11:14 AM

Broadband-Over-Powerline Service Rides Into Texas

The service, called Smart Grid, will be offered next year to some 2 million homes and businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area and some other communities.

Nascent broadband-over-powerline (BPL) technology is scheduled to get an ambitious deployment across a broad swath of Texas, according to an announcement Monday by Current Communications Group and TXU Electric Delivery. The firms said the service will be offered to two million homes and businesses in 2006.

Current is a pioneer in BPL, having teamed up with electric power firm Cinergy Corp. to test BPL in Ohio. Among the investors in Current is Google, which has moved in recent months to offer broadband services of its own.

"We are immensely pleased to be working with an industry leader such as TXU," said William H. Berkman, chairman and co-founder of Current, in a statement. "This agreement is a milestone for Current as well as for BPL and illustrates the economic advantages of driving multiple applications across a single large-scale network deployment."

The Berkman family has extensive experience in wireless technologies, having provided early funding for fixed wireless provider Teligent before it crashed into bankruptcy.

Current's deal with TXU calls for the utility firm to sign a 10-year $150 million contract for usage of Current technology to provide real-time monitoring over the power grid. In the announcement, the firms said the PBL service will increase network reliability and power quality, manage customer outages more effectively and improve meter reading.

"Current's BPL solution is critical to our mission to dramatically improve the way we deliver electricity," said Tom Baker, TXU Electric Delivery Chairman and CEO, in a statement. "BPL will enable us to respond more quickly and efficiently to outages of all magnitudes, manage our distribution network more proactively, and further safeguard our dispersed critical assets in today's heightened security environment."

The service, called Smart Grid, will be designed, built, and operated by Current. It will be offered to some 2 million homes and businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area and some other communities.

BPL service has been offered in fits and starts in North America for several months. In October the first citywide BPL service was introduced by Communications Technologies (COMtek) in Manassas, Va.

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