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Power Networking United States

FCC's Duplicity On BPL Revealed 97

eldavojohn writes "Ars has a summary of the curious events surrounding the death of broadband over power lines (BPL). We've discussed BPL's trials and advances here many times. The Federal Communications Commission's go-ahead was halted last year by a federal court, after a suit by the American Radio Relay League over claims of unacceptable radio interference from BPL. The DC Court of Appeals judge noted, 'There is little doubt that the [FCC] deliberately attempted to exclude from the record evidence adverse to its position.' The ARRL's FOIA request to obtain non-redacted documents finally bore fruit under the Obama administrations more open FOIA guidelines. The ARRL's preliminary analysis of the released documents point out a few critical areas where the FCC redacted data that is clearly adverse to the claims of BPL proponents. By rights, this ought to lay BPL to rest once and for all." A story at Broadband Reports notes that BPL is dying on its own, as most of the vendors who had been testing it "have since moved on to promote smart electrical grid functionality."
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FCC's Duplicity On BPL Revealed

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  • by Jerrry ( 43027 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @10:15AM (#27966001)

    BPL isn't really (and never was) about delivering Internet service over electric lines. It was geared more towards smart power meters that the utilities could read remotely rather than sending an army of meter readers out to every house in the country once a month to read the meters.

  • by pe1rxq ( 141710 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @10:18AM (#27966057) Homepage Journal

    You don't need much bandwidth to read out a few digits....

    The 'B' in BPL stands for Broadband, which was definitly intended to be used to send consumers large amount of porn....

  • by TinBromide ( 921574 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @10:24AM (#27966143)
    Broadband may mean high bandwidth in most marketing contexts, but it also means sending multiple signals over a single line. I doubt that they're sending those digits modulated into the 60hz AC current so they're multiplexing the line in a broadband fashion. Broadband may still apply if each house has its own meter frequency that is sent over a single trunk line coming from the transformer up to the local power station regardless of the bandwidth used.
  • You're years behind the times as that army is already virtually gone. They've long since been replaced by meters that can be read by simply driving down the street and interrogating them as they go by.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @10:49AM (#27966603) Journal

    Yes that's ultimately where the term originates for data communications. "Narrowband" referred to the 0-to-8000 hertz bandwidth of a telephone line, whereas "broadband" referred to a DSL line that has no upper limit (except the increasing noise as you go higher in frequency).

    Now broadband is little more than a marketing term which means "fast". It's gradually lost any technical definition. BPL aka Broadband over Phone Lines could just as easily be called "Fast Internet over phone lines". That's really all it means.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @10:51AM (#27966631) Journal

    although I've read of many stealing power when the lines go right over their house or barns, which have huge transformers hidden in em

    That's an urban legend. The Mythbusters tried it [] and were able to steal a whooping eight millivolts.

  • by Big Boss ( 7354 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:19AM (#27967145)

    With a decent signal, whitespace devices are supposed to avoid that channel. So in areas served with a local transmitter, that shouldn't be an issue. Those that will be negatively effected will be those in "fringe" areas. While that sucks, it is a small minority and they were likely receiving out of area transmissions. IMO, if the signal can't be received with "rabbit ears", it should be OK to use another device there. That might mean that some people have to get better antennas for TV. And some might lose some channels, but I doubt that "The FCC has essentially killed free-to-view TV/radio.".

    If you brought a whitespace device to my house, I seriously doubt the few mW of power would overwhelm my TV setup, even if it used the same channel. I'm ~15 miles from high power transmitters with a directional antenna.

    I'm OK with whitespace devices only if they can be shown to avoid frequencies with an existing user. I'd also want to see decent enforcement so that if someone's malfunctioned the FCC would make them take it off the air. That's the bit that I think makes this plan suspect, the FCC isn't very good at enforcement.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky