IBM and IBEC Initiate Broadband Access to 200,000 Rural Americans
(Marketwire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ARMONK, NY and HUNTSVILLE, AL, February 18 / MARKET WIRE/ --
IBM (NYSE: IBM) and International Broadband Electric
Communications, Inc. (IBEC) -- an Internet Service Provider -- today
announced they have begun to establish Broadband over Power Line (BPL)
networks for nearly 200,000 rural customers served by 7 electrical
cooperatives in Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and Virginia.
Funded by low-interest Rural Broadband Access Loans from the United States
Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program, IBEC aims to bring
broadband Internet access to rural communities via existing power line
infrastructure. IBM, the first major systems integrator to enter this
market, is providing overall technical expertise, project management, and
training of the line crews who are installing the BPL technology.
How it works: Broadband over power line technology modifies radio signals
to transmit voice and Internet data over electric utility power lines. All
a consumer needs is a modem that plugs into existing electrical outlets in
their home or business. With no new wires to install, setup is simple and
easy. Learn more from Cullman Electric CEO Grady Smith: "Broadband Over Powerlines -
Rural America's Key to Tomorrow's Broadband Services."
"In the near-term, IBM and IBEC's effort promises to bring broadband access
to the scores of the nearly 45 percent of Americans that do not have it
today," said Raymond Blair, Director of Advanced Networks at IBM. "In the
long-term, the effort will lead to the expansion of small businesses and
creation of new industries, bringing new jobs to rural Americans and
driving net new economic growth."
"While DSL and Cable modem service providers are competing
head-to-head in many urban areas, neither is feasible in low density,
underserved areas (both rural and urban), where DSL requires significant
telephone network upgrades, and cable data is not economically viable,"
said Scott Lee, CEO of IBEC. "The only broadband choice for many consumers
in rural areas is satellite data service, which does not offer comparable
data rates and is more costly than wire line services."
IBM and IBEC, with the aid of government funding, are building broadband
over power line networks in cooperation with member-owned electric utility
co-ops across the nation. The first seven co-ops to participate include:
Cullman Electric Cooperative in Alabama; Utilities District of Western
Indiana REMC, Parke Country REMC and South Central REMC in Indiana; Midwest
Energy Cooperative in Michigan; and BARC Electric Cooperative and Central
Virginia Electric Cooperative in Virginia. These are just seven of nearly
900 electric cooperatives in the United States providing 45% of the total
electric grid and covering 75% of the land mass in the U.S.
Bob Hance, CEO of Midwest Energy Cooperative in Michigan led an effort to
survey the Midwest's customers to determine if there was interest in
broadband Internet services. Within a week, the cooperative had a waiting
list of 4,000 customers practically pleading for service. "We were amazed
by the responses to the survey -- thousands of letters from citizens of our
community expressing their need for broadband in order to improve
everything from childhood education to the future of their family-owned
small businesses," said Hance. "We shared nearly 600 of these letters with
local legislators after we realized none of the major service providers
were going to answer their calls for help. Thanks to the help of those
legislators, IBM and IBEC were able to access the resources needed to help
our community. In less than two weeks, we've already deployed 400 live
miles with broadband access, or nearly 4,000 homes."
Grady Smith, CEO of Cullman Electric Cooperative in Alabama believes BPL technology can do
for rural America today what the Rural Electric Administration (REA) did
for it in the 1930s. Cullman has 1,600 homes wired for BPL technology
thus far, and expects to pass nearly 7,000 homes by the end of February.
"Today, instead of electricity, it is broadband service that is on course
to change our lives. I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that
broadband service is the single most important technological issue of this
generation, and that it will have the greatest impact on society since
basic electricity and telephone service."
Bruce King, CEO of BARC Electric Cooperative in Virginia is looking forward
to bringing broadband access to his community of 11,000 households and
small businesses in the coming months. "I cannot go to church or rotary
club meetings on the weekend without someone in the community asking me
when we'll have high speed Internet access. Our members are orphans in the
Internet world," said King. "I'm proud to be able to tell our members that
it will only take us 1 percent of the money we invested in the electric
system to begin with to enable it for broadband. I am a financial guy, and
that is an overwhelming reason to do it."
IBEC, Inc. is a full-service provider of Broadband over Power Line Internet
access products, solutions and services, electric utility SmartGrid
communication and integration solutions, and powerline-based security
systems. Focused on meeting the broadband needs of rural and underserved
America, IBEC is the leading provider of Broadband over Power Line
solutions to rural electric utilities and their consumers. For more
information, contact IBEC at 285 Dunlop Boulevard SW, Suite K, Huntsville,
AL 35824-1103 USA, 256.492.1000, 256.456.1406 fax, or via email at
Marketing@ibec.net. On the Internet, visit IBEC at http://www.ibec.net and
http://www.bpl.coop. IBEC - EmPOWERing the World's Broadband?
For more information, please visit http://www.ibm.com/services
Copyright ? 2009 Marketwire
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