Va. City Goes Wide With Powerline Data

A public-private partnership in Manassas, Va., has completed what the American Public Power Association terms the first citywide commercial deployment of broadband over power lines.

Officials in the Washington, D.C., suburb said the product is now available to 12,500 homes in the 10-square-mile city. Provider COMTek reported having 700 customers installed, including residences and businesses, with another 500 on a waiting list, CEO Joseph Fergus said.

A grant from the American Public Power Association paid for a beta test in one neighborhood, and a citywide rollout followed, Mayor Douglas Waldron said during a press conference Oct. 5.

Fiber optics were installed throughout the community to work off an existing fiber backbone. COMTek provides Internet service and Web hosting, and the city handles billing and routes services. Consumers pay $29 per month for high-speed Internet service averaging 500 to 700 kilobits per second, Fergus said.

Multiple users can plug into power outlets at the same time, but access and speed within the home will vary depending on the number and types of users.

Earthlink digital subscriber line service locally costs $19.95. Comcast Corp. provides varying levels of cable-modem service, starting at 6 megabits per second. It normally costs $42.95 a month, but Comcast is offering a promotional price of $19.95 for the first three months.

COMTek is already looking at ways to increase speed, predicting a 4-Mbps offering in a matter of months.