IBM is going to help build broadband network in power lines to provide rural areas with high-speed Internet connections:
IBM Corp. is throwing its considerable weight behind an idea that seemed to have faded: broadband Internet access delivered over ordinary power lines.
The technology has been around for decades, but most efforts to implement the idea on a broad scale have failed to live up to expectations.
Now, with somewhat scaled-back goals, improved technology, and a dose of low-interest federal loans, IBM is partnering with a small newcomer called International Broadband Electric Communications Inc. to try to make the idea work in rural communities that don't have other broadband options.
Their strategy is to sign up electric cooperatives that provide power to sparsely populated areas across the eastern United States. Rather than compete toe-to-toe with large, entrenched cable or DSL providers, International Broadband is looking for customers that have been largely left out of the shift to high-speed Internet.
Signing on IBM, perhaps the highest-profile company to buy into the idea, could juice a technology that has failed to make much of an imprint.
"The technology is important but what's really important is this is a seminal moment in the delivery of broadband services to rural customers," said Bill Moroney, the head of the Utilities Telecom Council, an industry trade group. "Here's a beginning and really a great leap forward."