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Google invests in Broadband Over Power Lines

     
3:12 am on Jul 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Google, Goldman Sachs and Hearst are investing $100 million in the start-up, Current Communications Group. CCG presently offers "high-speed Interent over electricity lines" in the Cincinnati, Ohio area

Reuters coverage [today.reuters.com]

3:30 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I wonder if this has anything to do with this:

[news.com.com...]

Very interesting move.

3:37 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Google invests $100 million in a startup?
A company in my former German hometown offers Internet over electricity lines (called Vype) since 2001 :-)
4:49 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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seems to be just an investment.
Many companies with cash do it. Bet on 10, and if just one or two hit it big, you still make a fortune. Just ask Google's original investors :-)
5:11 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Here in Holland, tests were run to see if this would be a good alternative for broadband through cable or telephone line. Results were negative and showed it was expensive and would never be able to compete with traditional lines for broadband.
6:00 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Energis in the UK were the Pioneer. They still exist but let's say, they were not a fine investment.
7:54 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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There is a major problem with interference; Radio Amateurs in particular have heavily complained at places where experiments have been done.

But I just don't see why Google would want to invest in this; it's not compatible with their other activities.

8:34 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It is really, it means every house in the world which is connected directly to a power grid in some form or another can use their services..
8:40 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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If I were to guess, perhaps it has to do with eventually streaming lots of video content. Google may well want to get into the broadband market but without having to invest billions in existing companies. This could be seen as a comparitively low cost entry to this market that could reap huge benefits.

I wouldn't be surprised if Google also tackles online file sharing head on at some point. Perhaps people could choose different payment plans for broadband in the future. Tracks/videos which would have ids associated with them and could be downloaded legally by folk. At the end of the month the cost charged to your broadband account could be divided up and given to the artists / film companies. Google (or whoever) could take a cut or using advertising.

10:12 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Not sure what Negroponte [medinfo.ufl.edu] would have to say about this.

While everyone is looking at a WiMax.. Google invests in a low signal to noise ratio broadband over powerline company.

11:14 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I'm in the energy industry and was actually part of a team that evaluated PLC technology.

Seems like it has niche application - especially from a system reliability standpoint. I'm concerned over the ability to compete with things like fiber. Cable and the Bells (Verizon) are making a play for bandwidth. From what I've seen, PCL might never get there. Throw in WiMax and the scenario is even dimmer.

Current has a large contract (partner) with Cinergy. As I remember it, they were way behind their planned deployment and still hadn't invented an underground (burried electrical cables) solution.

11:19 am on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Since I'm still on $10 56K dial-up service, I have two questions:
1) Will this actually work?
2) Will it be affordable? - Larry
12:32 pm on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Yes and yes.

I have this in Cinci. I pay $36 a month for 3mbs which I split the cost of with my neighbor.

You just call, give credit card, they mail you a wall adaptor, you plug it in, fire up a browser, activate the computer for use with the adaptor one time and go.

Easy as can be and a pretty terrific price.

1:39 pm on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hmmmm. Interesting. I live in Cincy and haven't heard about this being offered.

As Mark Twain said (not verbatim)...when the world ends, I want to be in Cincinnati since it is 10 years behind the times.

1:48 pm on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Oops. Just googled it and the actual quote is:

"When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because itís always 20 years behind the times." - Mark Twain

2:24 pm on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Grobe is right but it's not just Amateur Radio operators that get interference from BPL, emergency services, police, military and commercial airflight all get radio interference from BPL. Even if it was just Amateur Radio its still bad because not only is it a hobby enjoyed by millions but its also a vital part of our emergency communications as they provide backup communications in emergency situations. You can bet they sprung into action yesterday to help when the cellphones and telephone systems went down in London. They were there during the tsunamis [voanews.com], they were there during the hurricanes [eham.net]. But with BPL will Amateur Radio still be able to help?

I'm hoping that Google is investing because they believe that BPL can be done WITHOUT interference somehow. Either that or this is just the first sign that they are slipping from their "do no evil" mantra.

GoogleGuy where are you sir? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

2:46 pm on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Either that or this is just the first sign that they are slipping from their "do no evil" mantra.

What a cliche that has become....
3:41 pm on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Since I'm still on $10 56K dial-up service, I have two questions:

Larry, Where do you live that you are still on dialup?

3:45 pm on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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One of Googles bigest expenses is bandwidth.
4:12 pm on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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BPL is known elsewhere as PLT.

The mains grid is optimised for carrying high voltages (at low frequency) with low loss. For high frequency signals the wires act as an aerial- radiating the signal, rather than confining it.

Fibre-optic may well work out a far cheaper option in the long run.

7:20 pm on July 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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50% of the US is still on dialup. Webmasters don't seem to know this.
12:03 am on July 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Does anyone else think that Google is spreading itself too thin? R&D has always been a big part in Google business, but there comes a point when you have to focus on core competencies. As a google investor I am not happy with them throwing money around like a VC.
2:12 am on July 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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As a ham radio operator, I know there are a lot of interference issues yet to be resolved. BPL has been shot down at sites all over the US (one right here in the Raleigh, NC area) due to interference issues that couldn't be resolved/notched. I think it's a technology that isn't quite ready to be released... With a bit more work, it could probably be worksable in most locations... Much reading available on this topic at www.arrl.org

Dave

3:02 am on July 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>> As a google investor I am not happy with them throwing money around like a VC.

you are wrong. They have plenty of cash, and whatever they invested (less than $50 mil I bet) is NOTHING. You should be upset if Google did nothing and just counted on ad revenue. AOL made a billion or so off Google's IPO, if I remember correctly.

4:54 am on July 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I know GOog is a corporation, but they seem so friendly, so willing to help out the common man. Look at the indexing of libraries, that will bring a lot of books to many far away places where local libraries are horrid... so what do I think google is doing with this powerline thing, I think they can fix it. Remember, google is run on cheap skate linux machines, and that the real ingenuity of google is that it created software to work with hardware that isn't perfect. So, I for one think, Google will create sophisticated software that makes broadband communication on power lines efficient. Then Google will have made a new use of an existing network. It's really smart. I like it.
5:10 am on July 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Hi Bricks: I'm in Redwood City, CA. There used to be this big building by the
freeway with a big bright Excite! sign. The sign came down a few years ago.

Its not the location, its the dirt cheap reliable $10 dial-up service.
If I were doing this as a biz I would go DSL in a flash.

"When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because
itís always 20 years behind the times." - Mark Twain

Twain should see Spokane, WA. I hear women still wear bee-hive haidos there. -Larry

6:07 am on July 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"so willing to help out the common man"

hahahaha. I hate to break the news but they're not that altruistic, and rightfully so. They will make a killing with the book scanning. They are a publicly traded company, and owe it to the shareholders to try and make as much $$$ as possible...without compromisig their long term goals of course.

7:02 am on July 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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>> Google will create sophisticated software that makes broadband communication on power lines efficient. Then Google will have made a new use of an existing network. It's really smart. <<

Quoting a well worn phrase used by one of my university tutors: "Ya canna change the laws o' physics".

3:59 pm on July 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Larry, Where do you live that you are still on dialup?

For Larry it's choice, but for me it's not and I can't even get 56K (our phone system is on a pair gain which tops out at 26K). I live pretty far out in the country (nearest traffic light is 37 miles away) and in a tight valley with a lot of big timber. The folks who've tried satellite have had mixed experience trying to shoot the southern sky through the trees. Usually goes out in winter storms and is finicky in general.

We had 256KB for $162/mo, but then that company went out of business recently.

I've been watching this broadband over power lines for a long time (my cousin was in one of the first startups to get working on it) and am also watching Wi-Max with interest. I just wish that one of them would get out here ASAP. I have 15 people in my neighborhood I could sign up tomorrow if we could get DSL at the price it costs in the city, but it's probably never going to happen here.

So until they get those dirigibles [extremetech.com] up there, I'm still waiting... literally!

The problem is we will always be last because there's just not enough money to made off us - the neighborhood has existed since the late 1960s, but we didn't get phone service until 1992. Still no cell, broadband or cable here.

10:54 pm on July 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Quoting a well worn phrase used by one of my university tutors: "Ya canna change the laws o' physics".

Off topic I know but... There have been some compelling recent studies that suggest that the laws of physics can and have changed.

Change remains the only thing we can count on :-)

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