pushes for Net over power lines
By Beth Potter, Staff Writer
Friday, March 17, 2006
Consumers could see cheaper Internet access prices if a
government group decides to push "broadband over power line"
technology in the metro area.
With the technology, high-speed Internet service could come
from any power outlet in a house, rather than from a
telephone line or TV cable.
The Greater Metro Telecom Consortium wants to know what it
would take to bring the Internet technology to the 32
Denver-area cities it represents, said Ken Fellman, the
government group's lawyer.
"A duopoly (Qwest and Comcast) doesn't necessarily benefit
consumers, because prices are the same," Fellman said. "But
if there's a third or fourth 'pipe' into the home, it would,
from a pure economic standpoint, have more impact."
Xcel Energy would first have to upgrade its system to make
broadband available, Steve Turner, chief operating officer
at Alabama-based International Broadband Electric
Communications Inc., an Internet company that works with the
technology, told the group Thursday.
Once that was complete, customers who chose the new
technology would get a modem-like box to plug into the wall
and into their computers, he said.
Xcel Energy doesn't "anticipate doing anything with the
broadband-over-power-line arena," said Tom Henley, an Xcel
spokesman. He declined to speculate on what Xcel would do
if asked by government officials to invest in the new
Xcel looked into the broadband power line technology 10
years ago and decided it was too expensive and not stable
enough, Henley said.
Consumers currently choose Internet service from telephone
company Qwest, cable company Comcast Corp. or other Internet
Both Qwest and Comcast have said they welcome competition.
Comcast has spent more than $400 million locally on
infrastructure in recent years so it can offer new products
and services, said Cindy Parsons, Comcast spokeswoman.
In Texas, TXU Electric Delivery power company plans to offer
the electric-line Internet service to about 2 million
customers in Dallas later this year. Power companies in
Georgia and Virginia also offer it for about $25 per month
in test markets.
TXU expects to spend about $150 million on its pilot
project, according to industry reports.
"If power companies decide to become phone companies, it
will get interesting," Turner said. "They also want to be
the 'bundle' service provider so you don't drift off and buy
something from somebody else."
Both Qwest and Comcast sell "bundles," most often telephone,
Internet and TV, discounted and rolled into one monthly
Staff writer Beth Potter
can be reached at 303-820-1503 or