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FCC's Duplicity On BPL Revealed

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the cooking-the-books dept.

Power 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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Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind BPL (4, Informative)

Jerrry (43027) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (5, Informative)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966057)

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....

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (4, Informative)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

TimTheFoolMan (656432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27968345)

Actually, the way they do this is using an address layer like most any other protocol. A bunch of different topologies exist, but generally speaking, each monitored node will be uniquely addressable with a value embedded in the data frames rather than just by frequency. Multiple frequencies are used to dynamically adjust to the presence of various types of noise.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974825)

I was wondering if say MAC or IP address topologies could be applicable to BPL. BTW aren't certain ISP's already doing this? I could swear I've seen something that looks like an average AC plug with an ethernet port where the normal "tail" would originate. What other purpose would such a "plug" have, if not to transfer data via "power conduits"?

-Oz

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

TimTheFoolMan (656432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975863)

They only lean toward MAC/IP topologies in BPL. In lower-bandwidth scenarios (metering) they go a variety of ways, largely because extended distances mean signals from a given node won't be visible across the entire network, which forces a repeater mechanism of some kind. It gets complex fairly quickly, especially in commercial systems, where huge banks of fluorescent lights create some unpredictable behavior.

Making things worse are the customers who have heard about BPL and say, "Why can't you just replace all these devices with something that does broadband and greater throughput?"

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (5, Funny)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966183)

PS, porn from the power company, that is both shocking and electrifying... I'm sure I'm going to catch some static from that, but I couldn't care watt happens to my current karma because of these charged puns.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967049)

I actually don't expect much resistance to the puns, but I'd think that sort of thing should be confined to your own ohm.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (2, Funny)

Captain Sarcastic (109765) | more than 5 years ago | (#27968369)

You must have been a graduate of the University of Coulombia!

(Re-volting, isn't it?)

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 5 years ago | (#27973623)

Telsa gain!

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (3, Interesting)

Joehonkie (665142) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966205)

Broadband means sending multiple signals over different frequencies on one line, as opposed to baseband which is one signal on one frequency. It actually has no technical meaning that involves necessarily high bandwidth.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (3, Insightful)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966377)

Sounds like my old 14.4 modem was broadband.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966603)

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.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966623)

Not quite. simply utilizing different frequencies within a single base (i.e. sending 00110011 vs 01010101 and so on) is not the same as utilizing several frequency bands.

Imagine if you could tune to every AM radio station available at once, but instead of music, they were sending information. That is similar to downstream broadband. While your modem is limited in that it can only listen to 1 station and get the audible range of frequencies from 20-15000hz (not sure what the filtering cut off is exactly), but only from one channel at a time. 56k is closer to broadband, but not really, because it could tap both the up and down for speed in either direction.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28055515)

No, Broadband means information (signal or data) modulated on a carrier to improve transmissibility. It does not mean multiple signals or multiple carriers, although it doesn't prohibit either of those things. It has no connotation of multiplexing, although fat pipes often attract that usage.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966193)

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.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27967173)

Where do you live, Tomorrowland? I can hardly imagine that the ancient meter on the back of my house will respond to any such interrogation.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967409)

Fear not, citizen. We will break those rebel meters and continue to protect you!

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 5 years ago | (#27969445)

Watch that 'ancient meter' very closely. One day, the power company will swap it out with another. It'll still look 'ancient', with a spinning disk and dial readouts. But inside, there's a small plastic box and a pulse counter (watching the disk). That will respond to the aforementioned interrogation.

My utility company (possibly one of the most backward outfits in the nation) refitted all of our electric and gas meters years ago. They can read them by driving down the road in rural areas, or with a wireless mesh network consisting of repeaters attached to street lights every few blocks (a box about the size of a CATV amp with an antenna sticking out). At larger intervals, they lease a data line from the telco* connecting the system back to HQ.

*I think that line leasing is purely political, to keep the likes of Qwest and Verizon's heads down. In the more rural areas, where the telcos aren't paying attention to the broadband market, the power company just ran their own fiber. And now they're getting into the real retail broadband market.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 5 years ago | (#27969807)

Some area are even farther ahead than your drive-by method, and use a phone service to simply dials into the meter and gets readings. No humans needed.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27969991)

I remember when I was a kid I thought that people who "played with" their meters were magicians. Of course after years of study I know all you need is a well-placed magnet to slow the old spinning disk style down to any rate you choose. However no one should do this because it is clearly illegal.

I wonder if people today are more likely or less likely to know how to "fool" an old style spinning disk electric meter. Of course a "smart" meter would be much less susceptible to tampering--one would think. They should be able to put in enough sensors to detect external EM sources.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

yawn9 (848734) | more than 5 years ago | (#27970931)

Long since? My meter just got upgraded to have this capability two months ago! South St Louis City got upgraded sometime last year, and last I checked they were one of the 20 biggest cities in the country..

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966811)

Now, all we need is BoWL, Broadband over Water Lines!

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967333)

Power over waterlines would be a neater trick though.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27967547)

http://www.google.com/tisp/

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

Wapiti-eater (759089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966947)

Jerry, with such an obvious "spin" statement, I have to wonder which one of the FCC's pet BPL investors you represent or work for?

From day one of this fiasco, BPL was touted as the great "last mile" technology for rural America. It was to make easy, fast and reliable Internet connectivity available to Ma and Pa Kettle. Now, that the FCC has been proven to be complicit in foisting this ineffective and flawed technology (that has been similarly abandoned by almost every other country that's tried it) on a gullible America, you have the gall to suggest "They didn't really mean that"???

Fess up - who's signing your checks? Or are you just blind to the facts due to sight-line obstruction?

The one good thing? Rule of Law still prevails in the US - even if it takes smashing it over the heads of those that are tasked to enforce it.

Re:Smart Meters, not Internet Service was Behind B (1)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27968941)

My meter is read digitally, has been for 4 years. No one comes to my house. I'm not using BoPL.

The FCC is a JEW (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27966025)

It's time to exterminate the FCC.

If we don't exterminate them now, they will build a fascist state that massacres non-Jews and tramples on their rights.

Exterminate the FCC while it's still relatively easy!

it's just like an episode of the X files (0, Offtopic)

MrSaxonite (1521355) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966047)

it's a conspiracy!

Re:it's just like an episode of the X files (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27966633)

Yes ! All corrupted !! Kind Regards - DaForum http://www.da-forum.com/

Re:it's just like an episode of the X files (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27970167)

You're not supposed to call it a conspiracy if it's decided in a boardroom. You call it rational political leveraging to maximize profit potential.

Duh.

SOP for the FCC (4, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966075)

The FCC picks winners and losers all the time. Ask the folks who had private mobile radio licenses when the FCC decided that the frequencies could be better utilized - by Nextel. Most of those licenses were for local emergency services, and we all know how well Nextel worked for them when the time came.

Re:SOP for the FCC (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966685)

Yeah but the FCC should pick the winners and losers based on all available data, and then reach a rational conclusion. There's nothing rational about pre-judging who will be the winner, and then refusing to look at data that shows the winner has flaws. That's more like a religion than a proper-operating government. Faith and blind devotion to a cause, not reason.

Re:SOP for the FCC (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966739)

Faith and blind devotion to a cause, not reason.

In other words, the Democratic and Republican parties?

Re:SOP for the FCC (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 5 years ago | (#27968887)

They do select on the best available data. For example, this selection had 19 billion [fcc.gov] pieces of data submitted.

Re:SOP for the FCC (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27972265)

I think I should add to the end of my previous statement the following:

"... when Nextel's network collapsed and first responders couldn't communicate, and they had gotten rid of their old radios because Nextel promised the FCC service capability they were never able to deliver, and which was apparent to everybody, but the FCC bought off on it anyway".

Re:SOP for the FCC (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974893)

Um.... when it means the difference between "free internet access" (as it should be) and being able to extort people for up to $99 a month for it...well, you are smart enough to guess who wins that one. As hardware, monitoring, and reliability are the primary justifications for internet usage fees, you can also see that NO existing ISP could compete with internet made available over power lines...

-Oz

Re:SOP for the FCC (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975489)

Yeah except that the FCC *supports* BPL. That kinda blows your whole "FCC works for the highest bidder" theory to hell.

Re:SOP for the FCC (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977581)

sorry I was under the impression that facts concerning BPL were left out in order to favor other means of transmission....suppose I need to read more of the comments before commenting myself. -Oz

FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966171)

*This* is why I don't want the government running businesses (mail, trains, hospitals, schools). The people in power use that power to censor information contrary to their personal beliefs, and they push agendas we are forced to adopt (like the "feel good" philosophy that is failing to teach our kids anything). It's a rigged system, a monopoly, not freedom or liberty.

The FCC did exactly the same thing with the Whitespace/TV Band devices -

- they ignored testimony and in-the-field research that demonstrated such devices interfere with television reception. They shoved through the okay on this, and in a few years, over-the-air reception of television (or FM radio) will be near-impossible. Instead people will just see/hear digital hash because the teenager next door is surfing on channel 8 with his Ipod. The FCC has essentially killed free-to-view TV/radio.

I hate monopolies, whether it's a private monopoly like Comcast or a government one. A free market is preferable in almost-all cases. We need the FCC monopoly over the radio spectrum, but that doesn't mean we need to extend FCC-style corruption to other areas. We need fewer monopolies, not more.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (4, Insightful)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966213)

*This* is why I don't want the government running businesses (mail, trains, hospitals, schools). The people in power use that power to censor information contrary to their personal beliefs, and they push agendas we are forced to adopt (like the "feel good" philosophy that is failing to teach our kids anything). It's a rigged system, a monopoly, not freedom or liberty.

But that's the problem. The goverment *isn't* running the show, private industry is.

Imagine what your country would be like if the RIAA were in charge of running the roads.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966369)

Imagine what your country would be like if the RIAA were in charge of running the roads.

I'm sure they would damn well shut down those "performances" of 120 dB thuds coming out of cars driven by dazed and deaf teenagers. I'd cut them a significant degree of slack for that alone.

Now, quit driving your Rice Krispy or whatever on my lawn.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

paganizer (566360) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966373)

Excellent Sig.

Your analogy on the roads is a little...strange. outside of Federal roads, most localities in the U.S. are responsible for maintaining their own roads, and it's usually a blatant crony deal.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966501)

Your analogy on the roads is a little...strange. outside of Federal roads, most localities in the U.S. are responsible for maintaining their own roads, and it's usually a blatant crony deal.

Didn't know that. In that case, you already see the problem ;-)

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967163)

Another flaw with your analogy is that RIAA is only a threat because government gives them the power to sue $150,000 per song downloaded. Without that collusion with the government, RIAA would be powerless.

So the real threat is not RIAA, which by itself is no more harmful than a puppy. The real threat is the government and its use of force or coercion against the citizens. Giving the government even MORE power is only going to make things worse. A better solution is to make government impotent, then there's nothing to fear from the politicians because they cannot touch us.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974211)

The real threat is the government and its use of force or coercion against the citizens.

You don't think private companies can't use force? Suppose I own the private road that runs past your house. I can charge you as much as I like to drive on that. So, now I want $1000 per week, or your car doesn't leave the drive. If you don't pay, I'll just confiscate your car and crush it. Legal? Not legal? Doesn't matter, I'll just pay your $1000 to a lawyer. You can't afford to fight back.

Under all possible combinations of circumstances, privatising things like roads, schools and hospitals ends up with a worse service at a greater cost. You only need to look at people who have been through America's privately-funded schools to see that - I've taught exchange students from degree-level courses at American universities who more-or-less needed to be taught English from "Janet and John" level before they could function at a basic level in a UK technical college.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975521)

>>>You don't think private companies can't use force? Suppose I own the private road

You don't. The People own the road (collectively) and the government administers it. So you example is non-sequitor and irrelevant. I was discussing businesses where competition exists, and why such competition between thousands of businesses is preferable to having an Uncle Sam monopoly. The fomer gives freedom-of choice, while the latter does not.

Monopoly also encourages lack-of-innovation. Why should a monopoly government school improve itself? Even if it's lousy, it still gets the money.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27977077)

Why should a monopoly government school improve itself? Even if it's lousy, it still gets the money.

Because in any sane system (like, pretty much everywhere outside the US, it seems) if it doesn't get the results, it doesn't get the money.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966717)

Imagine what your country would be like if the RIAA were in charge of running the roads.

The difference between RIAA and the Government is that RIAA can't send well armed goons to knock down your door if you choose not to do business with them......

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966877)

You should probably tell them that [laweekly.com] . It looks like their prior strategy of just borrowing actual feds for raids wasn't good enough for them.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967209)

Sounds like the man should have had the balls to stand up for his rights rather than meekly surrender them to a bunch of private citizens with zero actual power. If they attempted that with me I would tell them to fuck off and come back with an actual court order or law enforcement officer. If they persisted I'd take whatever steps I deemed appropriate to defend myself.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967253)

The "RIAA mall cops" have no more power to arrest me than you do. This news does not cause fear to rattle my bones. House Speaker Pelosi on the other hand.....

- Tax
- Jail
- Draft into army and send you to die in some mudhole in 'Nam or Afghanistan

I love my country but fear my Congress. And my president (both current and previous).

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27971565)

It is funny that there was not a public outcry at the wanna-be cop's statement about "These people change names..." figure jesse and al would be on that like stink on shit, or is this newspaper not a liberal rag?

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966775)

Imagine what your country would be like if the RIAA were in charge of running the roads

I think you are confusing things a bit, the problem with the RIAA is not that it's a private organization, but that it's a monopoly.

Private roads exist in many countries. In France and Italy, where I sometimes travel on business, the main roads are private, you pay for each kilometer you drive. The system works fine, at least the pavement is in *much* better shape than most of California's state freeways.
 

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966879)

>>>The goverment *isn't* running the show, private industry is.

I cannot make any sense of your sentence, unless I conclude you have your head buried in the sand. Government runs the local mail business, they run the K-12 schools, and they run passenger rail, and in every case it's a monopoly with all the negative facets thereof (lack of choice, poor service, mistreatment of customers).

Perhaps you were thinking of healthcare, which you are correct is still private, but that's still better than a government monopoly. Imagine if your healthcare was run like Amtrak or the DMV. What a nightmare that would be. At least with private care, you have literally thousands of different hospitals to choose from. If hospital A sucks, choose hospital B instead. It's not a monopoly.

It's pro-choice.

Final thought - The economic housing bubble, and its eventual collapse, was caused by Congress's mandate for zero-down mortgages, and the Federal Reserve's poor economic policies (specifically Greenspan's artificially low lending rates). Yet another failure we can chalk up to government. Yay. And now they are pursuing policies that will create yet another artificial bubble which will build-up during 2010 and 2011, and eventually collapse.

not really (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27969537)

The alleged housing bubble collapsed because they took simple mortgages, then sliced them up and sold slices that contained bits and pieces of them on hedged bets, mixed in with such things as insurance bets, student loans, all sorts of oddball stuff, with more borrowed alleged money, then they did it again and again, up to *twenty times*. They took a mortgage and made believe if was worth ten times what it was and then proceeded to bet against each other. When a lot of these bets came due, they didn't have the scratch and then extorted the people by threatening to "crash the economy" if they didn't get bailed out to cover their derivatives bets. It's been a congame, an economic coup. They went so far into insanity with it that a lot of homeowners now are skating, they are demanding to see the paperwork to see who actually owns their house and mortgage, and it can't be proven who does! Judges are then ruling "sucks to be you" to these mortgage payment demanders because they can't even come up with who owns what anymore. They should have let them crash and burn, we don't need to have some huge quadrillion dollar casino as the primary driving force of the economy. Here, check out this latest [telegraph.co.uk] .

The original homeowners with ARMs are REAL small potatoes in this fiasco, they just want you to fixate on that so you don't see the real problem. Don't look behind that curtain! The big kahuna is all the derivative exposure by a handful of huge investment banks-they shouldn't even be called banks really- and some insurance companies, most of it completely unregulated and off the books for public scrutiny. They are taking the tax payers money and still getting stinking rich with it by buying up other banks and so on. It's just a huge push to consolidate all the wealth and power into fewer hands. It's not an accident, it is a crime! These leet mofos who float around between wallstreet/the Fed and official government positions need to face serious jail time over it, it has been the mother of all extortion and bribery and influence peddling rackets.

Re:not really (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 5 years ago | (#27970197)

Sad to post so insightful a comment as AC. However you are correct sir. To bail out the ARM and other "troubled assets", and by bail out I mean buy their homes for them OUTRIGHT, would have cost far less than what has already been spent to prop up the derivative players who did exactly what you described.

Instead the treasury has transferred a big chunk of the world's wealth to the derivative players to keep them going. I'm sure part of that was because a failure of every bank all at once would have been a problem. But I'm also sure some of it had to do with the fact that banks make political contributions and people living in "troubled assets" don't. So the banks were already made, in large measure, whole and now they are proceeding to carve up the mortgage market to sell all these foreclosures AGAIN even though the government (meaning taxpayers) has already paid for these homes indirectly.

Re:not really (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975553)

>>>The alleged housing bubble collapsed because they took simple mortgages, then sliced them up and sold slices that contained bits and pieces of them

Doesn't matter. Even if the mortgages had been sold whole, there would still be numerous defaults, and still be a bursting of the housing bubble. (And yes there was a bubble - historical housing average is $110,000. At the peak housing averaged $170,000 - it was overinflated.) So who encouraged banks to make poor loans to high-risk poor folks? Congress during the late 90s.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

stang (90261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27969859)

Imagine if your healthcare was run like Amtrak or the DMV. What a nightmare that would be.

Actually, I like my DMV. Right down the street, extended hours of operation (including Saturdays), website for most things (and timely processing if you go through the mail), lots of friendly people, short wait times.

Compare this with my HMO. I can get in easily enough, but my doctors are so swamped trying to cover as many patients (and trying to make as much money) as possible that it's usually 30-40 minutes after the nurse checks my vitals before I actually see the doctor. My healthcare benefits are provided by my wife's employer, so my options are limited unless I want to spend a boatload more money. Sure, it's technically private, but for me, my healthcare is essentially provided by a monopoly.

Maybe instead of trying to tear things down, you could stand up and ask for the people in charge -- you know, the ones you elect -- to put *competent* folks in public service, rather than people they owe a favor to. "Heckuva job there, Brownie..."

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975599)

HMOs are just as bad as DMVs.

And who invented the HMO? That's right. Congress. Yet another wonderful piece-of-shit brought to you by your government. This is why I refuse to join an HMO.* And why I wish the government would stop mucking-around with our healthcare.

*
*I simply pay cash, which is only $200-300 a year, and much cheaper than an HMO.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27975627)

P.S. Last time I went to the Maryland DMV it took 3 hours to have my picture taken. Contrast that with the private organization called AAA, which gave me a passport photo in just ten minutes.

I hate the DMV. I hate Amtrak. I hate Government Mail (which needed yet another taxpayer bailout). I hate government schools which teach nothing. I hate monopolies.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27970051)

I think this http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=225113&title=the-stockholm-syndrome is what commodore64 fears.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27968019)

OH OH, I know this one.

The roads would be paved such that the drive itself would produce music from your tires on the road.

Sadly, you would have to pay to drive on ANY ROAD, and you would not be able to change the station.

Not so fast. (1)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966319)

...whether it's a private monopoly like Comcast...

I think Verizon is showing that isn't the case anymore.

Re:Not so fast. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966935)

A duopoly's not much better. For both Cable and Phone internet providers, they are granted an exclusive license by the local government, which means blocking-out competition.

Re:Not so fast. (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966965)

Yes, in select areas. I see 20 states that have no FIOS at all and and lots of major cities lacking it.

FIOS map [dslreports.com]

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966493)

While I agree that the FCC is riddled with rot, and I'm very much in favor of freedom as a goal, the notion that the free market is more honest seems dubious at best.

The trouble is, private entities are generally quite responsive to customer requirements. This is their virtue, in most cases; but it can also be a huge vice. Institutional Review Boards, for instance, are supposed to verify that clinical trials are being conducted with adequate safeguards for the welfare of research subjects. The companies that hire them, though, are attempting to buy IRB approval, which is what they want, not ethical oversight, which is what they need. Shockingly enough, "customer service" quickly goes from basic efficiency to telling the customer exactly what they want to hear. Arbitration agents tend to work the same way. Any large company that habitually includes mandatory binding arbitration clauses in its contracts(this almost definitely means your bank, your credit card company, often your telco, quite frequently your car dealership, among others) will be a repeat buyer of arbitration services, probably hundreds or thousands of cases a year. You, on the other hand, might be buying a few instances a lifetime. Wholly unsurprisingly, arbiters overwhelmingly find in favor of their real customers, and ones that don't typically find themselves without work.

Regulatory capture is a real, and very important, problem; but government corruption is only one of its forms and it crops up, more or less inescapably, anywhere you have a situation where somebody needs to be told something they don't want to hear in order to protect the rights and interests of others. More specifically, it usually crops up when one party has a small, but extremely concentrated, interest in something, and a much larger party has a larger; but highly diffuse countervailing interest in the same thing. It is a hard problem.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967071)

*This* is why I don't want the government running businesses (mail, trains, hospitals, schools). The people in power use that power to censor information contrary to their personal beliefs, and they push agendas we are forced to adopt (like the "feel good" philosophy that is failing to teach our kids anything). It's a rigged system, a monopoly, not freedom or liberty.

You're deluding yourself. *Whoever* is running businesses, government or private, will use what whatever power they have to censor information contrary to their personal beliefs or agendas and use whatever power they have to force those beliefs and agendas.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | more than 5 years ago | (#27971369)

*This* is why I don't want the government running businesses (mail, trains, hospitals, schools). The people in power use that power to censor information contrary to their personal beliefs, and they push agendas we are forced to adopt (like the "feel good" philosophy that is failing to teach our kids anything). It's a rigged system, a monopoly, not freedom or liberty.

You're deluding yourself. *Whoever* is running businesses, government or private, will use what whatever power they have to censor information contrary to their personal beliefs or agendas and use whatever power they have to force those beliefs and agendas.

I'll second that idea. Anyone that thinks that any private company will run any public institution with less corruption or self-interest are extremely myopic. At least if it's in the public sector, we have a chance at changing those in charge. Maybe years and years ago there was proper separation between public and private sector...but as far I as see it, the guys in charge don't really want it that way. (Mods that disagree: Before you mark me a troll/flamebait go and look up, as an example, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, and for whom they have worked. Then look at the decisions they have made, and you'll see what I am talking about).

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (2, Informative)

Big Boss (7354) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967987)

As bad as government agencies are, businesses running things for profit can and does cause MORE damage. When corporations censor facts they don't like, they're not even breaking the law and there is no FOIA that might eventually force them to cough up the evidence. Just look at the fine job the Federal Reserve did keeping the economy stable!

Corporations don't even have to maintain a facade of being primarily in the public interest, much less actually BEING in the public interest.

Of course, it IS possible to have socialized industry without creating a monopoly. Simply don't make competing illegal. If the free market actually will produce the superior solution, that competition will spring up and the management of the government version will have much to answer for.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27968707)

You seem to overlook the fact that the government runs those things for more efficiently then private industry does.

"(like the "feel good" philosophy that is failing to teach our kids anything)"

Specifically caused by government agencies having less power in the schools.

The free market is too prone to failure to be running certain services.

How do you propose there not be a monopoly on water delivery to the home?
Every get there own pipes?
Industry will also cut corners to shore up profits, Raises prices on a whim, and a myriad of other things.
With a government agency you have more control, better services, and process in place that they are accountable for.

The government is peple. So, yes there are problems, but compared to the tens, if not hundred, of thousand of projects going on, it's pretty damn good.

"The FCC has essentially killed free-to-view TV/radio."

NO it hasn't. It is ignorant beyond belief to think that. Yeah, I'm going to need to get a converter for my ancient TV. Big deal.
I had to buy a large antenna to get decent reception before. I don't pay for TV.

You have control and can hold accountable what the government does with it's monopoly, you can't with a corporation, whether it's a monopoly or not.

Of course, it is completly irrational to say you 'hate a monopoly'. Perhaps you hate organizations that abuse it's monopoly?

I suggest you put your hate of the man aside and research government waste and accountability. It is FAR superiour then any large corporations.

How do you not have a monopoly one something when there is only one delivery mechanism for it? Like water and sewage?

No, there should be a government everything, just that is some areas it's far better for us, the people, to have the government running it.

This case there was a problem, the courts are going to get it hashed out. Those pesky government monopoly courts.

If this had happened in a private corporation, you would most likely never had found out.

Finally, you probably should look into this beyond a arstechnica review of the docs.

Re:FCC redacted data adverse to BPL (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27970673)

*This* is why I don't want the government running businesses (mail, trains, hospitals, schools). The people in power use that power to censor information contrary to their personal beliefs, and they push agendas we are forced to adopt (like the "feel good" philosophy that is failing to teach our kids anything). It's a rigged system, a monopoly, not freedom or liberty.

And private people would never try and force a personal agenda, or belief system, (like the young earthers, or IDiots), on society.

Still working in at least one test city (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27966203)

It's still working in Manassas, Virginia. If you want full duplex 32 kbps for $24.95/month that is.

The contractor, Comtec, that ran the program has pulled out and it is now managed directly through the city's utilities department.

Re:Still working in at least one test city (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966539)

If you want full duplex 32 kbps for $24.95/month that is.

My v.34+ USR Courier gave me that sometime around 1996 as I recall......

Re:Still working in at least one test city (1)

Publikwerks (885730) | more than 5 years ago | (#27968531)

Will I have to sign up for AOL?

Sue there ass! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27966249)

Seriously, this has to be some blatant abuse of power. Isn't there some law we can hit them on?

the real issue is the frequencies in use (5, Insightful)

MrSaxonite (1521355) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966335)

The real problem with broadband over powerline is you need alot of bandwidth, at the low frequencys that are called the AM band, and the shortwave band; which would not be so bad, if the cables they used for this were like the one the cable tv company used, but the powerlines are not shielded cables, anything that goes over them leaks energy all over the place, basicly overloading all the cheap electronics with rf recievers in them, yet unlike the cable tv companies, the power companies don't think you want to steal their signals... 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

it's bugs us ham radio people the most, cause, the way to test if it was causing crazy ass static to overwhlem all the nice signals we used to get from foriegn countries, (which is how we make our free long distance phone calls, be it analog, or digital, wheather talking, typing, or sending pictures) was not to listen to the radio, no, instead it was the signal level at the closest powerlines and the fcc's version of how quick the signal is supposed to drop off.... hence this ugly argument, and the desire to hide the facts as to how it was decided.

73's (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966533)

I'm not into the HF part of amateur radio, but into the vh/uhf, digital aspects, but a lot of the guys I yack with on the radio that do use HF were scared to death that these idiots at the FCC were going to let this go through. Someone tried to say that in an emergency, the ham radio community would still work, because the power would be down in the area where BPL was used, so interference wouldn't be an issue. I had to explain to the moron that, well, that's fine, but what about the person on the other end they were wanting to get emergency communications out to had BPL? He wouldn't be able to hear them. Sometimes, people are just clueless... 73's KB0GNK

Re:the real issue is the frequencies in use (2, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966631)

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 [wikipedia.org] and were able to steal a whooping eight millivolts.

Re:the real issue is the frequencies in use (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966727)

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

That's because they are IDIOTS who do not understand TIME CUBE. Only with a perfect understanding IMPOSSIBLE in in their SINGLE DAY SLAVE UNREALITY will this WORK.

I wonder if the time cube guy comes from the same planet as Dr. Bronner.

Re:the real issue is the frequencies in use (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967051)

I didn't understand most of what you said (especially paragraph two which read like English that's not). In brief, I think you were saying BPL turns the power lines into giant transmitters, and these transmitters block AM, Shortwave, FM, TV, Cellphone, and other wireless communications. In other words, it's a bad idea.

Re:the real issue is the frequencies in use (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27974261)

I think you were saying BPL turns the power lines into giant transmitters, and these transmitters block AM, Shortwave, FM, TV, Cellphone, and other wireless communications.

That's pretty much it.

in other words, it's a bad idea.

That's a mild way of putting it.

If you have BPL near you, you will not be able to use any kind of radio equipment that uses anything below microwave frequencies. Mobile phones might work, wifi might work, VHF radio and down will *not* work.

Good Riddance (2, Insightful)

brain1 (699194) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966349)

It's about time this whole lamebrain flawed "technology" finally was put in the grave. There was a lot more than just Amateur Radio at stake. Military, Shipboard, and Aircraft use the 3-30 MHz band as well an I think they wouldn't have been as nice as the ARRL.

End FCC Commissioner Corruption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27966365)

If you let the Power Line company lobbyists influence the FCC through gifts, meals, and post-FCC jobs, you're going to have problems: http://projects.publicintegrity.org/telecom/report.aspx?aid=62 [publicintegrity.org] .

powerline ethernet however, is doing well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27966433)

In contrast to BPL, powerline ethernet [newegg.com] is doing quite well and has some nice products (I'd suggest it to anyone over wireless in a home any day - much faster and better range).

One big problem with BPL vs powerline ethernet has been distance as well, and this is something that everyone trying to sell BPL doesn't have a reasonable solution for.

Re:powerline ethernet however, is doing well (5, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966577)

In contrast to BPL, powerline ethernet is doing quite well and has some nice products (I'd suggest it to anyone over wireless in a home any day - much faster and better range).

Unfortunately it causes the same sort of interference as BPL. One of my neighbours has just recently had his powerline ethernet kit taken away because it was causing interference from broadcast AM at 500kHz or so right up to about 150MHz. Two doors down it was enough to completely disrupt the 2m amateur band, and a couple of hundred metres away it was enough to disrupt the VHF lowband railway signalling system...

Re:powerline ethernet however, is doing well (1)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966605)

The problem with powerline ethernet is the price. I'm essentially paying $150 for two network jacks.

Re:powerline ethernet however, is doing well (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966797)

You get a pair for free with the BT Vision box I think. It costs £30.

Re:powerline ethernet however, is doing well (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27967247)

Depending on your house, that may compare favourably with the cost of running cable to the desired location.

I find this part really ominous (1)

hardie (716254) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966553)

"Most of the BPL vendors the FCC was presumably working for have since moved on to promote smart electrical grid functionality."

So much for an improved grid.

Steve

And the people rejoyced (2, Funny)

cyberbill79 (1268994) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966557)

Yay. After seeing the reports on what it would do to the radio spectrum, I was worried some guy in his office somewhere would just stamp the 'OK' on it. Thank you ARRL and all involved. Maybe I should renew my membership now... meh.

All corrupted ! (1)

DaForum (1555347) | more than 5 years ago | (#27966917)

They're all corrupted !!! Kind Regards, DaForum http://www.da-forum.com/ [da-forum.com]

US power sector might be less evil? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27968977)

The last thing the USA wants is the next big thing entering from some up start. Some small foreign company giving the US power sector real a entry into a nice monopoly/duopoly.
Real competition down every street ? Americans might get a taste for it and look for more in other sectors.

The NSA has grown up with generations of US telcos. Everybody is happy. Nothing slips, leaks, is found or talked about.

What happens if a warning goes up in Berlin, Beijing, Johannesburg or London that a pipe is blocked?. "Our network is been messed with again" and they find something by chance? Local cops wait for a hacker sting after a call from head office.
Open a van packed with narus units and find ip's that are off the chart?

Best just to kill it in committee. Everybody wins. No new evil companies to hurt established players.
No stray RF to make grandparents generation of toy users or the star scientists lobby hard, no new tech for the NSA to stress about.

Re:US power sector might be less evil? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27969853)

No, that was not it. The technology simply was/is bad technology. It really did not deliver the performance promised without wiping out all the lower frequencies. Ultimately, every home will need to have access to fiber as most advanced western countries will have. BPL could never delver that performance on the best of days. No conspiracy here (other than the FCC redacting the true performance data).

BPL (1)

mathman47 (1535533) | more than 5 years ago | (#27976841)

Try http://www.arrl.org/ [arrl.org] for original stories. If we had another 4 years of Bush we would be in a world of hurt. Do nothing, tell nothing. The court made an 180 degree turnaround after reading the FCC's non-redacted script, just as anyone will. A small group of geeks can make a difference.

So be it (1)

tekshogun (1110191) | more than 5 years ago | (#27994745)

I am glad we have put BPL to rest, at least for now. I have seen the video demonstrations from hams (I am an amateur operator my self) driving around the BPL test sites showing the kind of interference caused with these systems. I also work for a water utility. There is no need for power companies to spend truck loads of money just to read meters. They can setup, easily, radio read meters where a very few number of people can drive around and read OR a wireless mesh network in which NO ONE has to leave the office unless a transmitter is not working properly. With that said, the power companies were not the biggest pushers, the FCC was and Michael Powell (at the time) and his chronies were trying to appease the idea to bring broadband to EVERYONE but with little forethought. The U.S. should have been and already have, by now, a national wireless internet service. BPL is gone, thank you to the ARRL, let's move on.
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