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Internet via electrical lines still looks hopeful for county

The July issue of The Tennessee Magazine references the fact that under Tennessee law, electric cooperatives cannot provide broadband Internet service to their customers. While there were hopes that local governments and electric companies could work towards providing this service, it failed to make it out of this session of the Tennessee legislature. However, this decision does not dash the hopes that Johnson County will be able to receive broadband Internet access via the electrical lines.
Through monies received under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Broadband Internet service may soon be possible to the people of rural America that currently do not have access to these services. While the announcement of monies awarded should be made by September 30, 2010, Mountain Electric Cooperative representatives are optimistic that a decision may be announced in the near future. Joe Thacker and Charles Dunn of Mountain Electric Cooperative are both hopeful the awards may be announced toward the end of July or early August.
The Federal Communications Commission gave the thumbs up for electric utility companies to provide their customers with high-speed Internet service via their electrical lines back in 2004. This type of Internet service is known as Broadband over Power Lines (BPL). Rick DiLella is the sales director for International Broadband Electric Communications (IBEC), the company that would bring BPL Internet service to Johnson County, as well as rural areas throughout the South, Midwest and East. IBEC would essentially lease the current electrical lines from Mountain Electric. IBEC would be the Internet service provider, not Mountain Electric. “Basically, it’s a partnership, “ said Thacker. There is no cost to Mountain Electric as the money necessary for this project would be received from the federal government.
This method of delivering internet service would make use of existing infrastructure as equipment would be attached to utility poles roughly every half mile. This would allow the Internet signal to reach those Mountain Electric customers who decided to sign up for BPL service. Customers would plug a BPL modem into an outlet that had been fitted with a device that would be responsible for sending information through the electrical lines. The customers would then receive their Internet signal to their computer or wireless router.
IBEC offers three Internet service packages for their customers. Each package offers a different kilobyte speed per second. The rates are then based on the Internet package that is chosen by the customer. At this time, the cost of the packages can span from $29.95 to $89.95 per month. There is no limit to the bandwidth a customer can upload or download, making BPL an attractive alternative to other Internet service providers. However, if a customer exceeds what is referred to as accessible use policy limits, their account could be monitored to determine whether their Internet usage should be deemed a personal or business account. More information will be provided as the recipients of the federal grant monies are announced.