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Friday, 30 March, 2001, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Germany 'powers' up the net
Latest technology at Cebit fair
The powerline technology was demonstrated at the recent Cebit technology conference
Powerline technology - where high-speed internet access arrives through electricity cables rather than phone lines - is coming to Germany.

Germany is the world's testing ground for powerline technology, and plans to roll out the new service in some areas as early as May.

The Germany's Bundesrat upper house of parliament paved the way for electricity companies to offer the new technology on Friday.

The decision is welcomed by electricity distribution companies such as RWE, but may pose a threat to telecoms companies such as Deutsche Telekom.

Moving into the mass market

By delivering high-speed internet connections through wall sockets at home, utilities could break the phone companies' grip on internet access.

We have a lot of interest, especially install the internet in every classroom

RWE spokesman
It could also help offset shrinking profits in the power market following deregulation.

German utility MVV will start delivering high-speed internet access through its power cables in the town on Mannheim as early as May, and reports a lot of interested parties.

"We can go ahead and move into the mass market," said a spokesman for the firm.

It initially plans to connect 3,000 private customers, in what it says is the world's first commercial application of that size.

School enthusiasm

And the world's biggest utility, RWE, plans to enter the market from July, and also confirms an enthusiastic response from home-owners.

"We have seen a lot of interest from enthusiastic customers, especially schools, where we plan schemes to install the Internet in every classroom," said a spokesman from RWE.

Electricity pylon
The new carrier of internet information
Powerline could become a preferred technology since competing ISDN lines require a separate line for each computer, with the user needing to dial up the internet each time.

Broadband, an even faster phone-line technology, does not need to be dialled up each time, but requires a separate modem to function.

RWE aims to win 20,000 powerline Internet customers by the end of the year, and will charge customers according to the amount of data received.


The economics ministry has now set out three laws establishing the conditions for power companies to start offering internet services.

"Companies complying with the laws are given permission to install and operate the technology across the country," said economics minister Werner Mueller.

The laws ensure that powerline does not interfere with electrical appliances or radio frequencies needed for emergency and military services.

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