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Is There A Future For Broadband Over Power Lines?

Motorola's recent announcement of a wireless broadband-over-powerline solution gave new impetus to an old idea --- providing high-speed Internet access over residential power lines.

Seems like a great, simple idea. But is it a practical one? And if it is, will any consumers actually sign up for it? After all, cable and DSL penetration into homes is quite high, and there doesn't seem much of an upside for a new broadband technology that is still in its infancy.

But there are some very good reasons why the technology may actually take off. People in urban and suburban areas might not realize it, but not everyone in the U.S. is besieged by cable and DSL operators, trying to get them on the broadband bandwagon. In some rural areas, there's no broadband access at all. Broadband over power lines is a perfect technology for those who aren't currently can't get high-speed access.

And even in urban areas, it will be good to have one more broadband competitor, because that will help to drive down prices and improve service.

On the other hand, it'll most likely remain a niche market. By the time the technology is mature enough for widespread deployment, most people in urban and suburban areas will already have a broadband provider, and getting them to move to a new one will be a tough sell.

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