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Re: [RFI] BPL news today's WSJ

To: rfi@contesting.com
Subject: Re: [RFI] BPL news today's WSJ
From: Eric Rosenberg <wd3q@starpower.net>
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 10:16:02 -0500
List-post: <mailto:rfi@contesting.com>
Two weeks ago, the Nemours Hospital ("the Mayo Clinic for Pediatrics") and JEA (formerly the Jacksonville Electric Authority, now including the water utility in addition to being the electricity provider) made a presentation of their BPL implementation at NTIA here in Washington, DC. NTIA funded this small pilot project, which uses BPL as the communications technology for the Nemours staff to monitor pediatric asthma patients in their home.

The program itself is quite impressive in its scope, simplicity and success. The hospital is to be commended for the work they are doing. See http://www.nemours.org/internet?url=no/news/releases/2005/050325_home_monitoring_broadband.html

Also to be commended is the JEA, who took the right approach in their BPL implementation. The JEA has an extensive and very robust fiber network that ties their substations together. The BPL system uses BPL as the home-to-substation link, after which it ties into the fiber network for distribution to the hospital.

During the Q&A I asked the JEA program manager a couple of questions: how extensively had they researched the BPL vendors; what criteria did they used to award the contract; and how they saw saw BPL in the market place.

The answers were quite good. JEA looked long and hard at all the BPL vendors and chose Current (the same as those who are going into Dallas). Their basic criteria was to identify a BPL provider who had a solid financial standing, a product that worked and worked well, and a strong customer support mechanism. Understanding that the JEA program manager is not in the marketing department, the comments on why the JEA opted for BPL had a different slant. The potential revenues for JEA from a commercial BPL service are relatively small, considering the cheap competition. JEA is interested in BPL for their own system management purposes, and found that it is significantly less expensive to implement and operate than their present wireless system, which, if I remember correctly, is a combination of CDPD and other LMR/Cellular systems. With BPL, they can read meters and manage their systems far more easily and efficiently.

What was most impressive is that before they began to look at vendors, they went to the amateur radio and public safety community to understand the issues of those communities and integrate their issues into their criteria for awarding the equipment and system contract. They impressed me as a being a smart business that did not like surprises!

What was most interesting to me is that is that the comments regarding their outreach were made as part of the presentation, and not as a result of questions (there are only three other hams at NTIA, one of whom was at this briefing).

In the end, I was impressed. As I've said, both sides of the project are commendable -- medical and technical. It proved to me that if the system operator is responsible and designs their system properly, and holds the vendor to a high standard, BPL and amateur radio can co-exist.

Eric W3DQ
Washington, DC

At 07:14 PM 12/20/2005 -0500, you wrote:

Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 17:15:54 +0000
From: "Rob Atkinson, K5UJ" <k5uj@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [RFI] BPL news today's WSJ
To: jvpoll@dallas.net, rfi@contesting.com
Message-ID: <BAY101-F36CBBFB711F3AC178724BB8E3E0@phx.gbl>
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed

The Journal story said that in Texas, state regulatory laws have been passed
enabling utilities to spin off companies that can attract investors and
raise capital to finance ventures without using revenue from power
customers. Other states have not yet done this.

Separately, on an eHam forum for this news item, Ed Hare wrote that this
particular BPL deployment is designed to have minimal RFI with ham radio.
It is the 30 to 50 MHz type, which the Journal did not mention, so may not
be the alarming thing that it first appeared to be.

rob / k5uj

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