Broadband Over Power Lines -- We Really Mean It This Time
Regular Digital Beat readers know Andrew Jay Schwartzman writes a monthly column on telecommunications and media policy issues. You might consider also reading The Daily Item, in which Schwartzman offers you just one thing you might have missed. Below is The Daily Item for February 2, 2017, reprinted with Schwartzman's approval.
When telecom engineers are shooting the breeze, they often use the phrase "Project Angel" as a punchline. For almost 20 years, AT&T (and its predecessor company, also called AT&T) periodically announced that it was going to use revolutionary and exotic technologies to deliver high-speed wireless service that could replace (at first) copper phone lines and, later, to deliver ultra-fast broadband service. Despite big press announcements (such as these in 1997, 2000 , and 2002), Project Angel never happened. At least until now.
This could be very important. AT&T is unveiling (for only the second time) yet another new wireless scheme, one which has been announced only once before. This time, it is calling the new initiative "Project AirGig," but the hype, if not the technology, is similar. Except this time, the market and the technology might actually let this happen.
The telecom folks are abuzz again, because this is really audacious. The idea seems to be that AT&T would mount transmitters along electrical power lines and use the proximity to the electricity to help relay ultra high speed Internet along the rights of way. Speculation that AT&T really means it this time has been fueled by the fact that AT&T announced that it will buy FiberTower, a company that controls a large swathe of very high frequency spectrum.
Keep an eye on this, because if it works, it could reduce the need for fiber and perhaps greatly reduce the cost of Internet access.