IEEE to Form Balloting Group on BPL EMC Standard
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has been developing standards for Broadband over Power Line (BPL) use and deployment. According to ARRL Lab Manager and IEEE member Ed Hare, W1RFI, there are three IEEE standards in progress at this time. The first, P1675, covers installation and safety practices and should be published soon. The second, P1901, is focused mostly on BPL protocols and interoperability between various BPL systems. ARRL has no direct interest in either of these standards. The third standard -- P1775 -- covers the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) aspects of BPL emissions testing and the immunity of BPL systems. Hare, as a member of the IEEE's P1775 BPL EMC Standards Working Group, has participated in the development of this standard from the very first meeting held in Denver, Colorado in 2004.
"The IEEE Working Group developing the standard is heavily dominated by the BPL industry and its electric-utility and EMC testing partners," Hare noted. "The ARRL was the only radiocommunications stakeholder that regularly attended meetings. Although I did make a number of contributions to the standard that were included, most of the major points I made about what was needed in an EMC standard to achieve compatibility with licensed radio services were voted down by the Working Group. The end result does not offer any real protection to Amateur Radio, despite progress made in the industry in that direction elsewhere."
Hare said that the major problem with the emissions testing part of this standard is that it offers little more than a parroting of the FCC rules on how to make measurements: "The test methods in this standard are overly complex and incomplete at the same time. By strongly parroting the FCC rules, the standard is promoting regulations that do not serve well to provide good test methods that enable BPL while protecting licensed services." Hare said that the risk to having an international industry standard that relies heavily on FCC regulations will increase the likelihood that these regulations will be adopted by other countries. Hare has prepared a report that outlines other problems he sees in the present draft of the standard.
The IEEE has announced that the P1775 standard is ready for ballot. Hare explained that the balloting process is not only a vote, but it is part of the process to develop standards. "Stakeholders that cannot attend the meetings that develop these standards can join the balloting pool," Hare said. "The IEEE requires that 75 percent of the balloting pool vote to approve the standard. Even if it passes, the IEEE requires that an attempt be made to resolve all negative ballots. The ballot is not as much a vote as it is an important part of ensuring that all interests are represented in an IEEE standard."
ARRL encourages those with a radio interest to join the IEEE balloting pool prior to February 22, 2009. Many amateurs are IEEE members; if they are also members of the IEEE Standards Association, they are able to ballot on IEEE standards at no cost. Hare reiterated that the ARRL is not opposed to the development of BPL standards, but the best standards include the interests of all stakeholders. "There are a lot of good parts of this standard," Hare explained, "but it is lacking in areas that would make it a useful tool with good test methods and practices that offer significant protection to licensed radio services. Joining the balloting pool is the best way that amateurs can help develop a more useful and inclusive standard."