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June 16, 2006

Other tech: Alternatives to Cable, DSL: broadband over powerlines, Wireless

Here is a survey of some new communication alternatives that are being pushed out now and over the next few years.

Broadband over powerlines is supported by Earthlink, Google, General Electric, Goldman Sachs and others. They have significant trials in Cincinnati, Maryland, Southern California, Hawaii and Texas

Most broadband over powerline services are capable of delivering between 512kbps and 3mbps of throughput, which is comparable to most DSL offerings. The costs are about $30/month.

Broadband over powerlines can be used by utilities to create smart power grids Smart grids include services and products that can enhance grid reliability, direct load control, provide automatic meter reading and enable grid management products.

Motorola is one of the earliest of the major telecom companies to place all of its WiMax bets on the 802.16e version of the technology, instead of the 802.16d standard for fixed WiMax. Motorola last year announced its "MotoWi4" umbrella brand for an array of broadband wireless technologies that includes mesh WiFi networks, WiMax, and the Canopy wireless technology for unlicensed spectrum. It also launched a partnership with Sprint Nextel Corp. in which Motorola will develop WiMax handsets and infrastructure for the broadband wireless network that Sprint plans to build over the next couple of years. Field trials are expected to start later this year. Widespread availability of Wimax is not expected until 2009. Wimax speeds are expecting to be about 15mbps for mobile system and 40mbps for fixed position systems.

Upgrades of cellphone EVDO technology could allow average download speeds starting in 2007 of between 1.3mbps and 2.4mbps and upload speeds between 210kbps and 432kbps This is three times better than what is available today.

Mediaflo is a proprietary system over UHF frequencies that can get 2.8 to 11mbps over one channel. There are other RF broadcasting to cellphone technologies.

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