- Scott Trubey The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Telecom giant AT&T has picked Georgia to test a new technology to distribute super-fast internet signals via power lines.
AT&T said its Project AirGig could someday deliver “gigabit” speeds to rural and urban areas near above-ground power lines without building new broadcasting towers or burying new fiber optic cable.
AT&T, in partnership with Georgia Power, is testing the technology in an undisclosed rural Georgia location. Technicians can essentially clamp the technology onto existing power infrastructure in a matter of minutes, AT&T said in a news release.
“Project AirGig is part of our ongoing effort to accelerate internet connections to a gig or more through both wired and wireless solutions,” Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs, said in the release. “But it also stands alone as a radically innovative solution to bridge the global digital divide.”
The announcement comes as Georgia lawmakers grapple with the issue of providing improved internet access to rural areas of the state.
The idea of directing internet service over power lines has been tried in the past, but AT&T has said its system overcomes prior technical challenges.
Deployment costs for new broadband service could be greatly reduced compared to the cost of deploying expensive new towers and cable infrastructure.
The technology, if proven commercially viable, could help expand broadband internet access to under-served areas. AT&T said there’s no timeline yet for commercial deployment.
AT&T is also testing the technology outside the U.S. The company said the project, lead by AT&T Labs, draws upon more than 10 years of research.
“Expanding access to high speed internet is an important initiative that provides value for our all of our customers and helps us remain a competitive state in which to do business,” Georgia Power Chairman, President and CEO Paul Bowers said.