Fwd: [VWS] FCC Directs Manassas BPL System to Act Following Ham's Interference Complaint

Iain McFadyen mcfadyenusa at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 9 22:29:53 CST 2006


Remind any Hams you know in Zipcode 20110 to make the authorities aware of any
complaints regarding BPL....

I wonder if the COMTek area aware of VA QSO party, or Field Day, and the
potential issues they will experience on their BPL system on those weekends?


> FCC Directs Manassas BPL System to Act Following Ham's Interference 
> Complaint
> http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2006/03/09/100/
> NEWINGTON, CT, Mar 9, 2006--Responding to a radio amateur's interference 
> complaint, the FCC has directed the City of Manassas, Virginia, and its BPL 
> system operator COMTek to conduct measurements to ensure its system complies
> with FCC Part 15 rules. The Commission also instructed the city to "resolve 
> any continuing harmful interference." FCC Spectrum Enforcement Division 
> Chief Joseph P. Casey on March 7 called on the city and COMTek to follow up 
> on a complaint filed January 19 by ARRL member Dwight Agnew, AI4II. Agnew, 
> who frequently travels through Manassas and operates mobile, alleges harmful
> BPL interference along Virginia Business Route 234.
> "I had been talking to a friend in Ohio while on my way home from work," 
> Agnew told Casey via e-mail. "I could no longer hear him over the 
> interference on 40 meters (7.2 MHz) while driving through the city. Was able
> to hear him after I left the city." Agnew characterized the effect of the 
> interference as "like a giant, fuzzy mute."
> COMTek operates the Manassas BPL system using Main.net equipment on 
> frequencies between 4 MHz and 30 MHz over a city-owned power grid. The FCC 
> wants the city to take measurements at locations Agnew cited in his 
> complaint "during the hours of peak usage of the system by BPL customers" 
> and submit them to the Commission within 30 days. Casey made it clear that 
> the city "must either eliminate any continuing harmful interference" to 
> Agnew's operations or reduce BPL emissions in the area to 20 dB below the 
> Part 15 limit. In the past, the League has challenged the assumption that 
> this level of attenuation necessarily will resolve interference issues.
> To date, the FCC itself has not taken any measurements on any part of the 
> Manassas BPL system. When radio amateurs have filed interference complaints 
> involving BPL systems elsewhere, the Commission typically has tended instead
> to rely on measurements made by system operators.
> If the city's measurements reveal any portion of the system to be out of 
> compliance with Part 15, the FCC wants the report to describe what steps the
> city took to remediate the problem. Casey also wants Manassas and COMTek to 
> advise of any plans they have to upgrade present "grandfathered" BPL 
> equipment in the system to FCC-certified equipment.
> In January, after COMTek failed to meet its own commitment to resolve 
> longstanding interference complaints from local radio amateurs dating back 
> nearly two years, the ARRL again demanded the system's immediate shutdown. 
> Agnew's complaint is a new one, however.
> In a separate letter March 7, Casey asked four Manassas radio amateurs with 
> complaints already on file to provide "further information." Copies of that 
> letter also went to ARRL, Manassas and COMTek. Casey made clear that Amateur
> Radio licensees addressed in his letter who want to continue pursuing their 
> complaints must respond within 30 days or the FCC "will take no further 
> action." In the same letter, the FCC, which has yet to respond to any of the
> earlier ham radio complaints, conceded that it continues to receive reports 
> of harmful interference. It also noted that "ongoing discussions" involving 
> the earlier complainants, the city and COMTek "have ended without a 
> satisfactory resolution."
> To expedite the information-gathering process, the ARRL on March 8 alerted 
> all radio amateurs living in ZIP code 20110 (Manassas) that "now is the 
> time" to submit harmful interference complaints relating to the city's BPL 
> system.
> "The first step is to verify that BPL is actually the source of the 
> interference," ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, advised. He suggested radio 
> amateurs contact George Tarnovsky, K4GVT--an earlier complainant--for 
> assistance in determining if BPL is causing any harmful interference. 
> Tarnovsky has volunteered to coordinate radio amateurs' efforts to address 
> the interference. The League's correspondence reiterates the filing 
> requirements Casey specified in his March 7 letter.
> Sumner stressed that while the League's measurements and observations "have 
> shown that the potential for harmful interference is widespread," the League
> is not asking amateurs to file BPL interference complains unless they have 
> actually experienced BPL interference.
> "Note that it is not just the amateur bands between 4 and 30 MHz that may be
> affected by BPL interference," Sumner cautioned. "Shortwave broadcasting, 
> WWV reception and CB all may be affected." He asked complainants to copy 
> their reports to the city, COMTek and ARRL.
> "Manassas is often touted as a success story for BPL, while the truth is 
> quite different," Sumner said. "BPL proponents gloss over or ignore the fact
> that the Manassas system has proved to be a significant source of radio 
> spectrum pollution and that COMTek's efforts have failed to correct it."
> Concluded Sumner: "With the FCC finally taking official notice of the 
> presence of harmful interference in Manassas, the tide finally is beginning 
> to turn."

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