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Extension Granted for Filing Comments in FCC BPL Proceeding

The FCC has extended the deadline for filing reply comments in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding Access Broadband over Power Line (BPL) to June 22, 2004. As noted in earlier RF Reports, ham radio operators, shortwave listeners, low-VHF TV broadcasters and some government agencies are concerned about the potential BPL could cause to the RF spectrum below 80 MHz. The extension was requested by The National Antenna Consortium (NAC) and The Amherst Alliance. NAC and Alliance requested the deadline be extended to the latter of two dates - September 1, 2004 or two months after the public release of Phase 2 of the NTIA study on BPL interference.

The FCC Order Granting Extension of Time said a brief extension of time to file comments is in the public interest, but did not see a justification for such a long extension. The FCC said NTIA had indicated it planned to submit comments and a Technical Appendix in the proceeding by May 28, 2004, and three weeks "should provide ample time for review and analysis of this information." The FCC noted that BPL was already allowed under Part 15 regulations and that the new rules imposed tighter interference requirements. "Thus, delaying this proceeding diminishes the Commission's ability to protect licensed users currently occupying this spectrum, and an extension beyond the three weeks granted herein would needlessly increase regulatory uncertainty about this technology's promise to deliver broadband services to American consumers and Internet and high-speed broadband access to rural and underserved areas."

The ARRL has an article on its web site previewing some of the findings in the NTIA Phase 2 study. The article, NTIA Head Tips Hand on Agency's Additional BPL Findings, noted that "The NTIA predicts that millions of BPL devices can be deployed under the rules the FCC is expected to adopt--probably later this year--before ionospheric propagation and aggregate BPL emissions become an interference issue." The article quoted ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, asking, "Does this mean it's okay to go ahead with a bad idea if the problems it causes are sufficiently far in the future?"

You may also want to visit the web sites of the two organizations that requested the extension: The National Antenna Consortium (NAC) and The Amherst Alliance. NAC focuses on communication tower siting and CC&R restrictions on amateur radio antennas as well as BPL. The Amherst Alliance's Web site says "We are current broadcasters, future broadcasters and simply concerned citizens. We stand for the proposition that the airwaves of America should reflect the breadth of American life--not simply the board rooms of less than a dozen megacorporations." The ARRL article FCC Extends BPL Reply Comments Filing Deadline has additional information on the two groups.