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FCC mulls an 'electricity Internet'

In its ongoing quest to give a fair hearing to any and all things broadband-related, the Federal Communications Commission today turned its attention to energy efficiency.

Specifically, the smart grid.

"Smart grid and broadband are first cousins," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

The idea, sensibly enough, is that the same high-speed, ubiquitous connectivity that gives us zippy file downloads and high-resolution streaming video could also link up household appliances and power meters, breathing a form of intelligent management and energy conservation into an electrical grid that proponents remind us would look very familiar to Thomas Edison.

"It is an electricity Internet that we're talking about," Rep. Ed Markey said in introductory remarks at the field hearing the FCC held at M.I.T., the research jewel of Markey's district.

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