Broadband service over power lines in Texas
to shut down

AP Technology Writer

Goodbye, broadband over power lines. We hardly knew you.

Once touted as a possible third option for home broadband that could compete with phone and cable companies, the idea of providing Internet service over power lines now looks like it has died in infancy.

A Texas utility company said last week that it is taking control of the equipment that was to be used in the largest planned U.S. deployment of broadband over power lines, or BPL — and won't be using it to provide Internet service.

Oncor Electric Delivery Co., the Dallas-based distribution arm of former TXU Corp., said it will buy the network from BPL technology provider Current Group LLC of Germantown, Md.

The network was to offer Internet service to 2 million electricity customers through their wall outlets. Instead, Oncor will use the data capabilities of the network to monitor the electric grid.

"Our business is delivering electricity, not being an Internet provider or a television provider," said Oncor spokesman Chris Schein.

Other BPL trials have met with similar fates, though a few are still in operation. Compared to coaxial cables and copper phone lines, power lines are poor conduits for data. Some deployments also met fierce legal resistance from ham radio operators, who found that BPL created radio interference.

The Federal Communications Commission was a booster of BPL. FCC commissioner — now chairman — Kevin Martin said in 2004 that the technology had the potential to become an Internet solution "throughout the United States."

Yet the FCC found only 4,776 BPL subscribers in the country at the end of 2006, the latest figures it has published.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.