TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: California Okays Broadband Over Power Lines Test

California Okays Broadband Over Power Lines Test

Reuters News Wire (
Thu, 27 Apr 2006 14:34:46 -0500

Calif. agency OKs broadband-over-power-lines test

The California Public Utilities Commission approved a plan on Thursday
allowing providers of high-speed Internet services to test the use of
electricity lines to deliver online access throughout the state.

CPUC commissioner Rachelle Chong, who drafted the plan, said broadband
over power lines, or BPL, could become a new competitor to Internet
services delivered via telephone, cable and satellites and help reduce
prices for consumers.

BPL uses existing utility lines delivering power to neighborhoods to
carry broadband signals into homes.

It has been touted by equipment makers and regulators as a possible
competitor to cable and telecommunications services, which handle
almost all of the roughly 40 million U.S. residential broadband

BPL technology also could allow utilities to develop so-called smart
grid applications to more actively monitor and manage the distribution
of electricity, said Chong, a former member of the U.S. Federal
Communications Commission.

Until recently, U.S. utilities interested in BPL have faced various
financial and technical problems, The signals that carry data over
electrical lines can cause interference with radio equipment and can
travel only a short distance before weakening, requiring repeaters in
many areas.

Nevertheless, utilities like TXU Corp., Texas's largest utility, and
Cinergy Corp. in Ohio are exploring the service with privately held
BPL provider Current Communications Group.

The regulatory commission adopted guidelines for electric utilities
and companies that wish to develop and test projects in California.

Among the guidelines, electric utility affiliates and other developers
can invest in and operate BPL systems.

Utility affiliates would have to follow CPUC rules for transactions
between a utility and a BPL affiliate to protect against
cross-subsidies, the commission said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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