Electric Net?

Here’s a ray of hope for all of us geeks in the boondocks struggling to keep a 56kbs (which is usually more like 44kbs) dialup connection active over a barbed wire line, waiting for downloads from unnecessarily bloated sites designed with no thought to bandwith limitations. Wired carried aReuters report on a world conference of electric companies and equipment makers interested in channeling Internet service through power lines to homes. I’ve seen discussion of this before, and I was always skeptical. I ain’t no electrical engineer, but I just don’t see how they can push all those bits through transformers, meters, etc. and get them into my computer. But according to the article, it works; the technology isn’t the challenge. The problems seem to be cost and marketing. The equipment is expensive (it doesn’t say how expensive), but somebody in Spain said they could make money with one home in 10 subscribing; surely they can find that many takers. The article mentions marketing problems, saying “power companies never known for marketing prowess must compete against phone companies, Internet firms and cable companies”. Now I understand that most power companies have never had to compete for business, but this is like selling beer in a desert! There are a lot of us out here that the phone companies, Internet firms, and cable companies aren’t even trying to sell service to. They don’t have to be better or cheaper than anybody else, they just have to be available. Well, OK, there is a top-end to what I’m willing to pay for broadband access, but the first company that makes me an offer in a reasonable range doesn’t have to worry about competition undercutting them by a dollar or two. Unfortunately, this service seems to be catching on faster in Europe than North America.

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