EarthLink Inc. believes in the power of broadband, and now it is linking the two directly.
The Internet service provider has teamed with Progress Energy to test a broadband Internet service delivered via power lines in several Wake County, North Carolina neighborhoods.
The test will involve a maximum 500 homes, using technology developed by Massachusetts-based Amperion Inc. Customers who sign up will receive free Wi-Fi wireless access devices, allowing them broadband connections averaging 1.5 Megabits per second downstream/550 kilobits per second upstream anywhere in the home. The access units will link wirelessly to devices attached to electric poles and transformers just outside the home. Those pole-mounted devices, in turn, serve as neighborhood relay points, funneling traffic to and from the Internet using a combination of power and fiber optic lines.
Customers will pay $19.95 for the first month and then $39.95 monthly thereafter during the trial period, which at this point, is open ended.
“Providing high-speed Internet service via our power lines holds great potential,” said Matt Oja, director of Progress Energy’s emerging technologies, in a release. “It could offer a very competitive option for broadband users in our service territories, especially in rural areas not currently or easily served by other high-speed Internet providers.”
Progress is among a handful of power utilities investigating powerline broadband Internet systems. It began testing the systems in June 2003, connecting 25 computers in residential and commercial settings in the North Raleigh area.
The utility also is hoping the broadband powerline system will improve operations and internal communications for its two utilities serving more than 2.8 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. That includes remote monitoring of meters attached to homes in the broadband service test area.