Electric companies may soon offer Internet services, FCC commissioner says

By Josh Peterson | Watchdog.org

SANTA FE, N.M. — Eectric companies may someday provide Internet to homes, according to a top federal telecommunications regulator.

ONLINE: Your power company may one day offer Internet service.

Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Mignon Clyburn told an audience of state and local utilities regulators during a keynote speech Monday that “many electric utilities” have expressed interest in offering broadband services to their customers.

Telecommunications and energy industry representatives also attended the first full day of the four-day conference — Current Issues 2014, hosted by New Mexico State University’s Center for Public Utilities Advisory Council.

Clyburn overviewed the FCC’s net neutrality agenda, the transition from traditional communications to Internet-based communications, and inmate calling and 911 services.

She also defended the FCC’s reforms for its LifeLine program, famously known as “Obamaphones,” and the agency’s efforts to connect schools with broadband services.

But Clyburn’s remarks about electric companies were particularly relevant — the convergence of electric and telecommunications companies was a recurring theme through the remainder of the day.

The FCC’s deadline for accepting “expressions of interest” for federal funding for experimental broadband projects passed March 7, but Clyburn encouraged companies and organizations to continue submitting proposals to the agency.

“I can tell you that they have expressed interest,” said Clyburn, speaking of the electric companies. “I have no way of saying if they have proposed anything by way of experiments.”

“But I am hopeful that they will,” she said.

Contact Josh Peterson at jpeterson@watchdog.org. Follow Josh on Twitter at @jdpeterson

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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