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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB017 (2007)

ARLB017 ARRL to FCC: Shut Down "Grossly Noncompliant" Ambient BPL Pilot

QST de W1AW  
ARRL Bulletin 17  ARLB017
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  June 1, 2007
To all radio amateurs 

ARLB017 ARRL to FCC: Shut Down "Grossly Noncompliant" Ambient 
BPL Pilot Project

The ARRL has again demanded that the FCC shut down Ambient
Corporation's broadband over power line (BPL) pilot project in
Briarcliff Manor, New York. On May 21 the FCC called on the BPL
equipment maker and system operator to demonstrate it's complying
with all terms of the Part 5 Experimental license authorizing the
system, or face possible enforcement action. In a May 31 letter to
FCC Spectrum Enforcement Division Chief Kathryn S. Berthot, ARRL
General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, contended that it's "long past
time that the Commission enforce its own rules," and again objected
to the Commission's "inexplicable inaction" in the face of evidence
the system is noncompliant. Imlay pointed out that the FCC's May 21
letter made no mention of Condition #1 of Ambient's Part 5
Experimental license.

"That condition requires that if any interference occurs, the holder
of the authorization will be subject to immediate shutdown," Imlay
wrote. "Interference has repeatedly occurred, and it has been
witnessed and verified by a member of the Commission's Enforcement
Bureau staff. Yet no action has been taken whatsoever to terminate
this experimental authorization over a period of more than two and
one-half years. This is inexcusable."

Ambient operates the Briarcliff Manor BPL pilot program under
Experimental license WD2XEQ. ARRL testing as recent as late May
indicated the system is operating outside of the parameters of its
FCC authorization.

The League called the FCC's most recent push to get the company to
comply with the terms of its Experimental license "too little, too
late and an abdication of the Commission's responsibility to protect
its licensees from interference from unlicensed RF devices."

"The Commission's obsessive compulsion to avoid any bad news about
BPL has clearly driven its multi-year inaction," the League
continued. "Had this been any other experimental authorization
dealing with any technology other than BPL, the experimental
authorization would have been terminated long ago." The League's
complaints regarding interference to Amateur Radio communication
from the Briarcliff Manor system date back to October 2003 and
included supportive technical reports and test results.

As it stands, the League maintained, the FCC should have shut down
Ambient's BPL system a long time ago. The ARRL further objected to
Ambient's "repeated misrepresentations in its six-month reports
claiming that its Briarcliff Manor BPL system meets FCC emission

New measurements done May 24 by ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare,
W1RFI, conclusively establish that the Ambient BPL system, in Hare's
words, "continues to operate well above the Part 15 emission limits
that are stipulated as a condition of its Experimental license."
Hare said his latest excursion marked the third time his emissions
testing in Briarcliff Manor showed the system to be operating
significantly above Part 15 emissions limits.

"The spectral masks in this system intended to protect some radio
services from interference work poorly enough in this generation-1
equipment, but when the system is operated at excessive levels,
strong interference is an inevitable outcome," he commented. "By
operating this system above the Part 15 emissions limits, Ambient is
making it impossible for any electric utility to use results from
this experiment to reach any conclusions about the technical and
commercial viability of BPL."

The ARRL further argued that the Ambient BPL system should not be
permitted to continue operating under the radar with an Experimental
license instead of under the FCC's Part 15 BPL rules, adopted in
2004. The Briarcliff Manor system does not even appear in the FCC's
BPL database, the League noted.

"Causing Ambient to operate in accordance with the BPL rules rather
than allowing it to hide behind its experimental authorization would
at least be consistent with the Commission's regulatory plan for
BPL, however inadequate that plan is in terms of interference
avoidance," Imlay's letter concluded.


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