Power lines may offer Internet connections

August 15, 2005

There are three basic on-ramps to the broadband highway: cable telephone line or satellite -- but electric companies may soon join the fray.

The idea, itself, is simple: use the power lines that go into nearly every home in the United States to enable Internet connections.

But the Christian Science Monitor reports it's not quite that easy in practice, since utility companies face some technological hurdles and they've had to be persuaded it's a profitable venture.

But a technology called Broadband over Power Lines has gained investments from major companies, including Google and IBM, and will soon be entering major markets.

"Our hope is that in the next two years you'll see millions of homes" using BPL, Kevin Kushman, vice president of corporate development at CURRENT Communications Group in Germantown, Md., told the newspaper.

A market research company, Telecom Trends International, is forecasting BPL revenue will rise from $57.1 million last year to $4.4 billion by 2011.

Electric utilities find the idea doubly attractive, since BPL can also be used for several tasks, such as outage identification, meter reading and monitoring lines for electric "noise" or other interference.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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