Aurora dumps broadband over powerline

Aurora Energy has decided to withdraw from a three-year-old broadband-over-powerline experiment as a result of cost pressures.

Aurora Energy has decided to withdraw from a three-year-old broadband-over-powerline experiment as a result of cost pressures.

Despite the early promise shown by the trial, the utility company announced today that it will pull out of its TasTel partnership -- a broadband over powerline (BPL) joint venture between Aurora and telco AAPT -- and is seeking to sell its 72 percent shareholding in the company.

"We felt that in a technical sense the trial was very successful," a spokesperson for Aurora told ZDNet Australia. "It really has been a commercial decision rather than a technical one."

Aurora's spokesperson added that the company is looking to focus on wholesale rather than retail services: "As a reseller, you make a narrow margin and it's highly competitive."

TasTel's BPL users will be moved to alternative services.

TasTel first started life in 2001 as a joint venture between AAPT, Aurora and Hydro Tasmania, with the latter selling its shares in 2005. The first BPL trials -- four properties -- were connected in 2004, with the experiment later extended across five areas around Hobart through 2005 and 2006 for commercial assessment.

Aurora will now concentrate its efforts on its fibre network, whose customers include CSIRO and the University of Tasmania, and an assortment of government agencies.

The company said the decision to drop BPL in favour of fibre was prompted by changes in telecoms policy and the market.

John Norton, executive general manager for public network solutions at NEC Australia, said recently that Australian carriers are looking into the technology but utility companies are having difficulty with BPL.

"The utility types are still struggling with the business model and with government policy," he said.

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