Power-line communication (PLC) carries data on a conductor that is also used simultaneously for AC electric power transmission or electric power distribution to consumers. It is also known as power-line carrier, power-line digital subscriber line (PDSL), mains communication, power-line telecommunications, or power-line networking (PLN).
A wide range of power-line communication technologies are needed for different applications, ranging from home automation to Internet access which is often called broadband over power lines (BPL). Most PLC technologies limit themselves to one type of wires (such as premises wiring within a single building), but some can cross between two levels (for example, both the distribution network and premises wiring). Typically transformers prevent propagating the signal, which requires multiple technologies to form very large networks. Various data rates and frequencies are used in different situations.
A number of difficult technical problems are common between wireless and power-line communication, notably those of spread spectrum radio signals operating in a crowded environment. Radio interference, for example, has long been a concern of amateur radio groups.