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Nortel/Norweb pulls plug on Internet over electricity scheme

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Plans to access the Net in the home using electric wiring instead of phone lines have been scrapped -- for now. United Utilities has withdrawn its financial backing for Digital PowerLine (DPL) technology after it informed the Stock Exchange yesterday that market conditions simply didn't justify the investment. UU and Nortel Networks set up the joint venture company NOR.WEB DPL Ltd in May 1998 to develop DPL technology. DPL would have enabled data to be transferred down existing power cables directly into people's homes using protocols developed for the mobile phone world. A statement issued yesterday to those who had registered their interest in the service said: "...the supplier of Digital PowerLine equipment, NOR.WEB DPL Ltd, will close on the 30th September 1999, following the decision of Nortel Networks and United Utilities to withdraw their ongoing investment. "This decision is based on an evaluation of the future volume market potential for the Digital PowerLine (DPL) solution, although the technology itself had been well proven in the field. "Within the very competitive broadband access arena, where large scale deployments of high speed technologies are in progress and Nortel Networks has a strong portfolio, the market potential for DPL, based on current forecasts, cannot justify continued focus." The service was trialed in the North West of England. Plans to sell off the company have not been ruled out. ®

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