Friday, September 07, 2007

A New Way to Connect to the Internet

There may be some good news on the horizon for those who want less costly high speed broadband Internet connections at home. Joining the two dominant suppliers in our area, Cincinnati Bell and Time Warner Cable, is Duke Energy. That’s right, the same folks that bring you electric and gas service are now marketing high speed access to the Internet with a new product dubbed Current™. This new service uses a technology first developed in Europe.

Essentially the Internet connection piggybacks on the electric wires strung on the poles on your street and into your house. There is no need for any new wiring in your house. Each electric outlet in your house becomes a high speed Internet connection. A special modem the size of a cell phone plugs into an electric outlet and a cable from the modem to your computer completes the connection. The Current™ Internet access is capable of speeds comparable to popular Internet plans from cable and phone companies. There is a tremendous amount of technology that allows this to happen, but for the consumer, connecting is as simple as plugging in.

Duke Energy, and before them Cinergy, working with The CURRENT Group, LLC, a privately held company based in Germantown, Maryland, began testing this technology in the Cincinnati area a few years ago with a limited roll out in selected neighborhoods. According to company reports, the roll out is limited to an area of about 50,000 homes. As of this writing it is still not available in the Harrison area. I have not been able to get information when we might see the service offered in our area but will keep checking and mention it in future columns.

There are a number of other uses of this technology besides providing Internet access to consumers at home. Duke Energy and other utilities can use the system to electronically read your electric meter or selectively turn on or off electrical devices in your home in the event of high energy demands.

One byproduct of Duke expanding a presence in the local broadband market and that is good old competition. Right now Time Warner’s Road Runner® and Cincinnati Bell’s ZoomTown® are the only games in town. While they periodically offer special rates and packages with TV, Internet and phone service, the average cost of high speed internet service is still on the high side for either service. A third player in the region should add some pressure for lower rates and better service. We will just have to wait.

A clarification – A few weeks ago in my column about the iPhone® I said that Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue from the New York Times each got an iPhone®. David emailed me to clarify that he only has use of the devices he reviews for a short period and then they go back. If Steve Jobs sends me an iPhone®, I guess I will have to do the same thing.

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Anonymous CresceNet said...

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2:51 PM  
Blogger Jack Dominic said...

I attempted to translate the previous comment. I have no knowledge of Crescent.


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3:39 PM  

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