IBM (NYSE: IBM) is teaming up with to offer broadband Internet access over power lines.

IBEC is based in Huntsville.

The project is intended to make the service available to some 200,000 customers living in rural areas of Alabama, Virginia, Indiana and Michigan.

Funding will be provided by loans through the Rural Broadband Access Loans from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program.

IBM will provide project management and training as well as technical expertise.

Broadband signals are transmitted over power lines and are downloaded through modems that plug into electrical outlets.

"In the near-term, IBM and IBEC’s effort promises to bring broadband access to the scores of the nearly 45 percent of Americans that do not have it today," said Raymond Blair, director of Advanced Networks at IBM. "In the long-term, the effort will lead to the expansion of small businesses and creation of new industries, bringing new jobs to rural Americans and driving net new economic growth."

The first rural power cooperatives participating in the program include:

• Cullman Electric Cooperative in Alabama;

• Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC,

• Parke Country REMC in Indiana;

• South Central REMC in Indiana;

• Midwest Energy Cooperative in Michigan;

• BARC Electric Cooperative in Virginia;

• Central Virginia Electric Cooperative in Virginia.