STRIKE 2 .
IBM Working With CenterPoint Energy On Broadband Service
Monday July 11, 12:16 AM EDT
AUSTIN, Texas -(Dow Jones)- International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)
(IBM) has teamed with CenterPoint Energy Inc. (CNP) (CNP) on an initiative
aimed at delivering high-speed Internet service through electric power
So-called "broadband over power lines" technology, or BPL, enables access to
the Internet simply by plugging a special modem into a standard electric
outlet. It has generated widespread buzz among utilities, and many have been
Raymond Blair, vice president of IBM's BPL initiative, said the deal with
Houston-based CenterPoint is IBM's first foray into the business in the U.S.
Under the deal, IBM is being paid to help CenterPoint with a pilot test of
the service that runs through August and involves about 220 homes in
Southwest Houston. IBM also helped CenterPoint design a "BPL technology
center" that opened last month.
"We think this is a very big opportunity" for IBM, Blair said. "The key
thing here is making sure this one is successful and it works out right."
Long term, Blair said he thinks most utilities in the U.S. will roll out
such systems because they stand to benefit significantly from the
technology. In addition to providing convenient Internet access for
consumers, Blair said BPL technology brings "intelligence" to the power grid
that can help utilities operate more efficiently.
IBM doesn't make the BPL hardware, but it hopes to become a major provider
of integration and management services for such systems.
"We think this could be a new growth area" for IBM, Blair said.
IBM is far from alone among major tech firms in showing interest in BPL
technology. Among them, Google Inc. (GOOG) (GOOG) recently invested in
Current Communications Group, a start-up that offers high-speed Internet
connections over the power system.
-By Bob Sechler, Dow Jones Newswires; 512-236-9637
RFI mailing list