Broadband Via Natural Gas Pipes?

Posted on September 14, 2006

NethercommUSA Today reports that a company called Nethercomm wants to deliver broadband using natural gas pipes using Broadband-in-Gas technologies.
Now the relentless pursuit for faster, cheaper broadband is leading to perhaps the last unclaimed conduit to your house: natural gas pipes.

Nethercomm, a San Diego-area start-up, says it has developed technology to send lightning-fast broadband and TV services via wireless signals through the pipes that deliver the fuel used to heat homes and fire up stoves.

Gas pipes serve 62% of U.S. households, says the American Gas Association. Broadband in Gas, or BIG, could give consumers a third high-speed option at low costs and speeds that far surpass today's phone and cable offerings. It also could bring fast Internet to unserved rural areas. But, so far, the idea has been met with both excitement and skepticism.
Some are calling it a "pipe dream" while others think the idea could work. Here is how the concept would work.
Broadband in Gas would require installation of an ultrawideband transmitter that's linked to an Internet backbone or pay-TV facility at a gas company's network hub. A receiver would be placed at a customer's gas meter. Build-out costs are about $200 per household, Nethercomm says. By contrast, broadband over power lines costs about $600 per household, while phone and cable TV networks each cost well over $1,000 per home to build, says West Technology Research Solutions.
If it provides cheap super-fast broadband connections there will be consumer interest.