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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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Monday, September 01, 2003


Powerline broadband news from last week

Utility consulting giant Power Engineers Inc. aligned itself with powerline broadband vendor Amperion in a "strategic partnership".

It's unclear to me what this relationship means for Power Engineers' utility clients -- will this lock them into the Amperion partnership also? What about other utility consulting firms (like Fiber Planners) that want to look at Amperion -- how much will this chill their interest in Amperion?

Dinah Greek with covered Scottish and Southern Energy's continuing roll-out of powerline broadband in England and Scotland.

Meanwhile, the amateur radio kept up its' opposition to BPL (broadband over powerline) deployments with a couple of recent articles:

"BPL Advocates' Comments Lack Technical Substance, ARRL Reply Comments Say"
"The ARRL (American Radio Relay League) says Broadband over Power Line (BPL) proponents failed in their comments to the FCC to substantiate their claims that the technology will not cause widespread interference."


BPL Places FCC at Regulatory Crossroad, AMRAD Suggests
This article noted that interference cuts both ways -- nearby existing licensed amateur radio or military radio transmitters operating legally at low powers could seriously degrade or effectively shut down powerline broadband systems:

"It said its own testing, both in the field and in the laboratory, demonstrated that an amateur transmitter running as little as 10 W in the vicinity of a BPL system could seriously impair the system's throughput. A 100 W signal would cause it to collapse altogether."

This last issue still has us concerned at Fiber Planners; several existing fiber clients have expressed some interest in deploying powerline broadband as a possible last mile solution but we want to make sure these systems can withstand outside interference. By law, the existing license-holders (mostly government, commercial and amateur radio operators) have the first rights to this spectrum -- powerline broadband system operators would not have any right to shut them down.

If the intereference issues can be resolved, powerline broadband can be an important means of providing high speed Internet access, especially in the many small towns that are otherwise at the bottom of the list for cable and telephone broadband investments. We know of several rural power coops considering powerline broadband after disappointing last mile wireless deployments that were complicated by the old trees and dense foliage common in the small towns they serve.


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