[RFI] Broadband over Power Line (BPL) radio interference

Dave Bernstein dave.bernstein at comcast.net
Thu Jul 15 16:20:12 EDT 2004

Yes, like many anti-BPL arguments, most of the same points were mentioned --
but with different rationale and emphasis.

If I say "you can't have cheap broadband access because I want to be able to
chat on the radio with my friends in Australia each evening", then I'm
arguing that my self-interest is more important than your self-interest. You
are of course free to disagree, self-interest being entirely subjective. If
enough of a majority decides they prefer cheap broadband access over hams
continuing to do their thing, then the hams will lose. Actually, all that's
required for hams to lose is the belief by politicians and bureaucrats that
a majority won't strenuously object. 

If I say "BPL has high risk and low value, and here are the facts that
substantiate this argument", then I've moved the argument from the
subjective realm of self-interest to the more objective realm of economics.
Assuming valid facts and clear logic, this undermines support for BPL from
both investors and potential subscribers. In the "BPL generates
interference" arm of this argument, hams are the least important impacted
population because their hobby activities generate little or no economic or
political value. We shouldn't claim that BPL's interference-generation can't
be corrected -- we need only point out that mitigating interference must be
done on a case-by-case basis, which is very expensive and makes deployment
extremely unpredictable. 

The recent situation in Cedar Rapids, where Alliant Power withdrew from the
BPL business because it was unable to rectify an interference problem,
perfectly substantiates this position. We should aggressively seek to
replicate this scenario; this is an area where the ARRL's anti-BPL efforts
have been well-executed and effective, but we need more. Even better would
be BPL shutdowns due to interference to public safety services. No doubt
there are hams working in the communications sections of these services;
have we identified these hams and asked them to be on the lookout for BPL

Power companies have Boards of Directors, and they have investors. Generally
speaking, none of these folks like throwing money down rat holes. Clearly,
that's not what they're being told BPL will do; they mostly hear only one
side of the story. The more we help propagate a clear understanding of the
poor economics behind BPL, the more likely these Board Members and investors
are to hear about it and start asking hard questions. You'd be surprised how
often a magazine article forwarded by one Board Member to several others can
produce a spirited discussion at the next board meeting.

This fight will not be won by converting Powell or any other politician or
bureaucrat; we can't ignore them, or they'll tilt the playing field even
more to BPL's advantage, but our focus must be on helping WiMAX etc. kill
BPL in the marketplace, preferably before BPL gets much of an installed


       Dave, AA6YQ

-----Original Message-----
From: rfi-bounces at contesting.com [mailto:rfi-bounces at contesting.com] On
Behalf Of Rick Karlquist
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2004 3:20 PM
To: aa6yq at ambersoft.com
Cc: rfi at contesting.com
Subject: RE: [RFI] Broadband over Power Line (BPL) radio interference

Dave Bernstein said:

> We'd be unhappy, but none of us would deny the world a cancer cure to 
> preserve HF amateur radio.

Lowering the cost vs speed of internet service is hardly in the same league
with curing cancer.  Remember, anyone can now get dialup for low cost or
broadband for high cost (see www.agristar.com). BPL at best is more bits for
less bucks.  There is no demand for more bits for more bucks.

> 2. it generates electromagnetic interference to a range of critical 
> public safety and aviation services,

I mentioned that in my letter.

> 1. its not "plug and play" -- transformers must be bridged, or 
> pole-mounted WiFi transceivers must be installed to provide 
> connectivity to subscribers; the resultant labor costs and 
> time-to-revenue delays are signficant

Larry mentions that BPL will use WiFi for the last 100 feet
and fiber for everthing but the last mile.  It's only the
"last 5180 feet" where BPL uses power lines.

Attacking BPL on economic grounds isn't going to work either. The proponents
have their own money to throw down the rathole.

> Even more fortunately, there's a better alternative to BPL -- WiMAX. 
> The

Powell's case for BPL is that we need more competition.  WiMAX is yet
another competitor, but Powell's philosophy is the more the merrier. BPL and
WiMAX are not mutually exclusive, anymore than FTTH, which is mentioned in
the article.

Rick N6RK

RFI mailing list
RFI at contesting.com http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/rfi

More information about the RFI mailing list