A timely follow-up to my last post:
ZDNet's Marguerite Reardon has just posted a story on BPL, or broadband over power lines, which provides an in-depth look at what some major players are doing to promote actual "utility computing" -- high-speed Internet access provided right through your power lines. (Thanks to my colleague David Grober for the forwarding the link to this article.)
Marguerite writes that BPL has been proposed as a viable third alternative to cable and telephone companies for high-speed access for several years now. However, "technical limitations and a bad habit of interfering with local emergency radios, however, have made BPL a tantalizing near-miss for the tech industry." Last week, however, Google -- along with media conglomerate Hearst and Goldman Sachs -- reportedly invested about $100 million in a Germantown, Md., company called Current Communications Group, which works with electric utilities to implement BPL.
The electric utility industry is so highly regulated that it has two conflicting missions: to promote consumption of its product while simultaneously encouraging conservation, or at least load balancing. It should be interesting to see it enter the broadband Internet access fray and offer a new form of competition.