FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, September 30, 2005

One Step Closer to "Electric Broadband"

The idea of serving broadband Internet access through existing electrical wires has been around for some time. Japan's Matshushita Electric has taken a big step toward making the theoretical a reality with a chip that allows users to connect to the Net simply by plugging their devices into an ordinary power outlet. The chip would essentially act as an interface between a device and the outlet.

Besides the obvious advantages of leveraging power outlets for online access, Matshushita's system delivers speeds up to 170 megabits per second -- faster than conventional Ethernet. The system could also bring us closer to the pervasive computing environment, in which electrical devices of all sorts could be networked.

UPDATE: Several alert readers have noted the irony that Japan has for now banned Internet access through electrical lines (or power line communication [PLC]), citing interference with radio frequencies in the 2-30 MHz range.

Sources: USA Today, Smart Mobs