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The next big thing in Web access: (from MSN)
Bringing broadband over local power lines may be the means by which high-speed Internet access becomes universally available. Here’s what’s involved and how to invest in it.
A few levels down in the capital, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell backs BPL -- not just as an alternate source of broadband but also as a way to keep competition alive in the phone sector. “The FCC is very enthusiastic,” says John Joyce, CEO of BPL equipment maker Ambient (ABTG, news, msgs).
The pure plays on BPL
One problem for investors is that many of the leading companies offering BPL equipment and services are still private -- from Current Technologies and Amperion (which offers the Wi-Fi link up), to Main.net in Israel and Design of Systems on Silicon, a Spanish company.
And one of the two companies in the space that are public -- equipment-vendor Ambient -- looks like a bankruptcy risk because it trades for about 25 cents per share.
But Ambient shares may be safer bet than they look. The company has friends in high places. The New York utility Consolidated Edison (ED, news, msgs) has a stake in Ambient, and Con Ed is running BPL trials with the company. Ambient also has a partnership with EarthLink, an Internet service provider. If BPL ever takes off, Ambient shares could get a nice lift.
Next, investors should consider a small company called Telkonet (TKO, news, msgs). Its equipment transmits broadband signals over the electrical wiring in hotels and apartment buildings. The market is big, given that there are 40,000 hotels and 30 million apartment buildings in the country. Telkonet also has potential customers in government and defense, where BPL might be used on Navy vessels and military bases.
Telkonet has alliances with satellite TV provider DirecTV Group (DTV, news, msgs), a big government contractor called Anteon International (ANT, news, msgs) and Leviton Companies, which makes electrical components. It may also team up with power companies and DSL and cable providers that need help distributing broadband signals in buildings.
Headquartered in Annapolis, Md., Telkonet recently signed a small deal with the Army Corps of Engineers, which will use Telkonet gear to help monitor dams. But bigger deals may soon follow. “We are inundated with business opportunities,” says Ron Pickett, Telkonet’s president and chief executive officer. “It is just every day, more and more proposals. The international side of things has been just explosive.”
... a new service is being rolled out that, over time, could dramatically change the economics of broadband Internet and transform what is largely a duopoly between cable and DSL into a competitive market.
The new option: connecting to the Internet through electrical sockets. In this scenario, the home user plugs a specialized modem into the wall socket and is immediately brought online at speeds up to 3 megabits per second, as fast as any broadband service on the market today. Known as "broadband over power lines," or BPL, the service is currently available to 16,000 homes in Cincinnati.
The pure plays on BPL
(Profiles--from Profile on yahoo)
1) Telkonet, Inc.
Telkonet, Inc. develops products for use in the powerline communications (PLC) industry. PLC products use existing electrical wiring in commercial buildings and residences to carry data communications signals including the Internet. Since the Company's formation, it has worked on the development and marketing of its PLC technology. Telkonet's PLC technology, the PlugPlus product suite, consists of three separate components: the Gateway, the Coupler and the iBridge. The Gateway, the hub of the PlugPlus product suite, is a modular self-contained unit that accepts data from an existing network on one port and distributes it via a second port. The signal generated by the Gateway can be directly coupled into low voltage wiring via the Coupler, which interfaces directly between the Gateway and the building's electrical panel. The iBridge serves as the user's network access device and connects to a user's personal computer through a standard Ethernet cable.
2) Ambient Corporation:
Ambient Corporation is a development-stage company engaged in the design, development and marketing of equipment and technologies (the PLC Technologies) designed to utilize existing electrical medium-voltage and low-voltage distribution systems as a medium for the delivery of broadband and other services. The Company's equipment and technologies are in the design, development and field trial testing stage. The PLC Technologies are designed to be used with a commercially deployed power line communications network to enable the delivery of information to a utility's customer at the higher speeds necessary to obtain broadband e-mail and Web browsing services, as well as telephony voice over Internet protocol through modem devices that are plugged into a standard electrical wall outlet without the need for cable, telephone or satellite services.
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