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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Friday, April 25, 2003


The potential 'dark side' of powerline broadband

The potential 'dark side' of powerline broadband
In an article on ARRLWeb entitled "'Broadband Over Power Line' Could Pose HF Interference Threat", the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) lays out the biggest possible obstacle facing powerline broadband deployment.

The ARRL is the national organization of ham radio operators. Before incorrectly dismissing it as just a group of cranky hobbyists, it's important to note that it probably contains the nation's biggest reservoir of talent and knowledge regarding radio interference of all types. Ham radio operators get blamed (usually unfairly) for all manner of odd problems from broken toasters to bad weather to poor TV reception; as a result, over the decades, they've developed an extensive network of volunteer and professional radio interference experts.

Those interested in the future of powerline broadband should follow the ARRL's comments closely as they track powerline broadband trials in this country for two reasons.

First, some vendors' systems may have more problems with interference than others.

Second, big anntennae (which powerlines are) work both ways, transmitting and receiving. Even if the FCC, eager to promote powerline broadband as we've noted earlier, took the extreme and unlikely step of just grabbing spectrum from amateur radio operators to eliminate the ham radio operators' complaints, the systems most prone to causing interference may be the same systems most likely to suffer noise and signal degradation.

This is definitely an article worth reading for both advocates and opponents of powerline broadband.


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