US teleco AT&T wants to send internet via power lines

Billy Bambrough
Follow Billy
Mercury energy contractors check progress on the i
Could the power lines that web the globe be used to transmit wireless internet? (Source: Getty)

US teleco AT&T has unveiled ambitious plans for wireless internet using power lines.

Amid rising concerns that fiber broadband is going to be too costly and difficult to roll out nationwide, tech and telecoms firms are searching for alternatives to traditional internet connections.

AT&T reckon the technology will be easier to deploy than fiber, can run over license-free spectrum and can deliver ultra-fast wireless connectivity.

You can watch the company's promotional video below.

Read more: BT and Virgin to vouch for UK’s broadband flair

It isn't the first company to float such an idea. Google has opted to rethink its big plans for fiber broadband roll out across the US due to concerns over expense and regulation.

Reports last month suggested Google could consider setting up wireless transmitters throughout major cities and use them to deliver residential internet. Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas are reportedly on its list, with further plans to reach about a dozen US cities.

In the UK, broadband challenger TalkTalk has been working to develop a fiber network in the city of York and plans to expand the scheme to other cities in coming months. The cost and eventual reach of the network are still unclear however.

AT&T's project, codenamed AirGig, has been tested at outdoor facilities and AT&T claim the tests have been positive so far.

Field trials at scheduled for 2017.

Read more: TalkTalk boss says Ofcom's plans for BT and Openreach are not enough

John Donovan, chief strategy officer and group president of technology and operations at AT&T, said:

Project AirGig has tremendous potential to transform internet access globally – well beyond our current broadband footprint and not just in the United States. The results we’ve seen from our outdoor labs testing have been encouraging, especially as you think about where we’re heading in a 5G world. To that end, we’re looking at the right global location to trial this new technology next year.

The tech changes are coming as UK internet service providers battle for control over BT's infrastructure arm Openreach.

It's claimed by BT's rivals that Openreach has failed to invest in the UK's fiber network under the BT umbrella and should be hived off.

The regulator is still to make a final decision, having recently advised BT should retain control of the business. The possibility continues to hang over BT however and would potentially be catastrophic for its massive pension deficit and plans for expansion if Openreach were taken away from it.