TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Utilities Take Pass on Offering Broadband

Utilities Take Pass on Offering Broadband

Monty Solomon (
Tue, 26 Oct 2004 21:39:58 -0400

Most firms skeptical of providing service over power lines

By Peter J. Howe, Globe Staff

The nation's top telecommunications regulators are convinced that
electric-power lines are finally ready to become a revolutionary new
way for Americans to get high-speed Internet access, unleashing
competition for cable and phone giants.

But the utility companies that would actually deploy the services
remain overwhelmingly skeptical. Of the nearly 160 investor-owned
utilities in the United States, dozens have tried out 'broadband
over power line' systems. Only one -- Cinergy Corp. in Cincinnati --
has moved ahead with a significant commercial rollout, so far
attracting barely 1,500 subscribers. Dozens of utilities that ran
trials of the service in the last three years took a pass on making a
business venture of it.

Locally, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. is starting up a 25-home
trial in Agawam of a hybrid system that carries Net traffic on
medium-voltage lines and uses wireless gear for the last-mile
connection to homes. But the state's two dominant electric utilities
are both steering clear.

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