On the wire

Google’s decision to invest in a company focusing on delivering broadband Internet access over power lines (often referred to as “BPL” ““ Broadband over Power Line, or “PLC” ““ Power Line Communications) was the first in what appears to be a one-two punch for BPL this week. It’s now being reported that IBM is also making an investment in BPL via a company called CenterPoint Energy in Houston, TX.

The advent of widespread BPL access creates an interesting possibility of a new way of providing VoIP telephone service. It also suggests the possibility of new players in the VoIP space (i.e., power companies). This is interesting for many reasons ““ states and local government have a revenue and regulatory stake in the power industry, and the field of VoIP providers is getting uncomfortably crowded given that there isn’t a clear regulatory picture as yet.

This is another good indicator that states and local governments need to constantly evaluate their revenue and regulatory environments in light of new advances in technology. Governments that don’t take these proactive steps risk being left out in the cold as new ways of delivering old services emerge.