Some innovative utility companies are developing a way to send high-speed internet access via ubiquitous power lines, of all things—making every electrical outlet an always-on web connection. Industry watchers say that if the emerging technology works, it has the potential to help close the technology access gap in rural communities, bringing parents of students who live in remote areas into the digital age quickly.

If this sounds shocking, consider this: St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. and other utilities already are testing the technology, and many consider it feasible.

This truly


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