Technology Could Send Internet, Other Data through Grid

If Dallas-based technology company Media Fusion realizes its goal, anyone on the electric power grid in the United States would be able to access low-cost, high-quality voice, video and Internet data with nearly unlimited bandwidth simply by using a low-cost adapter to plug into a home’s electrical outlets.

In late 1999, Media Fusion was awarded a patent for its Advanced Sub-Carrier Communications process, which, the company says, will “empower the vast electrical grid of any nation to deliver communications services to businesses, homes, schools and underserved rural areas.” In effect, the nation’s power grid would become one huge wide area network, or what Media Fusion terms a “powerline area network.”

The technology doesn’t use the actual electric wires themselves to transmit voice, video and other data, but instead uses the naturally occurring magnetic field that surrounds the wires. Utilizing proprietary hardware and software, Media Fusion’s Advanced Sub-Carrier Modulation process writes data within the electrical magnetic field around the power line. This enables the electric power grid to carry telephone, radio, video, Internet and satellite data to any destination on the grid.

According to the company, the technology uses power lines in a way that solves problems of line noise, electrical load imbalances and transformer interference that have dogged similar power-line communications attempts in the past.

On the consumer end of the wires, users will hook up an inexpensive adapter that will allow them to connect telephones, televisions and computers into the grid, through which they will be able to send and receive voice, video and other data. The clear winners in such a scenario are homes, schools and businesses in rural areas that otherwise would be unable to gain high-speed access to the ‘net.

While the technology has yet to be tested in the field, lab tests have been conducted. According to information on the company’s Web site, Media Fusion hopes to begin some sort of formal implementation of the technology by the third quarter of 2000.

Media Fusion plans to license its power line communication technology to energy providers, communications companies and other interested parties, who then will be able to provide advanced communications capabilities to their customers. The company also claims that its technology will offer utilities a way to monitor distribution and maintenance costs and user consumption more accurately than is currently possible.

Media Fusion’s patented technology would send voice, video and Internet data through the magnetic field that surrounds electrical wires.
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