I've been thinking about this one for awhile.
There are several possible objectives for an interaction with your
congressman; but they boil down to two basic ones:
1. help him understand that BPL will interfere with your hobby unless it
obeys the RFI rules, and ask for his help in ensuring that the FCC enforces
2. help him understand that the government's decision to accelerate
broadband connectivity by encouraging BPL deployment is well-intentioned but
wrong-headed, and ask him to help spread the word among his colleagues in
support of a better policy
Justified though it may be, #1 paints you as another citizen out to protect
his personal interests. This leaves you open to a "greater good"
counterargument; when your congressman engages with the FCC or other BPL
advocates, he could easily be persuaded that ham radio is one more
anachronistic pursuit whose small group of noisy adherents can't be allowed
to slow progress that would greatly benefit the larger population. Pointing
out that BPL will also interfere with communications required for public
safety won't help, given the NTIA's position; you'll still be painted with
the "self-interest" brush.
#2 requires that you expose the big lie behind BPL -- that it can transport
high-speed data to subscriber homes through existing wiring. If you dispense
with the jargon, you can help a non-technical person understand that the
power network includes components that attenuate or block high-frequency
signals, that deploying the amplifiers and other gear required to circumvent
these blockages costs time and money, and that this is least economical
where its most needed: in rural areas. By pointing out that far better
technologies (like WiMax) will soon be available, the discussion changes
from "we shouldn't do X" to "instead of X, lets do Y".
Be prepared for a question like "aren't you a ham defending your hobby"? My
answer to this is a truthful "Yes, that's how I first became aware of BPL.
But after learning more about it, I came to see that BPL's flaws are much
more fundamental than its generation of radio frequency interference. And
you'll note that broadband connectivity solution I'm recommending uses radio
to transport high-frequency data".
If you've been following the recent discussion here, you're already prepared
to handle "but won't BPL also lower electricity rates?"
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On
Behalf Of Rick Karlquist
Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 2004 4:26 PM
Subject: [RFI] Phone call from congressman's office re: BPL
Some months ago, I fired off an anti-BPL letter to my congressman. Today, I
got a call from one of his staffers asking what the congressman can do to
help (given that there is no bill to vote for). I am thinking that I should
ask that the congressman write a letter to the FCC. I have seen other such
letters posted here. I am looking for suggestions as to what I should ask
the congressman to say to the FCC and who he should write to there. So far,
I have thought of asking to have BPL RFI complaints acted upon, instead of
shunted to another department. I was also thinking of bringing up the
recent complaint that was acted upon unsatisfactorily, as detailed on the
ARRL web site. I am also wondering if it appropriate to suggest that he
recommend that the FCC de-emphasize BPL and instead push Wi-Fi/Wi-Max.
Any help for this political novice would be appreciated.
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