The article below is from Telecommunications Reports Daily 9/14/04
While the NTIA quote is disturbing, it should be noted that the Naval
Research Lab (NRL), NASA and others are now performing separate
investigations on the impact of BPL on their systems. NRL has been
talking up their issues to other agencies and countries (Norway, fro
example), is planning to test in Manassas next week and have been offered
a BPL system to test with a North Dakota power company, and seems
seriously concerned, as are a larger number of federal agencies as time
moves on. Looks like momentum is growing against BPL as agencies are
realzing they are using HF more and more, both for traditional
communications and in the "war on terrorism" signal monitoring.
STATE COMMISSIONERS SUPPORT LIGHT REGULATION FOR BPL SERVICE
Several state utility regulators today backed a light regulatory approach
for broadband-over-power line (BPL) service offered by electric utilities
but emphasized that they needed more information about how the nascent
technology might affect electric grid security, reliability, and
Speaking at the United Power Line Council's "Broadband Power Line"
conference in Arlington, Va., this morning, Connie Hughes, a commissioner
on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, said it was essential that
regulators get hands-on demonstrations of BPL technology. Ms. Hughes is
on the BPL Task Force of the National Association of Regulatory Utility
State regulators don't want electric companies to subsidize BPL offerings
with revenues from their electric utility operations, said Michigan
Public Service Commissioner Robert Nelson, who chairs NARUC's
New York Public Service Commissioner Thomas Dunleavy assured electric
utility companies, "It is not our objective to impose any unnecessary
regulation on anyone." He added, "We need to find a way to provide
certainty" with regard to regulation so as not to discourage investment."
With regard to cross-subsidization issues, both Mr. Nelson and Ms. Hughes
said they thought state regulators would be open to splitting the costs
of BPL deployment between electric utility ratepayers - who could expect
some security and reliability benefits from the distribution management
applications of BPL - and the new retail BPL offering.
Michael McGrath, executive director-retail energy at the Edison Electric
Institute, said the electric utility industry believes its members should
not be required to provide network access to unaffiliated BPL providers.
He predicted that local jurisdictions would want to raise right-of-way
(ROW) access fees for electric utilities, on the grounds that BPL
offerings increase the value of ROWs. He argued, however, that such a
move would be unfair to electric utility customers who don't subscribe to
BPL service, since they would also bear the increased cost.
As for allegations that BPL poses a risk of interference with amateur
radio operations, Alan Richenbacher, chief network architect at PPL
Telcom, said his company had deployed BPL to 16,000 homes and received
only four interference complaints. "It's not a big secret. We're
deploying BPL where people live and amateur radio operators are people,"
he said. There are amateur radio antennas in the area where the company
is deploying BPL technology, he added, "and they sure as heck know we're
there, because we send them postcards all the time" advertising the
service, so if they were experiencing interference, they would know where
The FCC has a pending proceeding in Engineering and Technology dockets
03-104 and 4-37 in which it is developing guidelines for measuring the
electromagnetic field strengths of BPL systems. Thomas Sullivan, chief
of the Spectrum Engineering Branch at the National Telecommunications &
Information Administration, which represents the interests of federal
government spectrum users, said NTIA was trying to protect certain users,
such as air traffic base stations, where the consequences of interference
could be serious enough that efforts should be made to prevent
interference before it occurs. However, "for the vast majority of
federal users, it's OK to run the risk" of waiting until interference
actually occurs and then correcting it, he said.
"Dynamic notching" - avoiding frequencies in which BPL systems detect
"noise" that could indicate amateur radio operations - is an available
technology that could reduce friction between BPL providers and the
amateur radio community, Mr. Richenbacher acknowledged. "But if you look
at the [frequency] signature of non-BPL power lines, it's anything but
clean," he said, citing spikes up to 40 decibels above background noise.
"Some of it is generated by the power line; some of it is received by
the power line. If I go with dynamic notching, I might not have any
[frequency for] BPL left. How do I tell what's coming from a licensed
user and what's coming from a hair dryer?"
- Lynn Stanton, firstname.lastname@example.org
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