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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Broadband Internet Plug and Play

John Bardos (N8SEX) on June 13, 2004
Website: http://equipped.msn.com/article.aspx?aid=4
View comments about this article!


Broadband Internet
Plug and Play

Coming to a power line near you?

By David S. Bennahum
Reprinted with permission from Slate.com


Roughly 50 million homes in the United States connect to the Internet through broadband, typically cable or DSL (but to a limited degree satellite as well). Although that sounds like a lot, it's still a far cry from the nearly 70 million homes with dial-up connections. But this month, a new service is being rolled out that, over time, could dramatically change the economics of broadband Internet and transform what is largely a duopoly between cable and DSL into a competitive market.

The new option: connecting to the Internet through electrical sockets. In this scenario, the home user plugs a specialized modem into the wall socket and is immediately brought online at speeds up to 3 megabits per second, as fast as any broadband service on the market today. Known as " broadband over power lines, " or BPL, the service is currently available to 16,000 homes in Cincinnati.

Marketed under the brand Communications, (http://www.currentgroup.com/), the Cincinnati offering came as something of a surprise. For years, the idea of delivering Internet access through power lines has been stymied by engineering problems that until recently seemed intractable. As far back as March 2000, CNET reported that companies were close to delivering high-speed Internet access through power lines, but nothing came of it. It's taken four years to turn the theory into commercial reality. Current Communications won't reveal the specifics of what made its technology perform as promised, but in general terms, what's historically hindered the deployment of BPL is that the electrical system was designed to transmit electricity and nothing else.

Don't be shocked. Two major obstacles make transmitting Internet signals through power lines a difficult proposition. The first is that power lines are designed not to interfere with other electromagnetic signals, such as radio and television. Metal wires made of aluminum and copper (the stuff that carries electricity) are also natural antennas. So, utility companies, in order to comply with FCC regulations over what gets broadcast where and how, learned to shield their systems from producing interference with these other licensed signals. A properly built electrical grid transmits electricity at a frequency of 60 hertz. In principle, those same wires could carry another signal, using a different frequency. The problem is that could jam up things like TV and radio transmissions.

Current Communications figured out a way to transmit Internet signals along another frequency — it won't disclose which, other than to say it's somewhere between 1.7 megahertz and 30 megahertz and complies with FCC regulations that the signal not interfere with other transmissions. And in February, the FCC ruled that BPL systems could go forward, clearing a major regulatory hurdle. The road's not entirely clear for the technology, however. The FCC has acknowledged that BPL transmission may interfere with amateur ham-radio broadcasts, and that problem will likely need to be solved before BPL can become as common as cable and DSL connections.

The other major technical challenge for BPL systems is that utilities "step down" electrical power from 10,000 volts to 120 volts before electricity enters the home. This is done through a transformer (visible on telephone poles as a kind of big metal bucket). By figuring out a way for Internet signals to bypass the transformer, Current Communications can bring BPL into the home without the risk of bringing along deadly 10,000-volt electricity with it.

Current Communications and Cinergy, the Cincinnati utility that's providing the electrical grid for the service, tested the system for a year in 100 of the city's households. In addition to the 16,000 homes currently eligible for the service, they plan to offer it to 55,000 homes by the end of the year. Cinergy says it intends to bring BPL, in a second venture, to the 24 million American homes in rural communities that either have no broadband option or just one (typically DSL).

Current Communications, meanwhile, intends to mimic what it's done with Cinergy throughout the rest of the (non-rural) country -- partner with utilities to bring BPL to as many American homes as possible. It won't be the only one trying. A company called Amperion has rolled out a BPL service in Ontario and is in trials with EarthLink and Progress Energy to test a similar system in North Carolina. Last October, the city of Manassas, Va., signed an agreement with Powerline Communications to offer every household BPL access by the end of this year. Another entrant into this field is Ambient, which is undergoing field trials in Alabama in conjunction with a subsidiary of the utility Southern Co.

How fast can it go?
For the moment, though, more households can buy BPL from Current Communications than from any other company. Current offers three price ranges based on speed: One megabit per second costs $29.95 per month, 2 megabits per second costs $34.95, and 3 megabits per second costs $39.95. This is about the same speed and price as DSL and cable, but there's one important difference. Current Communications delivers a "symmetrical" service, where your upload speed is as fast as your download speed. Cable and DSL are "asynchronous." Your download speed may be fast, but your upload speed is only a fraction of that -- typically 80 percent or 90 percent slower. (Satellite upload speeds are even worse.) The ability to deliver synchronous speeds is unique to BPL, and more and more Internet users require a fast upload speed to get the most out of the Net. File-sharers upload files all the time, but there are other examples. Internet telephony requires some amount of uploading anytime you're on the phone, and video instant-messenger applications upload data, too.

Understandably, utilities will be closely watching the way Cinergy works with Current Communications. If BPL is a hit with Cincinnati consumers, and it causes no problems when it comes to maintenance of the electrical grid, then it's hard to imagine why any utility would refuse to offer a similar service. BPL may even provide utilities with a benefit beyond additional revenue: The same system that transmits Internet data can be used to remotely monitor household electricity usage, obviating the need to send a technician out to inspect the household meter. The system can also provide detailed feedback on electricity usage in real time, which could potentially detect brownouts before they escalate into blackouts.

If BPL takes off, cable and DSL (along with satellite) will face even more pressure to lower prices while simultaneously increasing speed. That's the dynamic that made much of the rest of our technological world, from DVD players to personal computers, as cheap and ubiquitous as electricity.


David S. Bennahum is a contributing writer with Wired and the author of "Extra Life: Coming of Age in Cyberspace."  

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N3HKN on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Finally, I can get rid of the large ugly antennas, the rat's nest of wires, the extra power supply, and the very expensive transceiver I have used for years to to speak with Hams throughout the world. This system will offer to me the same service in a much neater package through the Internet, Echolink and Net Meeting. If the Ham I want to talk to does not have an Internet connection, no problem since Echolink will put him in touch with the world through his HT. Why should I fiddle with Ionospheres, SWRs, angry neighborhood committees, and the consumption of ever more expensive electricity to speak, and in some cases see, the people of the world.

The Department of Homeland Security has funded all of the fire and EMT organizations with communications systems that fully interlink these organizations with police and other government entities. Emergency communications is now almost foolproof. The need for Hams to continue to use valuable spectrum space has come to an end. The world, is right here on our PCs as we sit in a Cyber Cafe sipping Starbuck's best!

Dick N3HKN
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KC8WCW on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

N3HKN: The rest of the modern world completely agrees with you, only without the slightest hint of underlying sarcasm. Most Hams would immediately inform you that the internet "ain't exactly radio!" The humor there however, is that the only people who give the slightest rip about that are Amateur Radio Operators.
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KB9CRY on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
And, I will take your soon to be useless FT-1000 (any model) rig off your hands for $100 plus shipping. Phil KB9CRY
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by WA0ZZG on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I had the chance to explain BPL to one of the local
EMA. He carefully listened, thought for a while,
then only had one question: Will they be able to
shut it off in case of an emergency? I tried to
explain that even if they could, it wouldn't make
any difference. Most of the Amateur volunteers
wouldn't be there anymore. He wasn't happy. Look
through current history to what happens to governments
that for what ever reason permanently shut down
amateur radio.
Dave...
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N8MMZ on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Well I wouldn't bee too fast in selling off my transmitter (SB-401). I might need it as a signal booster on my BPL system at home.

73s N8MMZ
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KF7CG on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, they won't say exactly which frequency because they use everyone that they can get. Need more speed! No problem! Use more frequencies!

That is the physics rules, you want more bandwidth (speed) you have to use more bandwidth (frequencies).

When will the consumer ever learn "There ain't no freee lunch, nowhere."

 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by K3UD on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I notice that in most of these BPL stories/reviews that amateur radio is the only service that is mentioned when potential interference is talked about. Never a word about over the air television, broadcasr radio at the high end of the AM band and low end of the FM band, fire and police, paging, FAA frequencies, short wave broadcast, RC aircraft and a myriad of other users of this spectrum.

Another, and possibly more important interference realated problem will be the potential for BPL to be interfered with by the very services that are subject to it's interference. This will mean BIG problems for the users of BPL. This is never mentioned in the mainstream articles about BPL. I wonder why this aspect of it is only mentioned in Amateur Radio circles?

The existing services cable and DSL services are relatively interference free and broadband wireless as well as BPL in the gigahertz range is on the way as well. In Kentucky, Bell South has been given a mandate to supply DSL service to all parts of the state. The argued about the economics for years, but are now starting to comply.

IMHO BPL, in order to be economically viable will have to directly compete with cable and DSL in areas where there is a lot of population density in order to just break even while service to the boonies may well be a loser.

Also the 50 million and 70 million broadband and modem connections in the US might be suspect unless a whole lot of this is for business. There are only around 110 million households in the US and the last numbers I saw for the mid south region showed that while about 60% of all households had a home computer, about 65% of those were connected in some way to the internet. Broadband in this part of the country barely reaches 30% of those who do have a connection, and there is some attrition being noted as people switch back to $12.00 month dial up as they realize they do not need $35.00 per month broadband to do what they do online.

73
George
K3UD

73
George
K3UD
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KG4YJR on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
George, K3UD

As you mentioned and so have others and myself in previous articles, shortwave broadcasts are also becoming a thing of the past. I know of three major stations that have shut down their radio broadcasts due to enormous costs and lack of interest anymore and are only offering an Internet streaming broadcast of their shows. Even VOA has cut down their broadcast schedule with more cuts coming soon. As little as twenty years ago if you wanted to know what the local news or weather was like behind the iron curtain (cold war era) or in Paris, France you either had to have a shortwave receiver or a friend that lived there that you could telephone. Now, with the Internet, you can read nearly all local newspapers in the world and there are tens of thousands of webcams, even in "Red Square" that you can access 24/7 at your own convenience vs. waiting until 2:00am in the morning and hoping for a good signal that would last 15 or 20 minutes.
SWL enthusiasts are even fewer than hams so any opposition from them gets even less attention than the 700,000+/- ham population spread out in all 50 states.

Face it folks, it would take someone starting a widespread rumor that BPL will harm and affect illegal aliens and minorities for our elected government officials to start paying any real attention to this issue at all and to even put up some fake, pretended and scripted opposition to it. Anything else, even the public's safety, is the last thing on these career politicians mind.

73
Dave
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N5LB on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting bits of pessimism masked masquerading as reality. Why not wriet the author and tell him what you think of his article. I did, politely I think. but with facts and links.

Lionel N5LB
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AG4RQ on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Nice piece of propaganda. If propaganda is written effectively, it can convince the masses that it is good for our health and well-being to have toxic chemicals dumped into our drinking water. This piece is telling us that the greatest invention since the wheel is on the horizon, and how in the world has civilization gotten along without BPL until now?
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N5MZL on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
One thing is clear; the guy who wrote the article is utterly clueless as to what he's talking about. This is revealed with his statement that the voltage on the drop to your home is only 110 volts.

Of course, that the article was initially published on slate.com explains a lot right there. Geez...

73 de N5MZL
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N8MMZ on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
N5MZL:

Not to nitpick, but in your statement, "This is revealed with his statement that the voltage on the drop to your home is only 110 volts." The author of the article did not specify L-N or L-L.

I'm assuming he meant 120V L-N which in a center-tapped 1-phase HV to 240V transformer is correct. Remeber, you have a 120/240V, 3wire service with the center tap being the grounded conductor.

73s N8MMZ
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KD2KU on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
So.... you want BPL, eh? :-)

http://205.243.100.155/frames/longarc.htm#500_kV_Switch

http://205.243.100.155/frames/longarc.htm#Disconnect

http://205.243.100.155/frames/longarc.htm#Blowup
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AA4PB on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The good thing about BPL is that it probably won't last too long. The average person (which probably includes most of the investers and corporate management) thinks that you plug in the internet at the power company and user simply plugs into one of his outlets in rural America and he has instant high speed Internet access. They fail to realize that it takes a bunch of repeaters down the line to get the signal into rural America and that even if they get it to your front yard they have to put a bypass around the transformer (or use 802.11) to get it into the house. That translates to a lot of money which means it'll probably never serve rural America any more than DSL and Cable. They also fail to realize that in addition to causing RFI, it is subject to RFI from outside licensed radio transmissions and the power compainies own arcing insulators.
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AB5XZ on June 13, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
If there's no RFI from BPL, what is the noise that hams hear when driving in BPL neighborhoods? Chopped liver?

Reading the latest NTIA reports on BPL, I see that the noise level from a single local emitter will be reduced below a "recommended" level at 30 meters from the power line. My home is on a fairly good sized lot (about 1/3 acre). The power lines run along the back of the lot, and they are underground. Getting 30 meters away will require me to put my antenna out in the front yard! Not a good plan!

I am really concerned that BPL is going to add to the (already high) existing noise level where I live.

Current and others want us to believe that they can add to the ambient noise level without any consequence. Shannon's law does not lie. Nothing is free, including bandwidth. Lawyers and PR flacks are not going to change that.
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by W1RFI on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Reading the latest NTIA reports on BPL, I see that
> the noise level from a single local emitter will be
> reduced below a "recommended" level at 30 meters
> from the power line. My home is on a fairly good
> sized lot (about 1/3 acre). The power lines run
> along the back of the lot, and they are underground.
> Getting 30 meters away will require me to put my
> antenna out in the front yard! Not a good plan!


The noise level from a single BPL emitter will presumably be at 30 uV/m 30 meters from the power line. With the "cheating" allowed by Sec. 15.37(f), it could be 20 dB higher.

IIRC, the NTIA Phase I report indicated that interference to government fixed stations was likely at distances of up to 500 meters from a power line.

Hams have heard BPL signals almost 2 miles from a power line.

Ed Hare, W1RFI

 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by W1RFI on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> That is the physics rules, you want more bandwidth
> (speed) you have to use more bandwidth
> (frequencies).

Or operate at a higher signal/noise ratio. That is why the BPL industy is asking the FCC to raise the limits after the initial BPL deployment proves that there will be no interference that they can fix with notching so they are asking the FCC to waive the harmful interference rules. :-)

Ed
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by EXPRO on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
What a rose colored picture this guy paints. This dude is clearly either a major stockholder or a BPL media ringer. I vote we disown him from the ham ranks.
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KC8VWM on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

My first thought when it comes to deloying BPL would be it's ROI or "Return On Investment."

If I were thinking out of the box for a moment as an investor, I would like to know the following:

A:) How is BPL any better than Internet services already offered.

B:) How does the costs compare to services that are already being offered.

C:) What are the current trends in internet connectivity consumer purchasing?


Firstly, BPL is not any better than any other internet connectivity services being offered. It is "supposed" to be a service for those individuals that have no other means of connecting to the internet.

Secondly, the costs of BPL connectivity in your home is going to be the same as DSL or other similar Boradband services, yet BPL will not achieve the same data transfer rates.

Current consumer trends suggest that the majority of individuals are still using dial up access. The main reason for this is probobly the low cost when compared to braodband services. Broadband companies in general like AOL, SBC, and WOW are struggling to be competetive and have been agressively trying to offer lower costs to consumers. However, it is important to recognize that they have not attracted any significant portion of the Dial-Up to switch to Broadband.

I feel that even if BPL were successful, the costs to the consumer would be equal to similar broadband services currently offered.

It is for this reason that BPL investors might only see this as another Dot Com investment fad.

The current state of our economy is the primary reason that there are less broadband internet users and more dial up access users. BPL is not going to change that when there are more realiable broadband services already available to the consumer.


73

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AA4PB on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I submit that the reason many people (and businesses) are using dial up is because there is no reasonably priced broadband available (other than satellite which has a slower uplink speed than dialup). DSL has a technical limitation requiring you to be within 3 miles of a switch and that leaves out most of the country. Cable can go anywhere but for economic reasons they will not run cable unless there is a sufficient customer base to make it cost effective. That leaves out much of the country.

BPL "promises" to bring broad band to everyone but I seriously doubt it for the same reasons that cable does not bring broadband to everyone - money. No one is going to want to install a bunch of repeaters to bring BPL to one customer. The result will be that BPL will serve only those areas with a sufficient customer base to support it economically - the same areas already served by cable and DSL. BPL will wind up just being another player in the limited broadband field.
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N4KIT on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Synchronous...for now.

What folks like this guy fail to realize is scalability. While true that right now in trial areas, the service is synchronous, that will not remain the case once subscriber density reaches the point that available carrier spectrum is maxed. At that point, the only choice available to the providers to maintain even modest download speeds, will be to decrease the upload side bandwidth.

The ONLY system I have seen which even remotely seems viable is the system which uses rf carrier in the 2GHz range(if I recall correctly, this is the Corridor system). Not only are the interference issues an order of magnetude more manageable, the available carrier bandwidth is much wider. I just don't understand why we are not hearing more about Corridor. Perhaps W1RFI has some input in this regard...

If we are to have a BPL service, I would like to see it be the best available and most minimally invasive system possible.

73,
Chris N4KIT
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by WB2WIK on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
BPL = Bulls**t Plan Lives

For now, but hopefully not for long!

WB2WIK/6

 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N2OBY on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
<<One thing is clear; the guy who wrote the article is utterly clueless as to what he's talking about. This is revealed with his statement that the voltage on the drop to your home is only 110 volts. >>

Correct about his misrepresentation of the facts: Broadband cable provides 10 MBPS and is synchronous (at least mine is).

N2OBY
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AB5XZ on June 14, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Synchronous or symmetric?

Symmetric = upload and download speed are the same.

Synchronous = ?
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N7CAV on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Dated but interesting thread from Wifi Planet about the first footsteps of WISP's and Hams knocking heads . . .

http://www.isp-planet.com/fixed_wireless/politics/2001/regulation_2.4_bol.html

The same logic is true with BPL, I'm sure . . .

- trooper
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by W1RFI on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> If we are to have a BPL service, I would like to see
> it be the best available and most minimally invasive
> system possible.

Minimally invasive is not enough. Under Part 15, BPL unconditionally must not cause harmful interference. Anything less is flouting the law.

The emissions levels that work for the present spate of devices -- my neighbor's computer -- do not work for BPL. I hear a couple of birdies from my neighbor's computer system. It is not on all the time, and when it is, most of the time, I can avoid the birdies and have access to the spectrum that my license conveys. I don't hear birdies from the house a block up the street.

BPL operates at the same level, 24 hours a day, continuously across several amateur bands. I cannot avoid its "birdies" because they are present in the band -- and modulated -- every 1.1 kHz, or they are simply broadband noise that fills the entire band. They are all coupled onto the overhead lines, to they are loud and clear for a mile or so from the point where they are injected into the line, and there are several signals injected over that mile.

It is technically niave -- or politically expedient -- to believe that the rules that work to a point for some devices can be made to work under these systems. There is no way that S9-level noise across and entire block of spectrum will not cause harmful interference.

Ed Hare, W1RFI



Ed Hare, W1RFI
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AB5XZ on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Maybe, to prove the point of BPL's harmful interference, we should insist that BPL be allowed (or even REQUIRED) to operate in the 550 KHz to 1.7 MHz band. That would certainly demonstrate the harmful interference to Citizen Joe Broadband. My Part 15 compliant microwave oven (1 year old) blots out KTRH here in Houston 740AM). And I have NO recourse to the manufacturer.
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by K1ZF on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
This article is obviously not aimed at hams; the guy must have a wheelbarrow in front of him when he walks to carry his you-know-whats
to publish it on here.

Gene, K1ZF
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KA0GWS on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
What is the potential of the BPL debate being escalated beyond the FCC? BPL has the mark for legal battleground between the Amateur community and service providers of BPL. Amateur Radios operators may be causing interference to BPL inadvertently without knowing the (BPL) frequency. If I operate SSTV on 14.230, running 500W to cut through the BPL noise level, there’s a likelihood I am interfering with BPL services without knowing it. This may force me to discontinue 20M ham – or any other HF activity from my residence.

Do we really know the impact of frequencies beyond 30MHz? Harmonics and spurious emissions can be a major concern given the physics of RF transmissions.
This may be the time to solicit help from manufactures of radio communications products and radio/television stations to petition the expansion of BPL; not only nationally, but worldwide. If pocketbooks of manufactures and radio/televisions are impacted, the economical justification may cause them to voice their concerns to the FCC.

I do not believe that service providers of BPL will be encouraged to minimize interference they cause. They may be more concerned with securing customer data from power line usage to eliminate churns. The ability for someone to eaves-drop on a BPL signal is not yet known –power lines throughout the country are too vulnerable to tampering. This may force users to activate sophisticated encryption methodologies further complicating BPL usage, setup, etc.

Rationale for BPL is purely economics…

Don D. (KA0GWS)
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by W0FMS on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The commentary about BPL being about economics is right on, but it's a false economy. I think one of the biggest shames is that the power companies if they really want to play in this field need to run fiber.

It'll be expensive in the short term, but much more reliable in the long-term.

If I was the cable co I'd be happy as a clam that the power co's are going with this non-technology. When the Power Co's get their 1Mbps links to their customers going for $39/mon the cable co's will just triple the bandwidth to 3Mbps for their $39/mon customers with the fiber they have in place..and the pwer co's will be screwed...The cable co's have a head start on them to boot.

Does anyone know anyone in the ISP business? It's gotta be the most cut-throat business in the world. The excitment over BPL is like being excited to open up a gas station. It's a cheap commodity now. I think the whole thing is rather funny. I do believe we will get the last laugh here. And we will be able to rub it in too.

I think the next step in the fight is to use my friend and neighbor Jim Spencer as an example of how the NTIA's assertion of BPL cleaning up the lines is wrong.

Jim and I had active complaints against Alliant Energy here in Cedar Rapids until I decided to move to the country for that reason and many others. His complaints have been very legitimate and have been going on for several years for the "normal" power line noise.

I wasn't as bad as Jim. I only has S-7 to S-9 noise through about 60 MHz at my place. He was 10-20 dB worse than that. Now I read it's 6-12dB worse.

The ARRL/FCC would send Alliant a letter to clean it up, they'd have their lawyer draft a letter promising to fix the situation (at least they did with me). This would repeat after 6-12mon of nothing being done.

Now on top of that, they've really not fixed their antiquated lines in CR, but they've dropped BPL on top of it. It's a mess. What is really going to happen with BPL on sloppy systems like Cedar Rapids is what is happening to Jim.

They'll add BPL, and crank it up to get over the noise their crappy lines already generate.

It's going to be a fun next five years in ham radio.. after that I'd not worry too much because I think BPL will implode under it's own and competitive weight.
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by W0FMS on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I should add at my new QTH the HF noise floor is a consistant 40dB less than it was in the city of Cedar Rapids. It's so nice to copy signals that don't even move the meter now...
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AE1X on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I think your buddy Jim has become the Poster Station for BPL interference. He and the League have filed for relief under the present regulations. I would not want to bet on a resolution any time soon, though. This one will go to the OET and be buried as have all the previous complaints against the test systems.

Ken, AE1X
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KB5PQL on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
You all are looking at the BLP Issue all wrong! ;) With so much interference we'll all be able to run 5-6000watts minimun on HF and when the F.C.C. knocks on your door just refer them to the nearest high voltage power pole! I'm lovin' this more and more! Excellent cover!
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N3EVL on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Don said:

"...If I operate SSTV on 14.230, running 500W to cut through the BPL noise level, there’s a likelihood I am interfering with BPL services without knowing it. This may force me to discontinue 20M ham – or any other HF activity from my residence..."

As I understand it, you'd be quite legal in doing so i.e. using minimum power needed to maintain effective communication as granted by your license. However, the BPL system, as a Part 15, unlicensed device, must accept any incoming interference from a licensed service. The bigger problem you might have to face is dealing with irate neighbors' complaints who will most likely be ignorant of or unimpressed by your valid legal status.

73, Pete
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by W1RFI on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Amateur Radios operators may be causing interference
> to BPL inadvertently without knowing the (BPL)
> frequency.

BPL is broadband. In Emmaus, PA, its frequency was continuous between about 5 and 25 MHz. Nothing but noise and the strongest stations sticking their head up above that noise were heard in that entire range.

> If I operate SSTV on 14.230, running 500W to cut
> through the BPL noise level, there’s a likelihood I
> am interfering with BPL services without knowing it.

Probably, although BPL at the FCC limit will be 40-70 dB higher than your local noise. To enjoy the same signal/noise ratio amateurs enjoy now, power levels would have to be increased to 15,000,000 to 1,500,000,000 watts.

> This may force me to discontinue 20M ham – or any
> other HF activity from my residence.

BPL is regulated under Part 15. Under those rules, unlicensed devices must not cause harmful interference to radio services and they must accept any interfence caused to them.

Ed Hare, W1RFI


 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KC8VWM on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

>>> BPL is regulated under Part 15. Under those rules, unlicensed devices must not cause harmful interference to radio services and they must accept any interfence caused to them. <<<

Some grey areas to think about?

Isn't it true though, that as Licensed Amateurs we have a responsibility and as a requirment by the FCC, that we must not cause "intentional interference" to ANY station, part 97 - 15 or otherwise?

For example, some cordless telephones operate in the 902-928 MHz band, secondary to other users. Other frequency segments, including several located in the amateur bands, have also been approved for high powered Part 15 devices.

This means that when a part 15 device is shared with the amateur service on a secondary basis, it is not to cause any interferance with any Amateur stations.

However, it would be equally important to understand that one might even conclude that every part 15 device used in every assigned spectrum of the amateur service on a secondary basis would then be intentionally interfering with our bands. After all, part 15 devices must not interfere with amateur communications right?

However, the very fact that a part 15 device signal is residing on a particular amateur frequency makes that frequency unusable for amateurs.

My question becomes: Would this not then be considered as a form of interference to an amateur station?

Also, I seriously doubt that this would automatically give us a licence to start carrying on a 100 watt QSO with your friend 4 blocks away on the part 15 device frequency to intentionally interfere with these part 15 devices, "just because they are part 15 devices" and they would just simply have to tolerate it.

Does it?

Also, keep in mind that some part 15 devices are licensed by the FCC.

(ie, BPL trial devices were licensed by the FCC even though they are part 15 devices.)

I think we will find out that they are many instance where part 15 devices are going to have some weight. Especially in the BPL arena.

73

Charles - KC8VWM
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by DUALGATEMOSFET on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
What do you suppose would happen if 700,000+ hams filed lawsuits against their electric companies and the FCC? It would be like a pack of hyenas attacking and devouring a lone zebra.

73 from DUALGATEMOSFET
aka
"The Epitaxial One"
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by W9IND on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Frankly, if I were plagued with illegal interference from BPL -- and if I knew that my signals had the ability to disrupt BPL service -- the least of my worries would be the rule of using minimum power necessary to conduct a QSO.

I'm not advocating breaking the law, but let me venture a few steps into Reality Land:

1. Who's going to check whether every one of your QSOs involved the minimum power necessary? Is anyone from the FCC going to be sitting in your shack and monitoring how much power you're using 24 hours a day? I think not.

2. Who's to say how much power you need? Sure, it might be a bad idea to use a kilowatt to talk to Chuckie down the street, but you could always crank up the juice and call, "CQ DX" till the cows come home. And if you can't hear any stations responding ... well, don't give up so easily. Keep trying. Maybe for an hour or two. And it might help to have a recording of your own voice to save your throat.

3. Beacons are cool things to have. And why have only one? Try four or five or six on a variety of frequencies. For propagation purposes, of course. And gee, nothing says they have to be limited to 10 watts ... RIGHT?

4. If ever the heat's on, you don't have to stay put. There are plenty of mobile units capable of generating healthy wattage. If possible, find out which points in the BPL system would be most vulnerable to a double shot of RF. And be sure to tell your friends to drive under them a few times a day -- calling "CQ DX" or whatever. Using full power, of course.

5. Remember, the ham community isn't the only group capable of complaining. If their own customers can't get reliable service -- because of all these, well, random interruptions -- they're going to have bigger problems than answering to us.

My only other suggestion is that the ARRL and the rest of us need to get out in front of this issue. We need to be proactive, rather than reactive, and the fact that the author of this story didn't see fit to contact the league or anybody else in the know tells me that the advocates of BPL are doing a better job of P.R. than we are.

What we SHOULD be doing is going to every local newspaper and TV station, small and large, and giving them the facts about what BPL could cause. A few recordings of BPL at its worst would reinforce our point. And whatever we do, we cannot merely complain about how it will affect our hobby.

Nobody cares about us, okay? But they might care if they couldn't even listen to their favorite AM or FM radio station without hearing a constant din of noise.

Come to think of it, why aren't America's radio broadcasting companies taking a stand against BPL? Their very livelihood is at stake.

Anyway, that's my two cents' worth. Again, I'm not suggesting we break the law -- but on the other hand, BPL providers shouldn't be breaking the law either. I have nothing against BPL per se, and would love it if all BPL providers would pick frequencies high enough to leave our frequencies unscathed.

But on the other hand, if they choose to ignore legalities, then we should choose to explore our own -- to the fullest extent possible.

73 to all,
Brian, W9IND







 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by W1RFI on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> Isn't it true though, that as Licensed Amateurs we
> have a responsibility and as a requirment by the
> FCC, that we must not cause "intentional
> interference" to ANY station, part 97 - 15 or
> otherwise?

By definition, harmful interference to a Part 15 device does not exist. Transmitting with the sole intent of causing interference to a Part 15 device would be illegal, however, because that is not a permitted one-way transmission.

> This means that when a part 15 device is shared with
> the amateur service on a secondary basis, it is not
> to cause any interferance with any Amateur stations.

Part 15 is not secondary to anyone. Part 15 devices are permitted to radiate on spectrum with the unconditional requirement that they not cause harmful inteference.

> However, it would be equally important to understand
> that one might even conclude that every part 15
> device used in every assigned spectrum of the
> amateur service on a secondary basis would then be
> intentionally interfering with our bands. After all,
> part 15 devices must not interfere with amateur
> communications right?

> However, the very fact that a part 15 device signal
> is residing on a particular amateur frequency makes
> that frequency unusable for amateurs.

In practice, yes. Under the rules, no, because under the rules, the Part 15 device must unconditionally give way to a licensed user. Under the scenario you describe, it would be illegal for a secondary amateur station to transmit on 30 meters. It would be pretty silly for the FCC to set up primary and secondary users, then pronounce that the secondary users couldn't use spectrum because when they did, it was unusable for the primary users.

> My question becomes: Would this not then be
> considered as a form of interference to an amateur
> station?

To answer that question, you might want to look at the rules that define harmful interference. If the transmission met the criteria outlined in the rules, it would be harmful interference. And that is defined as the repeated disruption of radio communications. If the tree falls in the forest...

> Also, I seriously doubt that this would
> automatically give us a licence to start carrying on
> a 100 watt QSO with your friend 4 blocks away on the
> part 15 device frequency to intentionally interfere
> with these part 15 devices, "just because they are
> part 15 devices" and they would just simply have to
> tolerate it.

I asked this question of Chris Imlay. Part 15 operation has no rights. However, if the 100-watt QSO with a friend 4 blocks away used more than the minimum necessary power, it would be a violation of Part 97.

> Also, keep in mind that some part 15 devices are
> licensed by the FCC. (ie, BPL trial devices were
> licensed by the FCC even though they are part 15
> devices.)

No Part-15 operation is licensed by the FCC. Some of the BPL test areas were authorized to operate under Part 5 -- the rules governing experimental stations or special temporary authority. In all cases, their Part 5 authorization was clear that if they caused interference, they had to shut down.

> I think we will find out that they are many instance
> where part 15 devices are going to have some weight.
> Especially in the BPL arena.

The FCC has had plenty of opportunity to do that, but has not done so to date. Non-radio devices such as wired telephones are not protected from interference. Cable TV is not protected from interference. To the contrary, the FCC has regulations that outline that the cable company must have sufficient shielding to keep leakage in at least 47 dB below the video carrier.

Ed Hare, W1RFI

 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KG6AMW on June 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I understand each administration has its agenda and playbook, but to just completely ignore science for SMALL political gain is discouraging. Even more so when you read the outstanding comments made to the FCC by some really technically competent organizations and individuals. Unfortunately the FCC will allow this thing to proceed, utilities, municipalities and investors will lose their investment and BPL companies will retire with their profit. The only thing that will kill this beast is the same thing that kills it in other countries. Large scale public outcries due to interference problems that occur when BPL spreads out far and wide. Then it becomes a political matter and the problem is solved by shutting it down. I was just hoping the FCC might skip taking the bait on this one.

KG6AMW
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AG4RQ on June 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Posted by KG6AMW on June 18, 2004:
"I understand each administration has its agenda and playbook, but to just completely ignore science for SMALL political gain is discouraging. Even more so when you read the outstanding comments made to the FCC by some really technically competent organizations and individuals. Unfortunately the FCC will allow this thing to proceed, utilities, municipalities and investors will lose their investment and BPL companies will retire with their profit. The only thing that will kill this beast is the same thing that kills it in other countries. Large scale public outcries due to interference problems that occur when BPL spreads out far and wide. Then it becomes a political matter and the problem is solved by shutting it down. I was just hoping the FCC might skip taking the bait on this one."

It is human nature to disregard the mistakes of others, refuse to learn from them and wind up making the same mistakes yourself. Once burned, you then learn from your own mistakes and kick yourself for not learning from others that made those same mistakes before you. KG6AMW, you are absolutely right. The United states will learn the hard way. It will take but a short time for the Great White Elephant of the 21st Century (a.k.a. BPL) to go the way of the 8-track and the Beta video cassette. It's all about money. Some will get rich. Others will lose their shirts. The American public will be the losers. When the electric companies lose their investments, they will recoup their losses by raising the electric rates. Thank you George W. Bush. Thank you Michael Powell. I will remember your incompetence on Election Day.

 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by KC7DMF on June 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, BPL from 1.7-80Mhz was what I have heard, Funny is not it? avoiding AM broadcast 530-1600 hmmmm. And when they need more speed just use that old analog FM broadcast band another 20+Mhz there, Why are they not using the FM Broadcast band atleast, since they claim there would be no interference, whats the problem??

Also, what about all the wiring in your house? Will that not radiate right INTO any piece of equipment? Even if it does not pass the transformer, it's still inside of the equipment, clock radios, Home receivers, TV's VCR's etc....... it may be a weak signal, but heck I get interference from a switching power supply from 10 feet away to a station in town running 50 KW+ AM admittedly, but never the less, I'm sure the level of noise the power supply outputs is minimal ~ = to B.S.PL

And if nothing else, what issue if any is there to a signal transmitted over the air(power lines) etc. on a receivers IF Freq? Would this not easily cause issues as well?



73's


Mark KC7DMF
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by N7XCH on June 19, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Repeat after me: Bad Technology, Bad Technology ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AE6IP on June 21, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
> What do you suppose would happen if 700,000+ hams
> filed lawsuits against their electric companies and
> the FCC? It would be like a pack of hyenas attacking
> and devouring a lone zebra.

I think you mean a pack of hamsters attacking a pair of mastodons.

 
RE: Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by AB5XZ on June 23, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Brett Kilbourne, Associate Counsel of the United Power Line Council, says in comments (June 22, 2004) before the FCC, that the power companies and BPL hardware makers "are the experts on BPL, not a misinformed set of armchair amateurs that still use vacuum tube transmitters."

That's not very friendly, Mr. Kilbourne. I guess I shouldn't comment on your clumsy attempts to practice engineering without a license. But trust me on this: Maxwell, Heaviside, Faraday, and others have already worked out the laws of physics, and those laws are not going to change just because you want them to. And you're not going to get rid of vacuum tubes for a while yet (Broadcast TV and radio transmitters, high power radars, CRT displays, microwave ovens). UPLC members are the same folks that tell hams their receivers are just too sensitive.
 
Broadband Internet Plug and Play  
by VE7LGT on June 28, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Ok but what happens when the power goes off . Have you or the no minds at the power companies thought of that ? Probably not!! Hey I here that you guys have been out flying, you consider yourselfs pilots thanks to Microsoft Flight !!! This message has been brought to you Via Dialup . ADSL and Cable are available to me but Dial up is good enough for me . I feel sorry for the poor sap that knocks on my door tring to sell me BPL. But then again running a 100 watt beacon station with low profile antenna and screwing up all the neighbors who got sucked in to BPL now thats fun HI !!!!!


 
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