Internetnews.com reported that IBM plans to deploy broadband over power line (BPL) networks in seven states. The $9.6 million initiative will involve six electric cooperatives in rural areas and will bring high-speed Internet connectivity to millions of residents. IBM, the United Telecom Council and International Broadband Electric Communications (IBEC) believe that the rural market and electric cooperative market are promising.

Experts say BPL adoption has been slow partly because electric companies failed to pursue feasible business models for the technology. Market-research firm In-Stat, Scottsdale, Ariz., estimates that BPL had approximately 135,000 users at the end of 2008, about 5,000 more than in 2007.

In the project, IBM will oversee project management and crew training while IBEC serves as the Internet service provider. IBEC will supply technology and equipment to 62,000 potential subscribers in the first phase. Nationwide, there are 900 electric cooperatives that comprise 45 percent of the overall power grid and serve 12 percent of the U.S. population.