US electricity firms offering broadband over power lines (BPL) face an uphill struggle tempting customers to sign up to receive both internet connectivity and electricity from a single provider, newly published market research has claimed.
According to the study from energy analyst group Platts, nearly a quarter of residential customers said they would be very interested in BPL if their utility company could beat the price of broadband internet alternatives.
However, Michael Reid, a research director at Platts, added: "But interest dropped sharply when we introduced specific price points.
"At $29.95 per month, [which is] below typical prices for internet access via cable or DSL, only nine per cent were still very interested."
Utility firms will need to strengthen customer confidence in their ability to deliver BPL efficiently and economically, according to Platts.
When asked how they thought BPL would rate on such attributes as reliability, customer service and technical support, customers gave their utilities moderate to low scores.
Customers were also found to be sceptical about their utility supplier being able to offer a broadband service at a competitive price.
"One step that utilities can take is to team with an established national ISP," said Marni Stein, market research manager with Platts.
"More than one third of the customers who are interested in BPL said they would be even more interested if their utility offered BPL in partnership with a major ISP."
Platts studied consumer reaction to BPL price points ranging from $19.95 to $59.95 per month.
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