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Ireland's electricity company, ESB, is to see whether it can deliver broadband over electric cables as part of a €50 million ($55.76 million) project part-funded by the Irish government.

News of the trial for Tuam, County Galway, was announced yesterday by Dermot Ahern, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

In a statement he said: "Powerline communications systems have the potential to provide an alternative broadband infrastructure, which can compete with local fixed telephony, cable, and wireless networks."

However, campaigners for more affordable and widely availabale Net access in Ireland have reserved their judgment amid concerns about the technology itself.

A spokesman for the Ireland Offline lobby group, told The Register: "We welcome any last mile infrastructure but we're unsure of the viability of powerline as a proven technology."

Powerline technology has been around for a number of years and has been trialled in Germany and the US.

In the UK, Scottish and Southern Energy Group has launched commercial trials of broadband through three-pin electrical sockets in Winchester, Hampshire and Stonehaven in Scotland. ®

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