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Best Readings in Power Line Communications

Digital communications over power lines is an old idea that dates back to the early 1920s, when the first patents were filed in this area. Since then, power utility companies have used power line communications (PLCs) for a couple of decades for narrowband applications such as metering and control. In the past decade, however, there has been a renewed interest in the possibility of exploiting power line cables as a broadband communications medium. Moreover, as opposed to the past where the focus was on low rate utility applications and broadband Internet access, today’s interests spans several important applications: indoor wired local area network (LAN) for residential and business premises, in-vehicle data communications, smart grid applications (advanced metering and control, peak shaving, mains monitoring, distribution automation), and other municipal applications, such as traffic lights and lighting control, security, etc. For some of these applications, products are already available on the market, allowing bit rates in the order of several hundreds of megabits per second (Mb/s). Such products are specified by IEEE and ITU-T standards, of by Industry Alliances.

The topic of PLCs is difficult as it lies at the intersection of several fields: circuit analysis, transmission line theory, electromagnetic theory, signal processing, and communications and information theory. It is certainly true that these considerations also apply to other (and more conventional) communications channels such as the wireless or the telephone channel, however, today, communications engineers have the availability of abstracted and simplified models for the wireless and telephone channels because the initial efforts devoted to the modeling of these classical channels date back many decades. Therefore, a shift from the electromagnetic and circuit analysis to the communication domain has naturally occurred with time. This is not yet true for the power line channel, whose modeling is still tied to approaches and tools of other-than-communications disciplines, so that adequate channel models have not yet been standardized, and there is no widely accepted channel model similar to those derived for mobile radio or telephone channels. The consequence of this is that a solid communications and information theoretic approach to PLCs is still lacking, and general results on the ultimate performance achievable over the power line channel are scarce.

Most of the published papers on PLC have appeared in the IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics, the IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, the IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, and the IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, whereas very few papers on PLCs have appeared in publications traditionally dealing with communications problems. This complicates bibliographic research so we believe that this Best Readings on PLC can become a valuable bibliographical resource to those starting to work on PLCs and who find themselves with the objective difficulty of dealing with a bibliography composed of many technical papers scattered across a very large number of diverse journals and conferences.

List of IEEE ComSoc journals/periodicals/conferences

Magazines and Journals

IEEE ComSoc owned and co-sponsored Magazines and Journals that accept papers on PLC are:

Additional IEEE Journals that accept papers on PLC are:

  • Proceedings of the IEEE
  • IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery
  • IEEE Transactions on Power Apparatus and Systems
  • IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics

Other non-IEEE journals that accept papers on PLC are:

  • Journal of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Hindawi)
  • European Transactions on Telecommunications (EIT)
  • International Journal of Electronics and Communications (AEÜ)
  • Journal of Communications (Academy Publisher)
  • Telecommunication Systems (Springer)
  • Journal on Advances in Signal Processing (EURASIP)


The premiere IEEE conference dedicated to all aspects of PLCs is the IEEE International Symposium on Power Line Communications and Its Applications (ISPLC). This conference was started in 1997 by communications researchers in Europe and Asia and became an IEEE ComSoc portfolio conference in 2006. ISPLC proceedings are available on Xplore starting from year 2005, and the proceedings for the years 1997-2004 have been made available online by the IEEE ComSoc Technical Committee on Power Line Communications (TC-PLC).

Main IEEE ComSoc portfolio conferences that accept papers on PLCs are listed below:

Additional IEEE conferences that accept papers on PLCs:

  • IEEE Transmission and Distribution Conference and Exposition
  • IEEE-Workshop on Power Line Communications
  • IEEE Consumer Communications and Networking Conference (CCNC)
  • IEEE International Symposium on Personal, Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications (PIMRC)

Highlight of 2014 updates

This 2014 update is based on a redesigned template, the list of best readings has been updated and revised when necessary, and best readings on new PLC topics were also added, e.g. EMC (with both radio and wires), MIMO, Smart Grid, and PLC for vehicles.

List of 2014 contributors

Prof. A.J. Han Vinck (Chair) – University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.
Bamidele Adelbisi
Gerd Bumiller
Francisco J.Cañete Corripio
Hendrik C. Ferreira
Stefano Galli
Lutz Lampe
Haniph A. Latchman
Ralf Lehnert
Anil Mengi
Riccardo Raheli
Andrea Tonello

Issued January 2015