AT&T

AT&T announced today that it has launched a first-of-its-kind internet distribution service using power lines. The trial is running now in a small area in the state of Georgia.

Going by the moniker AirGig, this new technology will use millimeter wave signal, abbreviated as “mmWave.” Since mmWave has a much wider band of transmission than what is possible with traditional phone and fiber lines, AirGig could potentially deliver internet speeds at a faster rate than the current American industry maximum of 1 gigabit per second (Tokyo gets twice that).

Because power lines are used to distribute the signal, there would be no need to create new infrastructure to deliver faster internet speeds to existing customers. And customers who are currently without high-speed internet due to being in a remote or sparsely-populated area could get connected easily and quickly.

According to AT&T, connecting a building using AirGig technology could be performed by a trained worker in just a few minutes.

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Georgia’s Governor welcomed AT&T’s testing of the technology in his state, and emphasized the potential of all Georgia citizens benefitting if a commercial rollout is confirmed. Georgia is actually the second trial area for the technology, the first being an undisclosed international location. However, there is currently no timeline for a commercial rollout, and AT&T did not announce any other future trial locations.

The major roadblock to AirGig becoming a success would be the dependency on building relationships with each power company running across the U.S. Striking deals with over 1,000 energy companies to use their lines would be a monumental task, most likely fraught with negotiating deadlocks and political troubles.

AT&T is not exactly world-renown as being a consumer-friendly company. But with how important the internet has become for daily life, the concept of having an easy and cheap way to get every American connected with high-speed access is indeed worth pursuing.