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AT&T's Newest Enemy: Your Electric Utility

Not happy with the limited choices you have for broadband Internet access? That may change. The FCC has just announced it plans to back broadband over powerline (BPL) technology, so you may eventually get Net access from your local utility. And AT&T and the other telcos certainly aren't happy about it.
BPL technology has been tested far more in Europe than in the U.S., but thanks to the FCC intention, that may change. In fact, grants for the technology are now available.

All that sounds good. After all, shouldn't competition bring down prices and give us more services?

Yes, but there are potential problems with the technology. BPL may leak radiation out of power lines that could conceivably interfere with ham radios. Whether or not that's the case is quite controversial, and expect to hear a lot more about it.

Some ham radio proponents have been up in arms over this, so expect them to lobby against BPL.

But expect the telcos and cable companies to slyly try to squash the technology. I wouldn't expect that they'd come out publicly against it. But don't be surprised if they fund various innocuous-sounding pressure groups to lobby against the technology, and spread the usual FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

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