There has been an increasing talk of high-speed Internet being delivered like a utility over the pwer lines, in effect making “making every electrical outlet an always-on Web connection.” WSJ has a report on companies like Amaren Corp, which serves about 1.5 million electric customers in Missouri and Illinois, are doing. Here’s how the technology works:
Data is carried either by fiber-optic or telephone lines to skip disruptive high-voltage lines, then is injected into the power grid downstream, onto medium-voltage wires. Because signals can only make it so far before breaking apart, special electronic devices on the line catch packets of data, then reamplify and repackage them before shooting them out again. Other technologies use more elaborate techniques that detour the signal around transformers. Either way, the signal makes its way to neighborhoods and customers who could access either it wirelessly, through strategically placed utility poles, or by having it zipped directly into their homes via the regular electric current. Adaptors at individual power outlets ferry the data into computers through their usual ports.