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[RFI] BPL alternatives

To: <rfi@contesting.com>
Subject: [RFI] BPL alternatives
From: k5uj at hotmail.com (Rob Atkinson, K5UJ)
Date: Sat Aug 16 13:05:02 2003
At the risk of being the downer, I want to point out that I think BPL won't 
go away easily even if ARRL et al. win this one.  That may have happened in 
highly regulated areas like JA and Eu, but the U.S. is the land of the free 
market where people like Bill Gates are in charge and are highly motivated 
by profits and shareholders.  This isn't an attack on that, it's simply a 
statement that this is a fact to be recognized and dealt with.  If a utility 
has half a million customers and 20% of them become BPL subscribers for 
$20/month, that's I think $2 million/month and $24 million/year revenue.  
After the equipment is installed, it's pretty much all gravy rolling in.  
The businessmen in charge of power companies are not the kind of people who 
will walk away from that.  They'll regard an unfavorable decision by FCC (if 
that even happens) as a loss of round one.  They may take the whole matter 
to the public.  "We want to deliver 21st century communications but look 
who's stopping us:"  (Then show a photo of two OTs operating straight keys.) 
  They might record a 75 m. qso between two um, rustic gentlemen.  "The FCC 
has decided this use of spectrum is more important than your internet 
access:" (hit play button) "Yuh Claude, ifa thatad been mah wahf ah'da 
slahpped huh, yew bet..."
Unfortunately, spectrum grabs are coming more often and from bigger 
interests. Hams can no longer afford to be silent retiring types, which has 
been our nature in the past because most of us are the kind of people who 
get up, go work a job, come home, pay taxes, vote and shut up. 
Unfortunately, we live in a day when activism is needed to get results.  Not 
the obnoxious type of activism involving blocking traffic and demonstrating. 
  Those are people who are just interested in being a nusance.  What we need 
is for the ARRL to become more like a PAC.  At least two things need to be 
done:  1.  organized communication from hams to decision makers (which I 
mentioned earlier) and 2.  Influential public relations work through the 
media in advance of whatever the power industry attempts to do.

Rob Atkinson

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