Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at
Fri Jun 9 21:11:11 CDT 2006

>From the ARRL Bulletin


On a 321 to 101 vote, the US House of Representatives on June 8 passed the
Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006.
The House-passed bill, HR 5252, leaves intact language that would require
the FCC to study the interference potential of BPL systems. US Rep Mike
Ross, WD5DVR (D-AR), one of two radio amateurs in Congress, sponsored the
BPL study requirement, "Study of Interference Potential of Broadband over
Power Line Systems," contained in Title V, Section 502 of the complex bill.
HR 5252 now goes to the US Senate, where a separate--and very
different--telecoms bill, the Communications, Consumer's Choice, and
Broadband Deployment Act of 2006 (S 2686) is still in committee.

"We were concerned that a representative might be persuaded by BPL interests
to introduce an amendment to delete or dilute Section 502," said ARRL CEO
David Sumner, K1ZZ. "As it turns out that didn't happen, although we had
taken steps to counter it if it had. So for now our focus returns to the
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee." Sumner says that if
similar language were introduced on the Senate side, it would be more likely
to remain when and if the House and Senate versions go to a conference

Section 502 calls on the FCC to "conduct, and submit to the Committee on
Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on
Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, a study of the
interference potential of broadband over power line systems," within 90 days
of the bill's enactment.

Ross proposed including the study wording while the bill was still in the
Energy and Commerce Committee. With the support of Committee Chairman Joe
Barton (R-TX), the panel agreed by voice vote to include it when it reported
the bill out.

The BPL study requirement reportedly has received significant opposition
from electric utilities. The United Telecom Council (UTC), a bulwark of BPL
support and administrator of the Interference Resolution Web site, last
month referred to the study requirement as a threat and urged its members to
contact their members of Congress regarding its inclusion in the House

A year ago, Ross sponsored House Resolution 230 (H Res 230), which calls on
the FCC to "reconsider and revise rules governing broadband over power line
systems based on a comprehensive evaluation of the interference potential of
those systems to public safety services and other licensed radio services."
That non-binding resolution has eight cosponsors.

In an April 27 statement, Ross said including the FCC study requirement in
the House bill "would guarantee that valuable public safety communications
and Amateur Radio operators are not subject to interference." He said
infrastructure-free Amateur Radio, "often overlooked in favor of flashier
means of communication," can maintain communication in disasters that bring
more vulnerable technology to its knees. Ham radio operators "are often the
only means of communication attainable in a devastated area," Ross said.

"I believe it is imperative that the interference potential [of BPL] is
thoroughly examined and comprehensively evaluated to ensure that deployment
of BPL, which I do support, does not cause radio interference for Amateur
Radio operators and first responders who serve our communities," Ross added.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will consider S
2686 in a markup session later this month. The ARRL has e-mailed members in
the 22 states with Senators on the committee, urging them to write seeking
support to include similar BPL study language in the Senate bill.

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