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US telecoms regulator - the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - has given the green light for operators to provide broadband over power lines in a move which it hopes will increase the availability of high-speed net access and increase competition.

In a ruling yesterday the FCC said it wanted to "encourage the development of Access Broadband over Power Line (Access BPL) systems" while ensuring that the technology does not interfere with other devices. It added: "By facilitating access to BPL, the commission takes an important step toward increasing the availability of broadband to wider areas of the country because power lines reach virtually every home and community. In areas where consumers already have broadband access, BPL can enhance competition by providing another broadband alternative."

In the UK, Southern Electric is one company that is already offering broadband over power cables. The service costs from £19.99 a month for a 150k service although availability is limited. ®

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