IBM Backs Broadband over Power Lines

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Rural Internet users left out of the loop by mainsteam Internet solutions like cable and DSL may soon have a new option thanks to a deal IBM has hammered out to begin providing broadband over power lines. On Wednesday, the company announced it had signed a $9.6 million deal with IBEC, a broadband-over-power-line (BPL) provider, to begin equipping several rural test markets with BPL technology.

Under the agreement, IBM will supply project management, oversight and training, and IBEC will supply the actual equipment, and serve as the ISP for customers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the companies will work with 13 electricity cooperatives to deliver BPL connectivity for customers across seven states: Alabama, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The deployment should take about two years, and eventually reach about 340,000 homes – 86 percent of which have no access to either cable or DSL. The Associated Press reports that IBEC will charge about $30 per month for its service, though speeds will likely be slower than both cable and DSL.