disappointed and frustrated with this part of the project and know that you are as well.

More on the T-1 Installation Process: The installation of T-1 lines at offices and other business locations is performed every day and normally takes about 90 days after the order has been placed. IBEC placed the order for the T-1 lines in June. Instead of 90 days, it took Verizon four months to install the physical lines to the Martins Store substation. To compound matters, after the physical installation, Verizon declined to activate the lines. Following some focused discussion, Verizon has agreed to complete the installation at Martins store and two other “injection” locations requested by IBEC.

Martins Store Substation, Afton & Faber: Due to strong enrollment IBEC added injections sites at locations in Afton and Faber to serve BPL subscribers closer to the end of the electric circuits. The Internet signal will be injected onto the powerlines near the midpoint of two circuits that run north along Route 151 and East of Route 29. Internet traffic will begin at these injection points and flow toward the end of the electric circuit. Verizon was scheduled to activate their T-1 lines at the Afton and Faber injection points on December 15 (12/15/08). IBEC was just informed that Verizon will take another two weeks before they activate those lines.

The Martins Store Substation activation will take longer but is on track. Verizon has requested an engineering report on the soil resistivity and other electrical measurements at the substation site. That testing will be done on Thursday, December 18. With this information, they will install isolation equipment. While much of this work could have been accomplished in the six months since the order for the T-1 lines were placed, there is a specific path that Verizon has indicated and IBEC will complete the steps along the path expeditiously. Once the engineering report is completed, Verizon has indicated they will activate the T-1 lines within 30 days.

So there is a summary of where we are today. While IBEC intended to have the Internet connected to the system at the outset and then bring customer online as the equipment deployment reached each home, it now appears that the BPL system deployment will be near completion when Verizon activates the Martins Store substation in mid to late January.

The project schedule has taken much longer than anticipated and we regret each delay, because we know that you are anxiously awaiting broadband service. While factors beyond our control have slowed the project, we will deliver BPL service to you and keep you informed with a weekly update until the project is complete.

We hope that this information has been helpful and ask that you contact us at service@ibec.net or through our customer support line 888-423-2275.

Meanwhile the wait continues…

Be looking for our upcoming BPL modem photo contest later today! Details soon!


  1. Diamonds from coal- My last post (& it was along time ago) said bell & edision had
    many problems in there time.With Internet (BPL!) or other, I have 5 fiber optic lines
    the size of my leg under my building! is so badly needed & offer off free dial up when you have no land line made me laugh.Bussness need broadband & a raining day bank account, ( thank god for angles). IBEC & our test site & test of patience,
    I remember investing my last $100 for modeum, is only part of IBEC’s goal we should invest & have patientce in them because BPL is the tiny part of there plan with world wide benfits. From he who has NO patientce, IBES’s main goal is security & that will be diamonds from coal! steve

  2. Mr. Thompson, First off I would like to thank you for the updates that keep us all informed so well. You are just like Tony the Tiger said you were. Now on to my point, I called to get the dial up (I don’t really want it) and was informed to call back another time due to their equipment malfunctioning. THat and along with the prolonged installation, I am just curious if this is going to be a reasonable expectation for service from IBEC? I have worked in the field of being a peon and you just did what you were told to do. I see the same things from the guys and maybe gals who are hanging the equipment. The same thing goes for the phone reps. I am no Nostradomus, but if I were to guess, I believe IBEC is having more of a problem then they will admit. Sure Verizon is probably taking their dear old time hooking up the T-1’s and thats great to know but if memory serves me correct (and the little search bar) IBEC said on Oct. 10th that Verizon was done. Then they said no they aren’t done, then they said Verizon will continue( that was on Oct. 31st). Nov 3rd email sent saying backhaul circuits resolved and most all the installation was complete and that would make it appear safe to assume that service would be on within weeks/month, right? Well here I sit on Dec. 17th @ 6 in the morning typing this. Trying not to succumb to the possible reality that BPL just isn’t going to happen as first thought. And as Paul Harvey would say: “Good Day”

  3. IBEC needs to step up and offer us some free BPL service IF it ever becomes available. I have a feeling that’s a big IF. If we’ve had this much trouble just getting up and running, how good is our ongoing maintenance and customer service going to be????? I’m wondering how bad I need the Internet. I know some of you do- NCL!!!!- but we’ve been without at our house for 2 years and been okay.

  4. There probably were some valid equipment safety issues associated with bringing T1 or fiber lines into a power substation. IBEC seems to have resolved those issues in a competent fashion and I expect the remaining obstacles to deployment will also be overcome.

    Nelson County has been on the leading edge of rural Internet technology. The Ntelos wireless service was one of the first successful large scale wireless deployments in the US. I think the Martin’s Store BPL system will be one of the largest and newest technology BPL systems in the country. IBEC is taking the time to make sure the system is reliable and provides good performance.

    BPL technology is actually pretty amazing. Power lines were never intended or designed to transfer high speed data but IBEC and their technology supplier DS2 seem to have overcome the technical hurdles. Soon we will know for sure. It is worth waiting for and I am hopeful the performance will be even better than the Ntelos Wireless Broadband service that covers part of the Rockfish Valley.

  5. Any of us who work with modern technology sympathize with IBEC. Reading the news about BPL, they are to be congratulated for trying to make this work. The issues are not about good intentions and cutting edge technology, but about communication. Good marketing and public relations, not to mention customer service for value received, dictate that IBEC do what was done a few days ago with the ‘blast’ email to those of us on the list much more often.

    Any of us who have had to deal with Verizon know how the customer service of the old Bell System has gone the way of the Dodo Bird. My father worked for Illinois Bell for decades. He is incredulous when I tell him how poorly Verizon treats its customers.

    I had Very Expensive Verizon ISDN service ($400-600 per month, depending on usage) to my office near Nellysford from 1999 to May of 2007 when, without warning, Verizon merely terminated the service. One Sunday afternoon my internet AND my office telephone were dead. Weeks and weeks of calls, pleas, and promises later they finally admitted it was just too much bother to maintain my service and I was out of luck. Thankfully, I had installed WildBlue Satellite over the top of the ISDN and I could continue to do business in Nelson County.


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