The second largest wireless carrier in the United States, AT&T, has begun conducting trials in the state of Georgia as well as in a location outside the U.S. to deliver super-fast internet connectivity over power lines. This will allow the telecommunications giant to provide high-speed internet to a greater number of customers.
Using the power lines the aim of the telecommunications giant is to deliver internet connectivity at speeds that are faster than 1 Gbps which is currently what consumers are getting from fiber internet services that use high-frequency airwaves which travel along electricity transmission lines.
Suitable for both rural and urban
Though the trial that is taking place is Georgia is in an area that would be considered rural, AT&T has said that the service is capable of being deployed in more densely populated areas such as cities and suburbs since it is meant to serve anyone located close to a power line.
According to Marachel Knight, the wireless network architecture and design senior vice president at AT&T, part of the reason why the telecommunications giant picked a trial location located outside the United States is because the market opportunities extend beyond its home country.
A timeline for the commercial deployment of the product has not been set by AT&T and the telecommunications firm will increase the number of trials as development of the technology takes place.
“Potentially, it can be a really big deal. You need the power company to play ball with you. That’s the downside,” Recon Analytics’ analyst, Roger Entner, said.
Lower deployment costs
One of the advantages of the product that AT&T is trialing is that there will be no need to install fiber optic cables below ground or put up new broadcasting towers as all that is needed are above-ground electricity transmission lines. This could greatly reduce the deployment costs associated with new broadband services.
In Georgia, AT&T is partnering with Georgia Power, and Andre Fuetsch, AT&T Labs’ president, had indicated that the technology could eventually assist in bridging the digital divide across the globe. This is not the first time that power transmission lines are being tried as a way to pass internet signals but AT&T has said its system has been able to overcome technical challenges which had presented themselves in the past.
The internet-over-power-lines trials that AT&T is conducting comes in the wake of the telecommunications giant reaching an agreement with the Communications Workers of America union. Under the agreement pay for the workers will be increased and job protection measures enhanced.