FCC Will Support Broadband Over Powerlines

BPL will provide consumers nationwide with high-speed Internet access through their existing electrical outlets. BPL also assists utilities with critical intelligence to enhance the security,reliability and efficiency of the U.S. electric power grid.

“This is one of the defining moments for the widespread adoption of broadband by Americans, and a great testament to the FCC’s leadership and to the cooperation and support of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Today’s FCC decision is as significant as the Commission’s decision a decade ago to foster competition in the mobile telephone and video programming businesses, through PCS and direct broadcast satellite licensing,” said William Berkman, Chairman of CURRENT Communications Group, a BPL service operator in the residential and small business markets. “The fact is that BPL does ‘double duty,’ enabling two critical infrastructure improvements – it gives our nation a viable new broadband alternative and it enables significant modernization of the nation’s electric distribution system.”

Today’s FCC decision confirms the application of existing technical rules to BPL deployments and implements additional rules to facilitate continued BPL roll-outs, marking the conclusion of a nearly two-year rulemaking process. Incorporating these rules, BPL will provide for significantly more efficient and reliable electric distribution networks nationwide in a variety of ways, including:

— Automated outage and restoration detection;

— Automated meter reading;

— Load management through remote monitoring and operation of switches, transformers and other electric utility network equipment;

— Remote capability to connect and disconnect electrical service;

— More efficient demand-side management programs.

CURRENT BPL provides homes and small businesses with high-quality broadband and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services through a joint venture in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana with Cinergy Corp., the utility holding and diversified energy company. The service will pass approximately 50,000 homes by year-end. Through a second joint venture with Cinergy, known as ACcess Broadband, CURRENT will deploy BPL to smaller municipal and cooperatively owned power companies covering 24 million customers across the United States.

“We, and Cinergy customers, have been thrilled with the results of our BPL service,” said William J. Grealis, Executive Vice President of Cinergy. “The CURRENT Broadband service bridges the ‘last mile’ from the electric distribution network into customers’ homes without the need to install additional wires and leverages the widely accepted and easy-to-use HomePlug modem standard for in-home networking. It’s enabled us to provide customers with affordable, user-friendly Internet service. At the same time, BPL will enable us to improve the performance of our core electric network without significant incremental capital investment.”

“The future is bright for BPL,” said Mr. Berkman of CURRENT. “BPL is a high-quality alternative that transforms every in-home power outlet into a broadband outlet and will help bridge the gap in services to America’s underserved communities. Furthermore, it enables electric utilities to enhance their systems’ reliability and broaden their service offerings efficiently through a single general communications network built on their existing infrastructure.”

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