IBM to bring broadband over power line to rural America

Posted on November 13, 2008  /  1 Comments

IBM has been hired to help rural Americans get broadband access using power lines.

On Wednesday, Big Blue announced it has signed a $9.6 million contract with International Broadband Electric Communications to bring the technology to rural America where it hopes to deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to millions of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get it. IBM and IBEC, which will build and manage the networks, are working with over a dozen electricity cooperatives in seven states, The Wall Street Journal reported.

For years, people have hoped broadband-over-power line technology, or BPL, would allow power companies to become the third alternative in the broadband market, competing against cable operators and telephone companies. But technical limitations and interference issues with local emergency radios and short-wave ham radios have stood in the way of mass adoption.

In recent years, new modulation techniques supported by other technological advances have helped BPL evolve. Most services today are capable of delivering between 512Kbps and 3Mbps of throughput, which is comparable to most DSL offerings.

In rural areas in particular, BPL technology could finally bring high-speed Internet access to people who otherwise couldn’t get it. Traditional phone and cable companies often find it too expensive to deploy new infrastructure to provide service to the far reaches of rural America.

Read the full story in CNET here.

1 Comment

  1. IBM did this in India in late 2006 (

    The problem with BPL is the speed/quality drastically change with the quality of the power transmission and the physical characteristics of the power cable.

    I believe there should be an initiation in Sri Lanka for this technology since most of the rural power backbones are newly established/re-furbished.