Manager - AB7RG
Manager Notes

Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Viable Alternative' to Cable, D

Created by The ARRL Letter, Vol 23, No 49 on 2004-12-17

Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Viable Alternative' to Cable, DSL:

Officials of Internet service provider EarthLink told the FCC that broadband over power line (BPL) cannot compete with the dominant cable or DSL technology today or in the near future. A BPL industry spokesperson subsequently criticized the ARRL apparently for reporting the company's statements. EarthLink President and CEO Garry Betty and other company officials met November 16 with FCC Chairman Michael Powell and Commission attorney Aaron Goldberger to deliver an ex parte presentation on several Wireline Competition Bureau and Common Carrier Bureau proceedings.

"EarthLink discussed that it has invested in and is in trials with several potential 'third wire' broadband transmission paths to the home, including WiFi, WiMax, MMDS and broadband over power lines," EarthLink Counsel Mark J. O'Connor informed FCC Secretary Marlene Dortch in a November 17 letter. "However, EarthLink pointed out that cable and DSL still account for virtually all consumer broadband connections and that none of these alternative technologies offer a commercially viable alternative today or in the near future."

An EarthLink analysis indicated that BPL is the most expensive of the broadband technologies it evaluated. In a chart titled "Next generation broadband," EarthLink said that wireless and BPL "are not likely to be competitive in cost and performance with cable and DSL over the last mile to the home."

EarthLink judged as "not successful" one unspecified BPL technical trial using Amperion equipment in a "wireless/BPL combo." In discussing other trials using Ambient and Current Technologies equipment--in one of which EarthLink had invested--the ISP's assessment was that the high cost per household passed--$125 in both instances--would require a better than 15 percent market penetration to attain a competitive cost.

EarthLink said its assessment determined that ADSL2+ technology is the "best option" and can offer VoIP as well as high-speed broadband (at 6 to 10 Mbps) and video over copper wire and using on-premise consumer equipment. The company also indicated that it plans to invest in ADSL2+ technology. The company's ex parte submission is available on the FCC Web site

ARRL's reporting of EarthLink's submission to the FCC apparently struck a nerve at Ambient, with which EarthLink has a business relationship. In a classic case of shooting the messenger, Ambient CEO John J. Joyce took the League to task on behalf of the BPL industry in a statement posted via Market Wire on the CBS Web site Link. Joyce seemed to suggest that the League itself had provided the EarthLink information and was spinning the company's remarks to advantage.

"The release by the ARRL clearly takes the statements of EarthLink's attorney out of context and conveniently ignores many developments in the industry that contradict ARRL's conclusions," Joyce said, adding that 2005 promises to be "the year of BPL."

Among other things, Joyce said that "the ARRL perception of BPL's economics fails to consider that consumer broadband is only one application for a BPL-enabled utility system." he said there are other industrial applications that may augur in BPL's economic favor. He also emphasized that the projects with which his company and EarthLink have collaborated were demonstrations "never intended to be competitive installations" and are "in no way representative of BPL economics."

ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, said the League stands by its account, which Joyce characterized as a "claim" on the ARRL's part. "ARRL's report on the document was accurate in every way, and we stand by our report," he said. "The conclusions given are not ours, but EarthLink's. Anyone who wishes to do so can read the submission for themselves."


The ARRL Letter Vol. 23, No. 49 December 17, 2004

KA0JW 2005-01-01
Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Viable
Hello everyone,
I work for an electric utility and I can tell you that there is a big interest in BPL. Some people in my industry see this as a "cash cow" just waiting to be tapped into. I'm very glad to see a major ISP deciding not to use BPL, hopefully this will cause some other ISP's and electric utilities to take a closer look at BPL as an internet connection source.

Thanks Earthlink !! 73s, Jeff KA0ZYD
K1IO 2004-12-29
RE: Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Vi
Earthlink has done a good job in filing against BPL, but don't expect WiMax to be a panacaea.

The press repeats three things about WiMax that its advocates, like Intel, like to brag about:

- Up to 70 Mbps
- Up to 30 miles
- No license required

They forget to mention PICK ONE!

The Part 15 limits still apply. WiMax is a standard for mass-produced OFDM microwave chipsets, basically. With a license, the range and/or speed are greater -- but there are few licenses, and the microwave spectrum is nowadays auctioned to the highest bidder.

BPL fails for many reasons. For one thing, it is not a common carrier, so the electric company will BE the ISP or will CHOOSE the sole ISP on its system, doing nothing for existing ISPs. Earthlink gets that. BPL advocates like to badmouth ham radio as obsolete, but they are essentially stealing a lot of spectrum without paying for it. It's a charade by Powell to create a phoney competitor to cover his tracks in killing off ISPs and CLECs (see WC Docket 04-405, for instance).
N9XCR 2004-12-27
Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Viable
Great job, Earthlink! They're my ISP for my cable connection. I have no complaints and now my satisfaction rating is at 200%! :)

Have fun!
K2YWE 2004-12-26
Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Viable
It is not surprising. I wrote a letter about a year ago to one of my Senators (no help) that pointed out the commercial foolishness of BPL. Technical issues aside, the power companies have nothing to bundle with the service to make it attractive. No content. All they have is a connection (if it works). If they team with an ISP, they have no value added of their own. They will be killed by the cable companies and telcos.
I'll refrain from comments about the FCC and Michael Powell. I can't afford to elevate my blood pressure.
WIRELESS 2004-12-26
Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Viable
Earthlink is trying to protect its position while providing pathetic internet service. Earthlink service has deteriorated badly in the last 2 years because its trying to make its dial up profitable. The speed of their network has gone done to 1/2 its former. The arrl is aligning itself with a looser business.
KG6AMW 2004-12-24
Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Viable
BPL is a marginal concept that was going to fail at some point anyway. Ultimately it ends up being a test of business acumen for utilities and municipalities. Those that get it and take a pass early conserve capital for more viable projects. Give Earthlink an A.

W9WHE-II 2004-12-22
RE: Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Vi
Let us hope that they are right and BPL collapses under its own weight. Pity we don't have an EFFECTIVE PAC that could have gotten tighter standards, pre-testing & better control under Part 15.

N7VI 2004-12-20
RE: EARTHLINK Says BPL Not 'Commercially Viable'
Interesting article :
EARTHLINK Says BPL Not 'Commercially Viable'
Makes me proud to have chosen EARTHLINK as my ISP.


Don Schellhardt

PS. Now if HOTMAIL makes a similar statement, I'll be 2 for 2.
N7UQA 2004-12-18
RE: Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Vi
Stop the presses! "ISP actually get it!" It's refreshing to see an major ISP tell the FCC that BPL isn't the godsend they keep making it out to be. My complements to Earthlink for having the foresight and the nads to tell the FCC this. I'm sure the marketdroids at Amperion will continue to spin their disinformation about this bad technology.

Craig - N7UQA
N7VI 2004-12-18
RE: Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Vi
Cheer up fellow HAMs (and SWLs/CBers). BPL has no
realistic way of competing against Wi-MAX technology
for the so called "last mile" data connectivity.
Wi-MAX is just around the corner (late 2005 and 2006)
and has a radius of 30 miles and is poised to change
several things in the fields of : entertainment,
commercial radio, cell phones and of course as
a very cost-effective and much better bandwidth
(not to mention no RFI) technology alternative to
even cable/DSL (let alone "poor BPL") !

Wi-MAX could be our friend which competes against
BPL on purely technical merit and cost feasibility

So, cheers and 73s,
K4RAF 2004-12-18
Major ISP Tells FCC BPL Not a 'Commercially Viable
The only alternatives are 802.11, 802.16 & 802.2

The quicker we get behind them, the quicker that BPL will fall from the balance sheet.

You can read about them at