BPL: It ain’t over yet

FCC LogoWe haven’t heard much about BPL in the last six months or so, but it ain’t over yet. The FCC has just released its Second Report & Order on BPL and in it, the commission said that the last cycle of comments did not “warrant any changes to the emissions standards or the extrapolation factor.”

They did tweak the rules a bit. The did increase the required notch filtering capability for systems operating below 30 MHz from 20 to 25 dB and clarified the guidelines for measuring emissions. One notable aspect of the new rules is that they differ from the recently-released IEEE 1901 standard  calls for 35 dB notching at frequencies below 30 MHz.

The R&O document itself makes for some interesting reading. The tone is quite petulant. You can tell from the tone how much they resented the ARRL keeping their feet to the fire.

How will the ARRL respond? It’s unsure at this time. The minutes from the October 1, 2011 ARRL Board of Directors Executive Committee meeting note that the ARRL counsel did not expect the second R&O to be released so soon:

BPL Issues: More than three years have passed since the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedure Act when it adopted rules governing broadband over power line (BPL) systems. General Counsel Imlay told the EC that the FCC is “long overdue” in releasing a Report and Order to correct the deficiencies in its BPL regulations. According to Imlay, a draft Report and Order is reportedly circulating among the Commissioners, but is not expected to be adopted soon.

Imlay also pointed out that FCC is also lax in bringing enforcement action against operating BPL systems that have been shown to be operating in violation of the existing rules. Members of the EC agreed that it is time to request another round of meetings with the FCC Commissioners or their senior staff to press these issues.

Over and above all that, it’s good for hams that BPL has not been a big success in the marketplace. Don’t let that fool you, though. BPL has been touted as the backbone of the “smart grid.” That could put lots of little transmitters on the air, in many places where BPL is not being used for Internet access.

It ain’t over yet.

UPDATE 10/27/11

The 10/27/11 ARRL Letter points to a story on the ARRL website about this new R&O. It reads, “‘We were prepared to be disappointed, and we were,’ commented ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ.’ It also says, “While a thorough technical analysis of the FCC’s latest BPL document will take some time, Sumner predicted that the ARRL will file a Petition for Reconsideration.”

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