What's Cooking? Broadband Over Gas Lines

Broadband-in-a-pipe technology could revolutionize the way we access the Web and receive our TV broadcasts.

Olga Kharif
Olga Kharif

In the past several years, we’ve heard about several interesting technologies, such as broadband over powerlines and Wi-Max, designed to deliver broadband to the home. Now, a little-known start-up, called Nethercomm, is pushing for wireless broadband over … gas lines.

You turn on your gas stove, and, as you cook your soup, you can also browse the Web. No, really!

Well, almost. Here’s how this would work: A telco would string high-speed fiberoptic cable to your neighborhood. From there, it’s typically much cheaper to deliver broadband to individual homes via copper lines or wirelessly. And Nethercomm’s wireless technology could be the highest-bandwidth and the cheapest out there.

Nethercomm claims it can send as much as 100 Gigabits of data per second via a wireless signal beamed through a gas pipe. That would allow a household to watch High-Definition TV.

Because gas pipes are grounded, the signal will come through loud and clear, no matter whether the pipe is made out of metal or plastic, says Pat Nunally, the outfit’s CEO. And it can travel for up to six miles without losing its strength.

Before the start-up runs its first pilot, slated for the summer of 2006, it faces lots of regulatory hurdles. For starters, it still needs to prove that the gas pipes thus used won’t implode. Nunally believes they won't, as energy companies already use wireless sensors in the pipeline.

This sounds like an intriguing technology to watch out for.

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