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Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms

Created by Tim Lewallen on 2003-08-02
Broadband over Powerline - Call to Action!

The Amateur Radio Service has long had a love/hate relationship with the FCC. The same federal organization that protects our precious radio spectrum is the same one that can take it away - or allow it to be taken from us as is potentially the case with the current debate over Broadband over Powerline, (BPL).

BPL is a technology that allows high speed internet to be distributed over high voltage power lines that criss-cross the United States. The system would allow current power companies to become internet service providers to much of the country with most of their customers living in rural areas that are currently not being serviced by existing Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) or Cable broadband services.

The area of concern by the amateur radio community is that this internet signal is transmitted through the electrical lines at frequencies from 2Mhz to 80Mhz - 80 through 6 meters. Studies have shown that, at the power levels suggested by the power companies along with the transmission lines acting like very large antennas, the typical amateur operator with have an estimated 33.7db to 65.4db of additional ambient noise to contend with!

As you can see, this has the potential for dramatically changing the way users will be able to operate on the HF bands. If they are able to operate at all. But things don't have to be that way.

There are a few things you can do to let the FCC know that you feel that allowing BPL to advance will be a detriment to The Amateur Radio Service.

First you can support the ARRL by joining if you are not already a member. The ARRL is the only national organization that represents and defends amateur radio interests to state and federal government. Average Joe Ham User may not be able to go to Washington D.C. and get before a House Committee, but ARRL President Jim Haynie can and has, to wave the flag of amateur radio.

Secondly, you can contribute to the ARRL Spectrum Defense Fund, a fund that goes towards protecting our precious radio spectrum when it is eyed by corporate America. Big business has big pockets and on Capitol Hill money talks in a round about way. The Spectrum Defense Fund gives us more of a fighting chance when stating our case to the FCC by paying for studies and to develop technologies that allow us to work with business in a mutually beneficial way instead of competing, where the amateur radio community often gets the short end of the stick.

And lastly, you can file a comment with the FCC on the issue. Here's how to do it. Go to the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System web site here ->>

On the right hand side of the page you will see a yellow box titled "ECFS Main Links" with several links below it. The second link down is "Submit a Filing". Click on that one. From there you are taken to a second web page where you enter personal information as well as a statement on the FCC filing you are commenting on.

At the top of the page you will see a blank titled "Proceeding". In that blank enter "03-104" and then enter the rest of the information requested. At the bottom of the page is the space where you can enter your comments. For suggestions on what to enter please go to the following web site -

If everyone does just these few things I think we stand a good chance of coming out of this with our spectrum unmolested. I hate to think what would happen otherwise.

K7AAB 2004-10-27
Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
I just cannot beleive this thread has not received more comments. I was a Republican but I had to think hard this voting year, all the talk about protecting our homeland security and the government is pushing a faster internet connection over interference of HF networks, ALE, NTSC, military, civilian safety. I cannot beleive for the likes that so many sit idly by and due nothing hoping this will somehow go away. Enron got away with murder basically and went a long way until their funds ran out to buy the politicians off. Energy companies make big money on the east coast by gorging the pockets of people that need electricity.One reason we need government controls on the power industry, they have power by providing power. This shows that they are abusing their power by buying off Chairman Powell and other politicians to protect the BPL by changing laws meant to protect us from this. Anyone ever cared to listen t o Powell last week make a statement to the powerline industry that amateur radio will step back or suffer the consequences? What is with the FCC not taking action against BPL interference?? Where is our homeland security without HF? I think these are the issues that one should ask this election.There is only one way to oust a Chairman... thats through your votes.
W2CO 2003-08-21
RE: Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
Here you go, the NTIA is about to take some important steps as far as measuring interference levels from BPL.
This along with the ARRL's findings will be greatly needed proof that this technology is not very well engineered. read on....

NEWINGTON, CT, Aug 19, 2003--The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has weighed in on the FCC's Broadband over Power Line (BPL) initiative. While urging the FCC to "move forward expeditiously" with its inquiry into BPL, the NTIA expressed "broad concerns" about interference to government users. The NTIA also has launched an extensive modeling, analysis and measurement program for BPL. A Commerce Department branch, NTIA is the president's principal advisor on domestic and international telecommunications policy. It also administers spectrum allocated to federal government users.

"Notwithstanding BPL's potential benefits, the Commission must ensure that other communications services, especially government operations, are adequately protected from unacceptable interference," the NTIA said in late-filed comments in the BPL Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in ET 03-104. "In tailoring its rules to promote BPL deployment, the Commission must be certain to provide all communications stakeholders with adequate protections against BPL emissions that may cause unacceptable radio frequency interference."

A form of power line carrier (PLC) technology, BPL would use existing low and medium-voltage power lines to deliver broadband services to homes and businesses. Because it uses frequencies between 2 and 80 MHz, BPL could affect HF and low-VHF amateur allocations wherever it's deployed. BPL proponents--primarily electric power utilities--already are testing BPL systems in several markets, and one is said to be already offering the service. FCC rules already allow BPL, although industry proponents want the FCC to relax radiation limits.

ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, has called BPL "the most crucial issue facing Amateur Radio and the one that has the most devastating potential." ARRL Laboratory personnel already have visited several communities where BPL field testing is under way and documented the potential for extensive interference on HF frequencies in all field trial communities visited.

In its comments, the NTIA indicated its apprehension regarding "radiated emission limits and other measures" that may be needed to protect the more than 18,000 HF and low-VHF federal government frequency assignments that BPL could affect.

Until releasing its comments this month, the NTIA has been largely silent on the issue since last spring. In an April 24 letter, then-NTIA administrator Nancy J. Victory applauded the FCC's decision to launch its inquiry into BPL, but called on the Commission to make sure that BPL does not cause harmful interference to other services.

In early July, Frederick R. Wentland, NTIA's associate administrator in the Office of Spectrum Management, told the FCC that the NTIA did not favor Current Technologies LLC's request for a permanent waiver of the field strength limit specified for Class B emissions under FCC Part 15 rules. A Maryland BPL developer, Current Technologies already is field testing and marketing the technology.

Wentland worried that the pole-mounted interfaces and outdoor power lines used for BPL could interfere with public safety communication in the 30 to 50 MHz range. He told FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Chief Edmond J. Thomas that the "unobstructed and ubiquitous nature of this BPL application, and perhaps other aspects of BPL, differs considerably from the situations presently found in typical unintentional radiators" operating under Part 15. Wentland also expressed concerns regarding compliance measurement techniques for BPL and the characterization of BPL emissions for use in compatibility studies.

NTIA's technical studies will include detailed measurements and analyses to "help determine the least constraining BPL emission limits that would preclude unacceptable interference," Wentland told Thomas. Wentland, who has been named to succeed Victory as NTIA administrator on an interim basis, also invited the FCC to coordinate its own BPL measurement activities with those of the NTIA.

In an attachment to its comments, NTIA summarized its measurement plan, which, among other things, will take ambient noise measurements and also "quantify unknown aspects of BPL signals" at several BPL test sites. The plan noted that as a result of nonlinear elements in the electrical power distribution system, "BPL systems may radiate emissions at frequencies substantially higher than the frequencies actually used intentionally within the BPL system."

The NTIA's Institute of Telecommunication Science is carrying out the measurement program over a two-week period, coordinating its efforts with BPL network administrators. The data will be folded into the NTIA's BPL modeling and analysis initiative.

The NTIA said the results of its research will yield recommendations on radiated emission limits and other operational restrictions for BPL that are "necessary to preclude unacceptable interference to federal government systems." The agency said it planned to conclude its research by year's end.

A copy of the NTIA's comments--which had not been posted on the FCC Web site as of August 19--is available on the NTIA Web site.

The FCC extended the reply comment deadline in the BPL proceeding to August 20, and the ARRL plans to file reply comments.

The League's initial 120-page package of comments and technical exhibits is available on the ARRL Web site. There's additional information and additional video clips on the ARRL "Power Line Communications (PLC) and Amateur Radio" page.

To support the League's efforts in this area, visit the ARRL's secure BPL Web site.

KK2QQ 2003-08-15
Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
Hey all:

I admit I had been standing on the sidelines for BPL (although I did
contribute a decent amount of money to the ARRL Spectrum Defense
Fund), however, it wasn't until I saw the ARRL's Video depicting the
actual interference that BPL generates that really made my blood boil
and got me to file my comments to the FCC.

Here is a link to the shocking video (PLEASE WATCH IT):

Here is an EASY link to let you file your comments about BPL:

Tick the top Docket: BPL 03-014
Then Click the Continue Button at the bottom of the page.
Then fill in the form with your comments and hit submit.

If BPL really goes through, I'll be putting almost all of my Ham
Equipment up for Sale -- although it'll probably be worthless except
for scrap metal and silicon.
W6DLF 2003-08-15
Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
Here are some interesting thoughts on the arrl site about interference TO BPL from hams:

Interference to PLC systems from Amateur Radio Operation

From a post to the discussion forum by Ed Hare, W1RFI

Interference is a two-way street, and PLC systems are at significant risk from amateur HF operation. In the US, amateurs are limited to 1500 watts PEP RF output, but there is no limit to the antenna gain. As a practical matter, few amateur antennas exceed 13 dBi on HF. This means, however, that the EIRP from amateur stations can exceed 20,000 watts. These stations can have antennas that are as close as about 10 meters or so the the electrical distribution systems.

Here is an estimate of the interference potential of a more modest HF station on 7.15 MHz:

Those unshielded overhead power lines are not great antennas, but they can and will pick up our signals. Here is a quick calculation:

Transmit power: +26 dBW (400 watts)
Transmit frequency: 7.15 MHz
Distance between antenna and power line: 20 meters
Path loss: -15.6 dB
Transmit antenna gain (with ground reflection): 6 dBi
Power-line antenna gain: -10 dBi (estimate)
Power picked up on power line:
+26 dBW
-15.6 dB
+6 dBi
-10 dBi
+6.4 dBW (4.4 watts)

The total power of their signal inside the line is going to be about 10 milliwatts, and when we transmit, PLC wiring may pick up 4 watts of our power right inside the frequencies PLC is using. It is unlikely that PLC systems will continue to function in the presence of these signal levels.

W2CO 2003-08-13
RE: Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
My previous statement was aimed at KD6NXI.
Must be a no code lid.
W2CO 2003-08-13
RE: Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
Are you a real ham? Only a bithead would make a statement like that. For your information VHF will have the second/third harmonics of this idiot technology in a big way. And with signal strengths of s9 to s9+30db on 14MHZ, the VHF band will have at least s5-s7 noise level increase as well being the second/third harmonics are relatively strong. But I can tell you don't operate HF so you wouldn't know what this means anyway. Just the bypass devices they want to put on every pole transformer will also enable every part 15 device in use today to also become a wide area radiator as the bypass devices must be "two way" pass. The error rate of the BPL system will be constantly degraded due to Solar disturbances, HF/VHF transmissions (CB too), electric motors, static crashes, lightning, user load, etc. etc. the list goes on and on. So the speed of BPL in the average neighborhood will probably be much less than that of a Cable Modem. Don't let these money hungry idiots tell you it will be a MB/s that's pure nonsense! Th HF band (2-30MHZ) also has the very special ionospheric propagation which will skip the noises to other countries, especially with the increased power levels they propose, and with random addition of all the very long/lossy antenna wires all over the country. On another note, I have worked on "home plug" design in the past and it has become very evident that it and BPL do not operate very well with any EMI/UPS filtering equipment. As a matter of fact the home plug signal was completely wiped out from just a standard EMI power strip. So you will not be able to have any UPS equipment that has EMI filtering of any kind>99% of them do. I want my UPS on my computer equipment because of lightning storms etc...Another thing is any garage door openers that use HF (27-49MHZ) remotes will no longer work or will be greatly degraded with random opening of the door, and not to mention not opening at all when commanded. These are just a few things to consider before you say Pro BPL. The history of the HF bands and it's licensed users/services are just too valuable to trash just for some network company's dollar gains. Besides anyone who is already on DSL, Cable Modem, Satellite etc., probably won't subscribe to it anyway. It's the so called "remote" users who want it, but I don't think the network/power companies will even deploy it there for a while. It won't be "cost effective". The answer to the "last mile" is to go fiber optic cable. Why it is already mostly installed, just the "last mile" to the buildings needs to be finished. Why don't they just complete that? It would be far greater bandwidth than Cable and would be RF immune incoming and outgoing.
AK4P 2003-08-12
Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
My view: BPL represents government fraud, waste, and abuse at the highest levels of government. It is a fraud, becuse it is being passed off as "innovative new technology", when in reality it is a misuse of technology. It is waste, because it will destroy a useful and strategic natural resource, the HF electromagnetic spectrum, by rendering it useless. And it is abuse, because the FCC has stated that if BPL induced interference is over the limits imposed in Part 15 of the Commission's rules, that they'll simply re-write Part 15. Now, if that's not a good example government corruption, I can't think of a better one. Write your congressman!
AI6PC 2003-08-08
Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
I think that the amateur ranks have been decimated by a group of extremely non-technical individuals. It seems that no one realizes that the interference probability is in the extreme for ALL bands. Right now it takes the F.C.C. or P.U.C. to help get the power company to fix arcing on their lines which causes interference well up into the VHF and sometimes UHF range. I have an extreme reaction to people who don't know anything about communications crying about there dial up speed. I guess that these supposedly intelligent people have never heard of satellite broadband connections via the many digital satellite TV companies. Please! Remember to think before you say something.
KB3GVC 2003-08-07
Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
See;act=ST;f=7;t=36461 for more information on the subject.

Everyone, pick a comment filed by a Communications company in the URL I gave, and file a "Reply To Comment", not a comment. The deadline for comments has passed, but "Reply to Comments" are still accepted until August 20th

KD6NXI 2003-08-05
Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
As someone who has had to contend with dialup for about 7 years and lives where DSL and cable doesn't reach I want them to roll out broadband over the power lines as soon as possible. The computer world is going nuts over this because it will finally mean EVERYONE could get broadband if they want it. So, you contrast millions of computer users in the US against about 800,000 hams and you have some idea of who will win. Frankly I don't think it will cause that much interference. And if it does? Well,, move to VHF.
K1CJS 2003-08-03
Broadband Over Powerline - Call to Arms
What is whong with this picture? Articles like this that should have the attention of all hams are ignored while the debate over CW has all the attention. Are we so dumb to not recognize that BPL has a heck of a lot more potential to harm the HF bands than the admission of a group of people who don't see the need for CW in this day and age? It seems the majority of us are.


Those of us who can't see that just because we want code kept as a "filter" (hah!) are the people who will be the direct cause of the demise of amateur HF operation. Its time we woke up to this threat. After all, we're all hams--not real hams, or false hams, or no-code hams, etc. etc., but HAMS! We should start to act that way.