Long time readers are aware of my skepticism about broadband over powerline technologies. I am not sure sending broadband over electric cables is a workable idea, despite what our FCC commissioners say. So perhaps it is encouraging to see that energy industry insiders are preaching caution, and not just because of questions about the technology. “Utilities have never really operated in competitive markets before and the broadband market is a very competitive market,” Rick Nicholson, vice president of research at Energy Insights, an IDC company, tells Reuters.
He points to the past disasters, and is worried that we might see an encore. In a no-holds-barred price war between DSL and Cable broadband (and soon Wireless), BPL will be squeezed even before it gets off the group, that is if it gets off the ground. Vamsi Sistla, Director of Broadband Research at ABI Research tells Reuters that, “If you look at a utility they don’t really need the additional revenue from BPL … It’s not like Con Edison will go out of business if they don’t offer broadband …. If Verizon doesn’t offer DSL they will go out of business.” Still, it can play a niche role in some parts of the country where even 200 kbps is preferable to dial-up.