Manassas BPL: the saga continues

Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at
Tue Aug 15 16:48:43 CDT 2006


The ARRL has told the FCC it has found a radio interference report filed on
behalf of the Manassas, Virginia, BPL system "flawed in numerous respects."
The League responded this week to a July 17 letter and BPL interference
study the FCC mandated following repeated complaints from local radio

"ARRL objects to the report because it is based on improper engineering
practice and contrary to the instructions provided by your office in your
letter dated June 16, 2006," ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, wrote
FCC Spectrum Enforcement Division Chief Joseph Casey on August 2. In June,
Casey had ordered the City of Manassas and BPL provider COMTek to
investigate complaints from several Manassas radio amateurs of BPL
interference to their mobile operations and report back to the Commission on
their findings. The League, and local amateurs, contend the BPL system is
still causing harmful interference to Amateur Radio operations, despite the
clean bill of health the engineering report purports to present.

"It did so both before and after the tests conducted by COMTek; and there is
no doubt at all that the interference is from the COMTek BPL system operated
in the City of Manassas and not from any other source." The League
reiterated its demand that the system be shut down immediately.

"Unless the Enforcement Bureau is willing to do that, you are going to have
to send Commission staff to observe this interference and conduct their own
measurements in the presence of both COMTek and the local Amateur Radio
operators who are receiving the interference," Imlay asserted. Manassas
radio amateurs who have complained to the FCC about the BPL interference
also have suggested that the FCC must investigate the problem firsthand.

The League maintained that COMTek "has filed incorrect and misleading
reports" and has "manipulated the BPL system to show false readings." In
particular, the ARRL -- and local radio amateurs -- suggest that the BPL
system was not operating at peak user loading during the testing, as the FCC
had ordered. Either that or COMTek and BPL equipment manufacturer
adjusted system power levels downward for the testing, Imlay told the FCC. 

"The Commission is going to have to investigate this matter itself, without
advance notice to COMTek or the City, so that the system is not powered down
or otherwise manipulated to show other than peak loading characteristics at
the power levels typically used in Manassas," the ARRL stated. The League
said it's clear that the FCC can't rely on reports from consultants hired by
the system's operators while excluding the victims of the interference. 

In its dealings with the Manassas BPL system, the League concluded, the FCC
has "completely ignored" Part 15 rules requiring a BPL operator, upon
learning of harmful interference, to investigate and resolve it successfully
within a reasonable time. "The recent submission of COMTek and the City have
produced no resolution of the interference at all," ARRL said. "Rather,
COMTek and the City have shown a complete inability, and now, by their
denials, the unwillingness, to resolve the interference."

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