One of the more interesting technologies to bring high-speed Internet access to the masses got a boost last week when search engine leader Google
Along with Goldman Sachs
Internet access over power lines is one of a handful of broadband access technologies competing for critical mass. WiMax, the successor to WiFi and dubbed "broadband on steroids," has gotten most of the attention these days, particularly with Intel
Most analysts think Google made this investment simply to continue expanding broadband access. The more people getting onto the Internet, the more likely they'll find uses for Google's varied services.
Power line broadband access transmits radio frequency signals over low- and medium-voltage power lines. Communication networks over power lines have been contemplated since the 1950s, but early BPL equipment created interference with emergency and ham radios. However, the FCC established regulations last year to limit that interference, and the newest technology automatically adjusts power levels to reduce the potential for its occurrence. Access would be possible simply by plugging a special adapter into a typical household electrical socket. Whether BPL will actually emerge as the third alternative to DSL and cable hinges a lot on whether the utility companies themselves invest in it.
A number of utilities are looking at possible investments, including Duke Energy
As more large corporations invest in broadband over power lines, more consumers searching for an alternative will be able to find one.