Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at verizon.net
Fri Mar 2 21:44:10 CST 2007

from the ARRL Bulletin:


The ARRL has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking to
compel the FCC to provide several documents related to its dismissal
<http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2006/12/22/100/> of several broadband over
power line (BPL) interference complaints from radio amateurs in Manassas,
Virginia. The FCC told five Manassas radio amateurs December 14 that it was
throwing out their complaints, asserting that its measurements last October
25 and 26 showed the Manassas BPL system to be in compliance. The ARRL has
disputed the FCC's findings and, on December 21, sought clarification in a
letter to several FCC officials, including Enforcement Bureau Chief Kris
Monteith and Spectrum Enforcement Division Chief Kathryn S. Berthot, who
authored the dismissal letter. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, says the FCC's
silence to date prompted the FOIA request.

"The reasons for the Commission's dismissal, after months of delay, of five
of the six Manassas complaints are inadequately documented, and no action
appears ever to have been taken on a sixth complaint," Sumner commented.
"The FOIA request was submitted only after the FCC failed, after more than
two months, to respond to a letter from the ARRL pointing out apparent
deficiencies in the Commission's investigation and requesting additional
information to supplement Kathryn Berthot's terse and uninformative letter
of December 14 dismissing the five complaints."

While Manassas-area amateurs indicate that new BPL equipment has somewhat
reduced interference, some severe interference exists, and the situation
remains "far from acceptable," Sumner said.

ARRL Chief Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, filed the FOIA request February 23,
seeking essentially the same information and documentation it had asked the
Commission last December to provide voluntarily. The League is looking for
any documents that:

* indicate whether or not the hams who filed interference complaints were
notified in advance of the FCC inspection and testing in late October, and,
if so, who;

* indicate if anyone other than FCC staff observed the Manassas BPL system

* indicate which FCC staffers were involved in the testing and if any were
from the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET);

* indicate which FCC staff members determined the test procedures used
during the October inspection;

* indicate whether or not representatives of BPL system operator COMTek and
equipment supplier Main.net had been notified in advance of the October
inspection and testing;

* identify the six areas of the BPL system where the FCC reported it
conducted tests, how it determined those areas, why two test sites were
segregated from the six identified earlier, whether test results on October
26 differed from those of the previous day and whether there were changes in
the BPL system prior to the October 26 testing, and that

* indicate specific test methodologies and equipment the FCC used during its
testing, specific frequencies checked, radiated emission levels recorded,
the distance from power lines and their height above ground, if any
underground lines were tested and if they were notched on any bands.

The League also wants copies of all correspondence regarding the October
25-26 tests "between or among" OET, the Enforcement Bureau, Main.net, COMTek
and/or the City of Manassas, including letters and e-mails.

In his December 21 response to the FCC, Imlay maintained that Berthot's
letter raised more questions than it answered. For starters, he said,
there's no independent means to evaluate the conclusions Berthot described.

One complainant, George Tarnovsky, K4GVT, said neither he nor the other five
complainants was alerted to the planned FCC testing. The others are Donald
"Butch" Blasdell, W4HJL; William South, N3OH; Arthur Whittum, W1CRO; Jack
Cochran, WC4J, and Dwight Agnew, AI4II. Berthot's December 14 letter
altogether overlooked Whittum's May 2006 complaint that BPL interference
precluded communication with the EastCARS and MidCARS nets on 40 meters. As
recently as February 26, Whittum reported experiencing harmful interference
on 40 meters from emissions that appeared to be well in excess of FCC

Last August, the ARRL had recommended that the FCC Enforcement Bureau and
the OET to take independent measurements in Manassas, rather than relying on
COMTek to provide the information. It further urged the Commission to permit
all concerned parties to witness the testing and be assured that the testing
was valid. "Had that been done," Imlay wrote December 21, "and had the
measurements been fairly and objectively made, and if the results were as
the Commission stated in its December 14 letter, this matter would have been
resolved. As it is, nothing is now resolved."

More information about the Tacos mailing list