AT&T PiggyBacks Power Lines to Expand Wireless Availability

AT&T believes it may have found a way to make high-speed Internet available to everyone. Just as we were once challenged to make electricity available to every home, this generation is now challenged to do the same with high-speed Internet.

There are still many places in the world – from rural America to undeveloped third world countries – that are unable to access high-speed Internet. The high costs of infrastructure are blamed as the main reason many of the world’s population do not have broadband access.

In response to the overwhelming need to make broadband accessible to every region, AT&T has publically announced a new program called AirGig, which allows the company to transmit wireless signals from power lines. The signals are able to travel over long distances without the limitations of hardline cables, but instead will travel through the air. Small plastic antennas will be attached to powerlines which will draw the electricity into them and then release the wireless signals, thus allowing the current electrical infrastructure to be used as an Internet infrastructure as well.

AT&T’s chief strategy officer, John Donovan, said that by using the current infrastructure to piggyback on, broadband cost will be much lower than it would if it had to physically lay cables and install antennas and towers to transmit signals.

AigGig said that though other similar ideas have proven unreliable in the past, its system does not use the electrical cables themselves to transmit data, therefore it is more reliable and less expensive. Each link will have the ability to carry several gigabits of data and will use Wi-Fi and cellular antennas for connectivity, according to AT&T.

AT&T is just one of the companies currently looking for ways to reduce the price of Internet infrastructure. Google Fiber and Facebook are both looking at their own options for expanding the wireless blueprint.