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Electric Utility Broadband Seeks a Market

Kagan Research reports that broadband delivery over electrical power-lines (BPL) is finally reaching the marketplace, but will this new technology actually get deployed on a mass basis? BPL faces growing competition from Wi-Fi, WiMAX, telco-deployed fiber optics and new DTH broadband initiatives.

"For many, it's an open question as to whether BPL is entering the market too late with all these other broadband platforms in advanced stages," says Christy Rickard, associate analyst with Kagan Research. "Yet this technology may gain traction even as a late-comer if it is successful in providing power companies with electrical grid management. This would give BPL two revenue streams � consumers for broadband Internet access and power companies to monitor their electrical lines."

BPL uses existing electrical power lines � which already blanket the nation � to deliver high-speed Internet broadband on which Internet protocol voice and IPTV can also travel. The Federal Communications Commission authorized BPL in 2004 and President Bush's pronouncement that same year that he wanted Americans to have "universal, affordable access" by 2007 raised expectations. But since 2004, the U.S. has dropped from 14th to 16th among nations in broadband penetration, and BPL has not gained any significant market momentum.

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