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IBM, IBEC ID First Broadband Power Players

International Broadband Electric Communications (IBEC) and IBM, which announced last fall they were teaming on broadband over power lines, have identifeid seven rural electric co-ops and four states where they will start delivering broadband over power lines to 200,000 customers. The states are Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and Virginia.

The effort is funded by a low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Program.

The USDA will have more money to put into such initiatives with the signing Tuesday of the economic stimulus bill. That bill contains $2.5 billion for grants and loans to the USDA for the roll out of broadband to unserved and underserved areas.

IBEC and IBM are pitching the service as more feasible in low-density areas than cable and with better data rates and lower cost than satellite.

The pair are building the networks in conjunction with five utility co-ops, Cullman Electric Cooperative (Alabama); District of Western Indiana REMC and Parke Country REMC and South Central REMC (Indiana); Midwest Energy Cooperative (Michigan); and BARC Electric Cooperative and Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (Virginia).