Two Enter Internet Battle

Consumers understand that when there is more competition in a market, there are lower prices. This is especially true in the computer industry where it is reported that 68% of households have a computer. According to the Computer Industry Almanac, the worldwide number of Internet users will exceed 1 billion this year with the United States leading with over 185 million users. The number of users will continue to increase as well as competitors, forcing companies to offer faster connections at a cheaper price. Two technologies that will lend a hand in allowing new players into the Broadband market are BPL and WIMAX.

Broadband Over Power Lines, BPL

BPL is a technology that allows Internet data to be transmitted over utility power lines and is also referred to as Power-line Communications or PLC. The technology works by modulating high-frequency radio waves with the digital signals from the Internet. These radio waves are fed into the utility grid at specific points, then travel along the wires and pass through the utility transformers into homes and businesses. One main concern by officials in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), is that BPL will interfere with radio systems including fire, police, short-wave and land mobile. There are other groups who are taking the initiative in realizing this potential including the IEEE which has begun to develop IEEE P1675, "Standard for Broadband over Power Line Hardware."

This technology has gained national attention with reports by the Wall Street Journal that industry powerhouses Google and Goldman Sachs have invested nearly $100 million into Current Communications Group, a company that provides high-speed Internet access over electrical power lines. According to Reuters, CCG will use the financing to deploy voice, video and data services in domestic and global markets. IBM is also currently researching the use of electrical power lines to provide internet access by opening a BPL center in Houston with CenterPoint Energy although IBM has declined to put a dollar value on the amount invested.

Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, WIMAX

WiMAX, also known as IEEE 802.16, is a standards-based wireless technology that provides broadband connections over long distances and is intended for wireless "metropolitan area networks". It can be used for wireless networking in much the same way WiFi is used today while also allowing for more efficient bandwidth use and interference avoidance. WiMAX has a broadband wireless access range of 30 miles compared to only 100 - 300 feet for a WiFi wireless local area network.

WiMAX can be used for a number of applications, including "last mile" broadband connections, hotspots, and high-speed connectivity for businesses. Alvarion, a global organization headquartered in Israel that supplies integrated Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) solutions, has announced it will supply satellite provider DirecTV Group Inc. with equipment that uses WIMAX technology in order to enhance customer upstream bandwidth requirements. By implementing "last mile" broadband connections, DirecTV would then be able to supply faster connections to rural areas where it would cost millions to lay down the cable lines necessary for high speed. Another application under consideration is gaming. Microsoft is looking to make WiMax a standard feature in its Xbox 360. This would allow gamers with similar equipment to interact with other players without any internet access. All the funcionality of WiFi with improved range and reduced network latency makes WiMAX a very attractive alternative.

James Junior is a freelance writer and web programmer for">