Revenge of the Electric Company

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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Revenge of the Electric Company

The phone companies have high-speed DSL, the cable companies have high-speed broadband cable, and both offer Triple Play solutions, but what about the electric company? Just about every home in any industrialized nation has three copper wires services coming into their home - electric, phone, and cable, yet for the most part only the phone and cable wires are being utilized, leaving the electric companies in the "dark" (there's a joke in there somewhere).

Sure, you can build a home Local Area Network (LAN) that transmits packets using your home electrical wiring (HomePlug Powerline Alliance) but the packets can only travel a short distance. What good is a LAN without access to the Wide Area Network (WAN) - specifically the Internet.

Well, electric companies aren't going to stand idly by while the phone and cable companies make money hand over fist with these new Triple Play packages. There are now technology solutions that can transmit IP packets over electrical wiring over long-distances. In fact, a Danish power company, Tele Nordvest, will begin offering customers VoIP completely naked - as in no subscriber line or Internet connection necessary. They are setting themselves up as VoIP providers, with a backbone in their powerplant. According to their press release, this could have some interesting angles: theoretically, every power outlet in your house suddenly becomes a telephone plug. Here's a link to the article - unfortunately, it's in Danish, so if you can't read Danish, you'll just have to take my word for it. Yep, reading Danish is yet another talent of mine. Actually, an avid reader of mine, Johan gave me the tip and the translation. Thanks Johan!

The electric companies can one-up both the cable companies and the phone companies - only they have the proper gauge wiring and infrastructure to offer electricity. Now add in voice (over IP), data, and even video, and you got yourself a TRUE Quadruple Play! This could be a case of where the tortoise (electric companies) beats the hare (cable + phone companies). They're still late out of the gate, but certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Oh, I neglected to mention two other pieces of copper (or other metal) coming into many homes - your plumbing and your gas pipe. I know what you're thinking - "Surely, you cannot transmit IP packets over the plumbing or a metal gas pipe." Well, you would be wrong.

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