FCC Commissioner Lauds BPL in House Testimony; ARRL Responds

Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at verizon.net
Sat Jul 28 11:03:34 CDT 2007

==> FCC Commissioner Lauds BPL in House Testimony; ARRL Responds 

On July 24, FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein testified at a House
Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet hearing that "three
of the many urgent priorities we face" include the need for "a national
broadband strategy to ensure the ubiquitous deployment of affordable,
high speed broadband infrastructure to this country." FCC Chairman Kevin
Martin and Commissioners Tate, McDowell and Copps testified as well at
the "Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission" hearing.

ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, responded via fax on
July 25 to Commissioner Adelstein's remarks. "I cheered silently when I
came to your reference to the 'current anemic definition of high-speed'
that includes service that is too slow to meet citizens' reasonable
expectations," he wrote. "I was even more impressed with your statement
in the next paragraph, 'We must take a hard look at our successes and

Sumner, however, expressed "great disappointment" over Adelstein's
reference to "broadband over power line" (BPL) as "a technology
deserving of 'increasing incentives for investment.' None of your
colleagues' testimonies contain a similar reference," he pointed out.

Sumner reiterated the ARRL's position with regard to BPL technology and
"its propensity to interfere with radio communication, a flaw that is
not shared by other broadband delivery platforms. As long as
interference is avoided," Sumner said, "it is of no concern to us
whether private investment is devoted to BPL. However, we must object to
your identification of BPL as a technology that is particularly
deserving of favorable public policy treatment."

Calling the FCC's "inexplicable favoritism of BPL in the face of
contrary evidence" one of the Commission's "failures," Sumner noted that
according to the Commission's own latest figures, "of 64,600,000
'high-speed' lines, only about 5000 are BPL. This is a share of 0.008
percent, a share that actually declined in the six-month period between
reports--and if an 'anemic' definition were not used, none of the 5000
or so BPL lines would qualify."

ARRL's concern, Sumner said, at the "prospect of an even greater
encouragement of BPL, as your testimony suggests, is that--even at the
very low level of deployment that exists to date--the FCC's enforcement
efforts have proved to be woefully inadequate to address ongoing cases
of harmful interference from BPL systems."

Sumner went on to note "one example of documented interference
(Enforcement Bureau File No. EB-06-SE-083) has been caused by the
Ambient Corporation's Briarcliff Manor, New York installation for more
than three years without being corrected and without penalty to the
system operator...If the Commission is unable to protect its licensees
from harmful interference from BPL now, it is difficult to imagine how
it will be able to do so should BPL be more widely deployed in the

Sumner also attached a letter from William E. Burton, Chairman of the
Public Safety and Security Committee of the Westchester County Board of
Legislators. Burton's letter described the interference BPL is causing
to local Amateur Radio operators in the village of Briarcliff Manor. He
stressed that the FCC "should require that...Ambient cooperate with the
ARRL and its BPL technical experts forthwith...This would include both
the current experimental system, as well as any future or 'second
generation' technology." 

Burton's letter went on to say that "the best way for the FCC to promote
a new technology while protecting public safety...[is to] make clear
that complaints concerning harmful interference are taken seriously."

Sumner concluded his comments: "We respectfully submit that BPL has not
earned a place in the much-needed national broadband strategy to benefit
all Americans. Resources are better devoted elsewhere, to more promising
technologies that do not pose a threat to the Commission's radio service

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