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  • Monday, July 2, 2012

    Amateurs Challenge Broadband-over-Power-Line Rules

    You have to admire their persistence. ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, has yet again challenged the FCC’s rules for Broadband-over-Power-Line (BPL), just as it has at every opportunity since the FCC first proposed BPL back in 2003.

    As you would expect from the name, BPL transmits broadband over the same lines that carry electric power along the street, siphoning off signals to houses and apartments along the way. Its proponents once hailed BPL as the “third wire” into the home for broadband service, the other two being the cable TV and telephone (or FIOS) connections. But in recent years BPL providers have scaled back their ambitions. Now they mostly help out electric utilities with internal communications for meter reading, load management, and the like. Few consumers receive their Internet service via BPL.
    But ARRL has not scaled back its opposition.

    Some BPL systems, as a by-product, generate radio signals on frequencies that overlap with the amateur radio bands. Everyone agrees that interference into amateur radio receivers is at least a theoretical possibility. But there is less agreement on how much interference BPL systems actually cause. The amateurs claim that a BPL system amounts to a city-sized antenna that blankets the amateur bands with interference.  BPL providers counter that any interference comes from isolated equipment mounted on widely spaced power poles, and can be identified and adjusted if necessary.

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