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MSTV, ARRL Comments Express Concern About BPL Interference

Last Monday was the deadline for filing comments in the FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on broadband access over power line (BPL). The Association of Maximum Service Telecasters (MSTV) filed comments saying that BPL operation should be limited to frequencies below 50 MHz. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) comments said BPL deployment on HF was a mistake and asked the FCC to put the proceeding on hold to allow additional studies of the potential interference impact to licensed radio services.

The MSTV comments supported "the Commission's efforts to promote the delivery of new technologies to consumers" but said "that goal can best be effectuated by limiting the operation of Access BPL services to frequencies below 50 MHz. The limitation will enable widespread deployment of Access BPL while protecting low VHF television stations, particularly DTV stations."

The MSTV comments asserted that "there is no evidence in the record refuting MSTV's concerns about potential interference from Access BPL to low VHF television operations. BPL proponents have submitted virtually no evidence about the type and scope of interference that could be expected from Access BPL technologies operating above 50 MHz. In the absence of such evidence, the commission should not permit Access BPL to operate in the low VHF TV band." MSTV went on to note that "studies in Japan and Europe have shown that BPL systems can significantly increase the noise floor in the bands in which they operate and thereby cause interference to licensed services."

The ARRL comments are summarized in an article on the ARRL web site, Put BPL Proceeding on Ice for Further Evaluation, ARRL Says. The ARRL requested the FCC put the proceeding on hold for one year to work out appropriate interference avoidance and resolution standards. The ARRL said "mere mitigation of interference is not sufficient. It is the absolute obligation of the operator of a Part 15 device or system to prevent interference." The ARRL pointed out that the FCC's NPRM does not require interference resolution. "It only requires some unspecified 'mitigation,' and the determination of what level of mitigation is sufficient is apparently left to the subjective evaluation of the BPL provider."

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) filed comments supporting BPL. A press release had this quote from CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro, "We salute the efforts of the Chairman Powell and the Commission in permitting Access BPL. Deployment of Access BPL will bring us one step closer to President Bush's goal of universal broadband deployment by 2007." The press release did not mention the interference concerns raised by the ARRL and others.