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By: MarkJ - 7 June, 2011 (5:59 AM)
uk powerline communications broadband internetA USA based telecoms firm called Gridline Communications has teamed up with Electricity Northwest, Cable and Wireless Worldwide and T-Systems (T-S) in the UK to launch a unique pilot of "Broadband over Power Line" (Power Communications) technology in the rural UK village of Shap (Cumbria).

The project will be conducted alongside the installation of Smart Meters (24 Million homes in the UK will be required to have one by 2020) and is similar to one that was announced for Liverpool last year (here), which uses existing national grid power lines to carry broadband internet access services into homes. It does this by separating out the electricity and internet service into separate wave lengths.

Gridline claims that its pilot should be completed by the end of June 2011 and success could reap significant rewards. The firm hopes that its project in Shap will lead to a full deployment model, which would reach approximately 2.5 Million Smart Meter equipped homes and businesses on the Electricity Northwest power grid.

Powerline technology is not without its pitfalls, of course, and the governments own national broadband strategy (Britain's Superfast Broadband Future) warned that the "cost of deployment and providing services is relatively high". Interference was another serious concern, with "broadcast radio, aeronautical radio and navigation services" potentially at risk of disruption.

The UK government wants 90% of "people in each local authority area" to have access to a superfast (25Mbps+) broadband ISP service by 2015. Sadly Gridline doesn't say how fast its service in Shap will run, although the Liverpool trial boasted a top speed of 200Mbps (probably shared capacity).

Gridline does at least claim on its website that the "pricing of our equipment will be in line with all other competitive broadband products such as DSL or cable modem", which would certainly deal with at least one of the governments concerns (cost).

Meanwhile Shap's 1,000+ strong population will just be pleased to gain a hopefully good bit of broadband connectivity. We hope to have some further details in the future.
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