Powerline technology may have found its niche in home networking and, more recently, in the emerging smart grid movement, but it has continually struggled to establish a presence as a broadband access service technology.
IBM, however, is convinced that Broadband over Powerline (BPL) can help bridge the broadband divide in rural areas.
IBM Global Financing, Big Blue's lending and leasing business division, has established a financing agreement with DS2, a supplier of integrated chip technology for powerline vendor International Broadband Electric Communications' Broadband over Powerline Regenerating Unit (BRU) smart boxes.
These so-called smart boxes are then attached to an electric utility pole to provide high-speed Internet signals to residential customers. IBEC is working with rural electric utility cooperatives to extend broadband access to “unserved” customers mainly in the US south, east and midwest.
This is not Big Blue's first major BPL investment. Even as many industry pundits were reading BPL its last rites, IBEC signed
a $9.6 million agreement with IBM to deploy BPL networks in Eastern US electric cooperatives.
The investment was heralded by the Utilities Telecom Commission (UTC) as a “major step forward in bringing broadband services to the residents of rural America.”
At that time, IBM and IBEC said they were working with the Midwest Energy Cooperative to deliver broadband over powerline to area residents and businesses throughout the seven counties the utility serves.
- see the IBM release here