Sachs: BPL Not a Proven Competitor

High-speed Internet access offered by electric utilities has yet to demonstrate that it can attract consumers and represent robust competition to cable and phone companies, National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Robert Sachs said Tuesday.

“We take it seriously. But I think that as a market proposition, broadband over power line [BPL] is still in a very nascent stage,” Sachs said, addressing a forum hosted by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Arlington, Va.

The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted rules to advance BPL, which promises to convert every electrical outlet into a high-speed-data port and become a new, facilities-based choice for consumers.

Cinergy Corp. and Current Communications Group LLC are often mentioned as BPL’s most vocal advocates in the technology’s launch phase.

“I think it remains to be seen in the marketplace how many power companies pursue the opportunity that has been presented to them,” Sachs said.

Regarding wireless-broadband competitors, Sachs indicated that Wi-Fi and WiMax would not cause consumers to abandon cable-modem service, especially if cable facilitates home networking that allows a laptop user to roam among rooms without being tethered to a wire.

“We feel confident that if we offer a robust service that people use in their homes, we will use wireless so that … all of your devices are connected,” he added. “We think that wireless is really more of a complement to what we are doing than a replacement for it.”