Current is already offering broadband over power line service to consumers in Cincinnati, and will soon offer a. Previous investors in the company include .
For years, people have hoped broadband over power line technology, or BPL, would allow power companies to become the, competing against cable operators and telephone companies. But 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.
It's little surprise that companies such as Google and EarthLink are interested in BPL. EarthLink, which doesn't own any of its own DSL or cable infrastructure, is determined to findwithout depending on the cable and telephone companies to provide access.
As a result, the company has been buildingaround the country. It has also and experiments with several power companies including Duke Power in Charlotte, N.C., Progress Energy in Raleigh, N.C., and Consolidated Edison in New York.
In addition to investing in Current, EarthLink will also serve as a retail provider of its broadband service.
"Current BPL gives us another viable alternative to the broadband services we now provide," Garry Betty, EarthLink's chief executive, said in a statement.
While Google doesn't compete directly against phone or cable companies today, it might in the future as it rolls out video and voice services. Finding alternative access to consumers could also become important for Google as phone companies. Phone companies say they may want to charge extra fees for delivering certain content, such as video, over their broadband networks.
Google has alreadyto connect its data centers, essentially eliminating the need in some parts of the country to buy those links from telephone companies. Like EarthLink, Google is also getting into the . In fact, the two companies are .