FW: TechWeb - Manassas, VA Has First BPL Site

Paul L Rinaldo prinaldo at mindspring.com
Wed Oct 19 10:26:26 CDT 2005

>Return-Path: <ke4sky at att.net>
>From: ke4sky at att.net (Ed Harris)
>To: 60Meters_EmCom at yahoogroups.com (60Meters_EmCom),
Va_EmCom at yahoogroups.com (VA_EmCom)
>Subject: FW: TechWeb - Manassas, VA Has First BPL Site 
>Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2005 13:10:41 +0000
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>Would welcome comments from OVH members who can relate their first-hand
>- - - 
>Nation's First Citywide Broadband-Over-Powerline Site Inaugurated
>By W. David Gardner, TechWeb News 
>October 05, 2005 (1:58 PM EDT)
>URL: http://www.techweb.com/wire/171203271 
>The nation's first citywide broadband-over-powerline (BPL) installation
was formally inaugurated Wednesday in Manassas, Va., and the builders of
the service presented it as a model for other municipalities. 
>“What we are announcing today in Manassas is something that could be
rolling out in a year or two from now in literally scores of communities
across the U.S.,” said Joseph Fergus, CEO of service provider
Communications Technologies (COMTek). With some 700 early subscribers and
another 500 waiting to subscribe, COMTek is targeting the 12,500 households
in the city’s 37,000-person population for the service. 
>The broadband service covers a 10-square-mile area and is available at
about $29 a month. The company said it plans to eventually offer VoIP
>At a “news event” Wednesday, city, state and national officials and
politicians took part in the event. The American Public Power Association
(APPA), which initially seeded the project with a grant, was also
represented. The partnership also had help from the State of Virginia and
the City of Manassas. 
>There were some hurdles along the way with existing broadband DSL and
cable providers unhappy about the installation. In addition, local ham
radio operators are complaining that the installation interferes with their
>Members of the Ole Virginia Hams (OVH) amateur radio club tested the
service earlier in the week and claim the ham and BPL technologies continue
to interfere with each other. “The system is highly unreliable,” said
George Tarnovsky, a member of the OVH technical committee, in an interview.
“They do nothing to filter out the interference.” 
>Tarnovsky said the radio group filed a complaint with the FCC several
months ago and plans to file another complaint. BPL technology has been
supported by the FCC in its search for additional broadband technologies.
Former chairman Michael Powell visited the installation and praised the
>Tarnovsky said protesting radio hams were once threatened with police
action, although nothing happened. 
>One OVH director, Donald W. Blasdell, said he demonstrated interference
problems to employees involved with the installation earlier in the week.
He said the installation also can interfere with some public safety bands.
However, Blasdell said he believes the problem can be fixed and he added
that some hams expect to meet with manufacturers of BPL gear to work try to
fix the problem. 
>Other BPL rollouts have been thwarted by interference difficulties. 
>BPL technology has been put forth as an alternate to DSL and cable
broadband and is viewed as a way of bringing the high-speed solution to
rural areas that are too expensive to be reached by DSL or cable. 
>Alan Richardson, president and CEO of the APPA, noted that there are
hundreds of municipalities like Manassas with municipality-owned
electricity utilities that could be candidates for municipality-owned BPL.
He said the proposition shouldn’t be viewed as “an either-or” situation in
which subscribers would be offered “either” DSL-cable “or” a municipal
service. He indicated different broadband solutions could compete with each
>The APPA provided a grant to the city of Manassas to investigate BPL in
2001. The APPA has been interested in the technology also as a way to
enhance the efficiency and reliability of the electric utilities. 
>COMTek said it is negotiating with nine other utilities and organizations
to deliver similar services. 
>BPL could eventually compete with citywide Wi-Fi installations, which are
beginning to be rolled out. The first Wi-Fi site in Rio Rancho, N. M.,
covers a 103-square-mile area. 

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