The technology known asthat deliver power to carry broadband signals into the home. For years, people have hoped BPL would allow electric companies to become a viable third alternative to the cable and telephone companies providing high-speed access to the Internet.
But technical limitations and a bad habit of interfering with local emergency radios have made BPL a tantalizing near-miss for the tech industry.
Nevertheless, several utilities across the country are looking into deploying BPL, and several big technology companies, such as Google, IBM and EarthLink, are investing in the technology.
Last year, Google, which is testing broadband over power line networks in Ohio and . And IBM is partnering with Houston-based power utility CenterPoint Energy .
EarthLink haswith several power companies including Duke Power in Charlotte, N.C., Progress Energy in Raleigh, N.C, and Consolidated Edison in New York.
BPL also can be used to monitor the health of the power grid. If an outage occurs, the network, which is based on Internet Protocol, can immediately send alerts. Eventually, a utility could even use the network to remotely read meters and switch power on or off.