Michigan Lift for BPL

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A Michigan state agency has helped to obtain funding for a private company aiming to deliver broadband service over local power lines to two small communities west of the state capital in Lansing.

The Michigan Broadband Development Authority, an agency of the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth, helped to obtain a $520,000 loan for Shpigler Group Inc., a New York firm that will do business as Lighthouse Broadband and will be the first BPL (broadband-over-power-line) provider in the state, according to the MBDA.

Lighthouse will provide broadband service to business and residential customers in Grand Ledge and St. Johns. The infrastructure will be used to provide electric-outage notification and automatic meter reading, and it will enhance management of electricity demand.

The state agency helped the vendor with financing at a cost lower than those available in the traditional venture-capital markets. Lighthouse’s loan is for $520,000.

Comcast Corp. is among the broadband incumbents in the area.

This will be the fifth commercial BPL application in the nation, according to the MBDA. The project was supported because it allows consumers to choose broadband services for their homes or businesses without the cost of developing new cable or fiber infrastructure.

Parts of the communities are made up of farmland, so line extensions can be very expensive. BPL offers speeds comparable to those achieved by cable modems, and the upstream and downstream speeds are the same.

Several other states are considering forming similar broadband-funding agencies, according to the MBDA.