Plugged In To The Net

Norweb Communications, part of British Gas, recently announced an intriguing new way of accessing the Internet - via your electricity supply.

Norweb plan to feed data through the electricity supply to homes and businesses, claiming that speeds up to 1Mbit/sec of data will be possible. (For comparison, ISDN runs at 64kbit/sec and the most popular modem speed is 28.8kbit/sec.) However, since there would be groups of houses sharing the same network, things would run more slowly if several connections were running at once. At the moment, this sort of networking is only used for low-bandwidth connections such as baby alarms.

The research group believe they have solved the problems of interference on the power lines which had held up previous attempts to transmit data in this way. They're now keen to exploit the new method of access and compete with traditional telecommunications companies for the lucrative data transmission market.

It is hoped that connections using the new technology will be available in 1998.