Cedar Rapids BPL makes Slashdot

Frank Gentges fgentges at mindspring.com
Wed Jun 30 08:24:08 CDT 2004

The Cedar Rapids BPL shutdown made Slashdot.  See


A fellow in India really zeros in on BPL.  India seems to be providing 
broadband without all the regulations. Why can't we get this kind of 
broadband support here in the USA?  Instead, we are getting this really 
strange option that uses the power lines.

I have copied his comments below.

Frank K0BRA


Sending data over power cables is the first thing that strikes us when 
we think of broad-band. As someone involved with broad-band initiatives 
in india, as a veteran slashdotter and as an ex-ham, i think this needs 
a few pieces of missing information.

Why power lines? because they are there. More importantly, because you 
cannot touch any other copper lines (like ma'bell) nor lay them afresh 
without being billg hisself. now guess who demands this money? the very FCC!

It is often a cheaper and a simpler solution to just run a shielded 
cable. In India, where such zoning and municipal laws are lax, I have a 
100 mbps ethernet drop into my home office. The electic poles are tapped 
for feeding the hubs on the way as well as providing the physical 
support for the cable high above the reach of straying cows, buffalos, 
kids on bikes and cable thieves.

The cable operators pay the electricity folks a fixed low per-pole 
charge. In the case of BPL, i think it is more of FCC trying to save the 
phone companies than creating a new last mile solution.
Why can't we lay more cable in anycase? it is a cheaper option.

The point often missed about HF is that like ozone layer, it really 
affects the entire world. I have a 5 watt transceiver that regularly 
goes around the world (www.phonestack.com/farhan) using just a 10 meter 
stretch of wire for an antenna. the noise that BPL will generate can 
easily disrupt global HF communications that form the backbone for many 
countries even today. Imagine the interference BPL would create by 
contributing megawatts of power radiating over millions of miles of 
wires all over the country.

blaming amateurs is really a shame. especially at slashdot. from the 
early open source tcp/ip (the KA9Q) to Alan cox. Amateurs have 
frontlined development of Internet. the very idea of personal science 
(as something that individuals pursue for pure satisfaction) that 
propels towards free and open softwares finds its foundations in amateur 

Amateur radio is really the only open source communication technology. 
Everywhere else, you still pay per use. It is also the classic peer to 
peer technology, it requires no 'service providers' at all just you and 
a couple of transistors connected to a clothline. The entire 
communication stack (read morse code decoder) is in your head. how's 
that for a setup?

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