Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at
Sat Feb 12 09:00:54 CST 2005


The ARRL has petitioned the FCC to take its broadband over power line (BPL)
Report and Order (R&O) back to the drawing board. In a Petition for
Reconsideration filed February 7, the League called on the Commission to
"reconsider, rescind and restudy" its October 14, 2004, adoption of new Part
15 rules spelling out how BPL providers may deploy the technology on HF and
low-VHF frequencies. Asserting that the R&O fails to adequately take into
account the technology's potential to interfere with Amateur Radio and other
licensed services, the League called the FCC's action to permit BPL "a gross
policy mistake." The R&O, the ARRL said, "represents a classic case of
prejudgment" by an FCC that knew better but ignored evidence already at its

"It is readily apparent that the Commission long ago made up its mind that
it was going to permit BPL without substantial regulation, no matter what
the effect of this flawed application of old technology is on licensed radio
services," the League's petition declares. The ARRL accuses FCC Commissioner
Michael Powell and his four colleagues of deliberately authorizing "a
spectrum pollution source" that's proven to be incompatible with existing
licensed uses of the HF spectrum.

"The Commission wanted nothing to contradict its enthusiasm about BPL," the
League said, and its Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) saw to it
that evidence of the "fundamental incompatibility" between BPL and incumbent
HF radio services "was suppressed, ignored or discredited." The FCC has not
adjudicated a single interference complaint, the ARRL added, but has swept
interference complaints under the rug.

While expressing appreciation for Commissioner Michael Copps' concerns
regarding BPL's potential to interfere with Amateur Radio and his call for
quick complaint resolution, the League said his admonition "has not been
heeded by either the Enforcement Bureau or the Office of Engineering and

In the filing, which included several technical exhibits to bolster its
major points, the ARRL further argued that Powell--a self-described
"cheerleader" for the technology--the ARRL further argued that Powell should
have recused himself from voting on the R&O. The chairman, the ARRL says,
violated the FCC's own ex parte rules by attending a BPL provider's
demonstration October 12, after release of the October 14 agenda. Powell
"tainted this proceeding" by taking part in the demonstration, and that
alone is sufficient to have the Commission vacate and reconsider its action,
the ARRL alleged.

The League also said the FCC's "late and incomplete" responses to ARRL's
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests fail to show any support for
FCC's conclusions regarding interference to licensed services from BPL. The
highly redacted information release contained nothing that supports the
FCC's conclusions about BPL's interference potential and suppressed negative
recommendations from its own technical investigators, the petition says. As
a result, the League said, the Commission "failed to conduct impartial,
reasoned rulemaking."

The Commission used an unlawful "balancing test" that weighed BPL's
purported benefits against its interference to licensed services, the League
asserts, creating "a hierarchy of licensed radio services" based upon "how
much interference each service deserves." The Communications Act, the
League's petition points out, requires an objective determination from the
outset that the likelihood of harmful interference from a proposed
unlicensed service is virtually nil.

The interference mitigation rules in the R&O are both ineffective and
inequitably applied, the ARRL's petition further argues. Noting the new
rules do not require BPL systems to shut down in the event of interference
except as "a last resort," the League said the practical effect is "that
systems will never have to shut down," even if the BPL operator has not been
able to remedy ongoing harmful interference to the Amateur Service. The new
rules, the petition charges, accord priority to unlicensed BPL, "regardless
of the preclusive effect" or the duration of interference.

In its unanimous BPL decision, the Commission, the League says, has
abandoned its fundamental obligation to avoid interference in
telecommunication systems, instead requiring complainants to initiate
contact with BPL providers and "beg for resolution." The ARRL petition also
faults the Commission's adopted measurement standards.

The League's Petition for Reconsideration in ET Dockets 03-104 and 04-37 is
on the ARRL Web site,

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