ARRL General Bulletin ARLB005 (2004)

ARLB005 FCC okays BPL proposal

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 5  ARLB005
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  February 12, 2004
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB005 FCC okays BPL proposal

The FCC has unanimously approved a Notice of Proposed Rule Making
(NPRM) to deploy Broadband over Power Line (BPL). The NPRM is the
next step in the BPL proceeding, which began last April with a
Notice of Inquiry that attracted more than 5100 comments--many from
the amateur community. The FCC did not propose any changes in Part
15 rules governing unlicensed devices, but said it would require BPL
providers to apply ''adaptive'' interference mitigation techniques
to their systems. An ARRL delegation that included President Jim
Haynie, W5JBP, attended the FCC open meeting in Washington, and
later expressed disappointment in the FCC action.

''The Commission clearly recognized that the existing Part 15
emission limits are inadequate to stop interference, but it's
placing the burden of interference mitigation on the licensed user
that's supposed to be protected,'' said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ.

Sumner said that if the FCC really believed current Part 15 emission
limits were sufficient, it would not have had to require that BPL
providers institute interference mitigation systems. The FCC has not
yet released the actual NPRM, and a presentation by the FCC's Office
of Engineering and Technology (OET) revealed only its broad
outlines. Sumner said the League would not take a formal position
until it reviews the full NPRM.

Anh Wride of the OET staff spelled out the scope of the NPRM, which
only addresses so-called ''access BPL''--the type that would apply
radio frequency energy to exterior overhead and underground low and
medium-voltage power lines to distribute broadband and Internet
service. She said the OET staff believes that interference concerns
''can be adequately addressed.'' Wride said the FCC's BPL NPRM:

* Applies existing Part 15 emission limits for unlicensed
carrier-current systems to BPL systems. Part 15 rules now require
that BPL systems eliminate any harmful interference that may occur
''and must cease operation if they cannot,'' she noted.

* Requires BPL systems to employ ''adaptive interference-mitigation
techniques, including the capabilities to shut down a specific
device, to reduce power levels on a dynamic or remote-control basis
and to include or exclude specific operating frequencies or bands.''

* Subjects BPL providers to notification requirements that would
establish a public database to include such information as the
location of BPL devices, modulation type and operating frequencies.

* Proposes guidelines to provide for consistent and repeatable
measurement of the RF emissions from BPL and other carrier-current

Mirroring his colleagues' enthusiasm, FCC Chairman Michael Powell
called BPL ''tremendously exciting.'' While conceding that BPL has
''a long way to go,'' the chairman said it could be ''the great
broadband hope for a good part of rural America.'' Powell also said
the FCC's OET has worked very hard to try to ''get their hands
around'' the issue of interference and that the FCC would continue
its vigilance in that area.

The FCC is expected to issue the complete Notice of Proposed Rule
Making within a few days and will invite comments on it sometime
after its publication.

Additional information about BPL and Amateur Radio is on the ARRL
Web site,