For the longest time, I always thought the biggest obstacle to electric cars was building out charging stations. It just seemed infeasible for a company to build out an electric car platform and a complete nationwide charging network at the same time. It seemed like an intractable chicken and egg problem.
Seemingly the way to combat this would be to leverage a pre-existing network. Set up the charging stations in existing retail or commercial space where people already park. Well AT&T seems to be thinking along similar lines for their wireless gigabit internet deployments.
AT&T’s Project AirGig is now in advanced talks with several power companies to start testing their service. The antennas for the high speed service would be installed directly on existing power lines. Aside from saving AT&T a ton of money by either having to upgrade existing towers or buying the land to put up new ones, I see this as a huge boon for broadening access. The last mile problem for a lot of rural consumers means they have to reply on either slow dial-up or laggy satellite connections for internet. Being able to easily deploy towers wherever there is power would completely change the equation.
AT&T will trial AirGig in the US and abroad in 2017. They’ll be looking at how network performance varies under load and across greater distances, and more physical factors like the effect of seasonal elements on the equipment.
We’re just starting to take baby steps, but I like the idea of taking an infrastructure we’ve largely figured out how to deliver, power, and use it to help provide high speed broadband access to consumers.