The plan was announced on Monday by Current Communications Group, a service provider that specializes in broadband service over power lines (BPL), and TXU Electric Delivery, the largest electric company in Texas.
The companies estimate that roughly 2 million homes and businesses in northern Texas will be able to subscribe to the new service when the network is complete. Current Communications--which has built a similar network over Cincinnati's power lines with local utility company Cinergy--will design, build and operate the new broadband network. Deployments will begin in 2006, the companies said.
The purpose of the new network is twofold. First, it will allow TXU to monitor the health of its power network. If an outage occurs, the network, which is based on Internet Protocol, can send alerts immediately. Eventually, the utility could even use the network to remotely read meters and switch power on or off.
Secondly, BPL will enable TXU to develop a new revenue stream. The broadband network will be laid on top of the existing power infrastructure, and TXU will then lease this infrastructure to broadband providers such as Current.
"This agreement is a milestone for Current as well as for BPL and illustrates the economic advantages of driving multiple applications across a single large-scale network deployment," William Berkman, chairman and co-founder of Current, said in a statement.
Service speeds and pricing details haven't been released, but Current said the network will have enough capacity to offer customers a "triple play" package, which would include telephony, TV service and high-speed Internet access. Users will be able to access the high-speed broadband network by plugging a device into an electrical outlet in the wall.
I'm curious to see what type of pricing they come up with. It would be great to have the cable and telephone companies competing with the local power company for our business.