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Utility Cuts Short BPL Trial

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the bzzzzzzt dept.

Communications 239

fatboy writes "The ARRL is reporting that Alliant Energy has called an early end to its broadband over power line (BPL) pilot project in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The "evaluation system" went live March 30, and plans were for it to remain active until August or September. Alliant shut it down June 25. Ongoing, unresolved HF interference from the system to retired engineer Jim Spencer, W0SR, and other amateurs prompted the ARRL to file a complaint to the FCC on Spencer's behalf demanding it be shut down."

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239 comments

Better cancel my plans (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568698)

I was headed to Cedar Rapids, IA because of the speedy porn downloads.

man, be must be buzzed... (4, Funny)

cliveholloway (132299) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568704)

"unresolved HF interference from the system to retired engineer Jim Spencer"

It must be bad if poor old Jim was interfered with.

cLive ;-)

I put the soul in the Final Solution all jews DIE! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568742)

Unsere Konkurrenten beschuldigen uns nationale Sozialisten und ich insbesondere, des Seins intolerant und streits*chtig. Sie sagen, da* wir nicht mit anderen Beteiligten arbeiten m*chten. Sie sagen, da* die nationalen Sozialisten nicht an allen deutsch sind, weil sie ablehnen, mit anderen politischen Beteiligten zu arbeiten. Ist so er zum Haben drei*ig Beteiligte gew*hnlich deutsch? Ich mu* eine Sache zulassen -, die haben Herr diese ist, ziemlich Recht. Wir sind intolerant. Ich habe mich ein Ziel gegeben - um diese drei*ig politischen Beteiligten aus Deutschland heraus zu fegen. Sie verwechseln uns f*r eins von ihnen. Wir haben ein Ziel und wir folgen ihm fanatisch und unbarmherzig zum Grab

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Re:man, be must be buzzed... (5, Insightful)

afarhan (199140) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568995)

Sending data over power cables is the first thing that strikes us when we think of broad-band. As someone involved with broad-band initiatives in india, as a veteran slashdotter and as an ex-ham, i think this needs a few pieces of missing information.

Why power lines? because they are there. More importantly, because you cannot touch any other copper lines (like ma'bell) nor lay them afresh without being billg hisself. now guess who demands this money? the very FCC!

It is often a cheaper and a simpler solution to just run a shielded cable. In India, where such zoning and municipal laws are lax, I have a 100 mbps ethernet drop into my home office. The electic poles are tapped for feeding the hubs on the way as well as providing the physical support for the cable high above the reach of straying cows, buffalos, kids on bikes and cable thieves.

The cable operators pay the electricity folks a fixed low per-pole charge. In the case of BPL, i think it is more of FCC trying to save the phone companies than creating a new last mile solution.
Why can't we lay more cable in anycase? it is a cheaper option.

The point often missed about HF is that like ozone layer, it really affects the entire world. I have a 5 watt transceiver that regularly goes around the world (www.phonestack.com/farhan) using just a 10 meter stretch of wire for an antenna. the noise that BPL will generate can easily disrupt global HF communications that form the backbone for many countries even today. Imagine the interference BPL would create by contributing megawatts of power radiating over millions of miles of wires all over the country.

blaming amateurs is really a shame. especially at slashdot. from the early open source tcp/ip (the KA9Q) to Alan cox. Amateurs have frontlined development of Internet. the very idea of personal science (as something that individuals pursue for pure satisfaction) that propels towards free and open softwares finds its foundations in amateur radio.

Amateur radio is really the only open source communication technology. Everywhere else, you still pay per use. It is also the classic peer to peer technology, it requires no 'service providers' at all just you and a couple of transistors connected to a clothline. The entire communication stack (read morse code decoder) is in your head. how's that for a setup?

No One Ever Tells Us Anything (5, Interesting)

alanhyee (680084) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568707)

I happen to live in the Cedar Rapids/Marion area and I didn't even know this was there. Why doesn't anyone tell us anything?! It would be an alternative to Mediacom and Qwest.

Re:No One Ever Tells Us Anything (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568721)

Why doesn't anyone tell us anything?!

Because we hate you.

Sincerely,
The rest of Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Re:No One Ever Tells Us Anything tsarkon reports (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568901)

because you are a fucking cumguzzling douchebag fuckface queerbait bitch motherfucker.

Re:No One Ever Tells Us Anything (1)

parp (222416) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569170)

Because, if you read the article, you would take note that they hadn't yet gotten to the phase of activating a single customer yet.

Re:No One Ever Tells Us Anything (0, Troll)

bplipschitz (265300) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569420)

I happen to live in the Cedar Rapids/Marion area and I didn't even know this was there. Why doesn't anyone tell us anything?! It would be an alternative to Mediacom and Qwest.

Because, uh (ahem), you're in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Sorry.

As a UK radio ham (5, Interesting)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568718)

I'm incredibly glad to hear this. BPL has the potential to kill ham radio (and actually lot's of other HF radio services) as it uses HT powerlines that were not intended to carry HF signals and act as really excellent antenna (in fact the US Navy uses them to transmit extremly low frequency/long wavelength signlas to its submerged subs! So we know they work as antenna!)

I'm also glad the FCC isn't actually as big a patsy of the BPL industry as it first appeared. Cheers to the FCC and let's hope this is the first nail in the coffin of a truly bad idea.

As an aside: I hope this discourages the power industry muppets in the UK from trying the same thing.

As a fellow Coast to Coast listener (4, Funny)

mcpkaaos (449561) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568748)

You got all of that from Art Bell you big faker! ;-)

As I've stated before... (1, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568829)

I posted this on Jan 20th. Read it here ;)

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=111720&cid=9 47 8957

Re:As a UK radio ham (5, Insightful)

ScouseMouse (690083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568757)

They already tried. They already failed for much the same reasons, except i believe it was also interfering with LW and AM radio signals.

You dont mess with the BBC's signal in the UK. The phase "Ton of bricks" does not give justice to what will happen

Re:As a UK radio ham (1)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569530)

"They already tried. They already failed for much the same reasons, except i believe it was also interfering with LW and AM radio signals"

Yet the other "broadband over power line" (optical fibers on the earth wire) seems to be doing quite well, and not causing much interference at all.

Re:As a UK radio ham (3, Insightful)

obey13 (731453) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568765)

let's hope this is the first nail in the coffin of a truly bad idea.
How is BPL a bad idea? Aside from the problems that need to be worked out with interference with hobbists, this could be a legitimate alternative to dsl and cable. It would be wonderful if a bit of competition could make broadband a little more prevalent/affordable.

Re:As a UK radio ham (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568816)

The big problem with BPL, as was stated by a poster in a previous article, is the wire. Unshielded transmission line will create signals that interfere with radio service. Unshielded wire will also act like a big antenna and pick up noise, thus limiting the bandwidth of the data the line can carry. Replace the wire with something better, and well, you don't have broadband over power lines any more. You will, however, have a workable system without the interference problems.

Re:As a UK radio ham (5, Informative)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569217)

Unshielded transmission line will create signals that interfere with radio service.

Not necessarily so.

Unshielded balanced feeders have been widely used ever since the introduction of RF transmission and the losses can be lower than a sheilded cable if done properly. Leakage will always be slightly higher -- but can still be extremely low providing the lines are balanced properly.

Many years ago I built a balanced unsheilded RF link that was over a mile long on a farm for a CB radio. With an input power of 500mW and a matched dummy load on the other end, the leakage from that feeder was so low as to be almost undetectable beyond a few tens of yards.

I expect that the problem the BPL trials are having is that the power circuits are not balanced at the RF frequencies (or harmonics thereof) that are being used.

Achieving and maintaining high levels of balance across the entire spectrum being used is probably going to be a *major* problem that will stand in the way of this technology.

Re:As a UK radio ham (1)

sl0ppy (454532) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569599)

the leakage from that feeder was so low as to be almost undetectable beyond a few tens of yards

i'm not sure what it's like where you're from, but around here, power lines are tens of yards from each other. from a single line, it's probably no big deal, but when the lines criss-cross like a giant arial antenna, everywhere you look, then you start to have bigger issues.

perhaps it's not such a bad idea, but better saved until all of the utilities are under ground.

Re:As a UK radio ham (4, Insightful)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568896)

How is BPL a bad idea? Aside from the problems that need to be worked out with interference with hobbists, this could be a legitimate alternative to dsl and cable.

Imagine running gigabit ethernet over silver-satin telephone wire.
Now imagine applying several thousand volts to the same wires.

The problems are not just with the hobbiests, they're just the first to notice because they happen to be interested in such things.

Re:As a UK radio ham (5, Insightful)

havana9 (101033) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568926)

The problem is twofold.
First of all on HF spectrum there are not only amateur radio operators: ships, aircrafts, military, private services, broadcasting stations and so on.
If there is an harmful interference to an amateur radio station it could be as well exist an harmful interference to an international airport or a coast guard station. And they can't hear an airplane or a boat distress call.

Using wires made for 50/60 power to transmit data
at high speed is a bad idea because the infrastructure was made to transmit power: the impedance is low and variable, cables aren't paired or shielded, and there is a lot of noise.

Power utilities have a right of way, so to have another competitor they have only to pull optical fibers along with power lines and put a WiFi/UMTS
base station on the poles (or a 10BaseFL/100BaseFX/1000BaseSX switch and pull fiber to the homes).
Better badwidth for users, no interferences to and from other services and appliances, and a working technology.

Re:As a UK radio ham (3, Interesting)

stiggle (649614) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569121)

The right of way only exists for the power lines.
It does not exist to pull fibre or install any equipement not related to the transmission of the power.

Energis found this in the UK when some farmers actually knew their rights and stopped them working on putting their fibre on the high voltage transmission lines.

Re:As a UK radio ham (4, Interesting)

ross.w (87751) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569474)

Optus and Telstra did this in Sydney with cable TV.

Lots of public protest about the extra overhead cabling forced them to stop, and now they aren't doing any new suburbs, because underground is too expensive, so those of us who live there have to use satellite TV and ADSL.

In Canberra, TransACT have put fibre to your house strung on poles as well. Although the poles in Canberra are at the back of people's houses, not the front, so no-one seems to object. Again though, new suburbs with underground power don't get it for a long time yet.

Re:As a UK radio ham (5, Insightful)

GomezAdams (679726) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568958)

First off, there are many services using radio spectrum in the HF regions where the interference takes place. Get a short wave radio and you can hear all sorts of long distance communications taking place by airlines, shipping, military, news services, governments, short wave broadcasters, and so forth. They also have a right to clear communications.

These hobbyists, who use a very small portion of the frequencies in question, include a large number of people who are active in public service sectors for emergencies and for the public welfare in general (for free and providing their own equipment), such as providing free phone patch services for the military in remote areas to call home. In emergencies when the local utilities go out, getting traffic into unaffected areas is very important and if that receiving area has BPL interference than life and limb could be in jeopordy.

BPL is supposed to conform to the existing rules and regulations in place stating that no service is allowed to interfere with another. Period. All these other services have to conform and just because a few people want to make money off the BPL for a few people at the expense of all others does not give them the right to use an unsound technology to do it. If they can come up with good technology that doesn't cause problems than by all means go ahead. And BTW, what are you going to do if you have a transmitter of any service located nearby that continuously knocks out your BPL link? Nothing. BPL is a Type 15 service that has no legal recourse when it is interferred with. BPL as current technology is broken and most likely cannot be cleaned up without massive expense (guess who pays) and investment in a much different type of equipment than is proposed. The power companies want to use the current equipment for BPL because it is cheap. If they have to build a different technology than it is no longer going to be cheap.

Plus what will happen should BPL go through is that the power companies will lease the grid to the existing ISPs and your fees will likely remain within a few percentage points of existing services over POTS and cable anyway. The idea is to make highspeed internet available to all, not to keep your price down.

Re:As a UK radio ham (4, Insightful)

juhaz (110830) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569113)

It's bad idea because those "problems that need to be worked out" CAN NOT be worked out.

You can't "work out" laws of physics, and laws of physics say that large bandwidth over this kind of wires cause interference to just about everything, not just few hobbists.

You need new cables for broadband, and if you put in new cables then it's easier (=cheaper) to just go DSL route.

Re:As a UK radio ham (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569201)

Do you remember 9/11? Remember how the major phone switches for NY were in the towers, and when they fell the network of hobbyists provided 911 services? Yes, the reason a lot more people didn't die that day was a bunch of nice hobbyists. So don't go thinking we're useless, we have no legal obligation to help, but we do, because it's the right thing to do. If you want your BPL, fine, live without emergency services in a disaster. You can always come crying to us for help.

Re:As a UK radio ham (3, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568775)

I hope this discourages the power industry muppets in the UK from trying the same thing.

AFAIK BPL was already tried and rejected in the UK for exactly these reasons a couple of years ago.

Not rejected - available in part of UK. (5, Informative)

Mike Dolan (689707) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569165)

AFAIK BPL was already tried and rejected in the UK for exactly these reasons a couple of years ago.

Nope, it doesn't appear to have been fully rejected. Scottish Hydro Electric appear to offer the service. Website with details here:
Scottish Hydro [hydro.co.uk]

Cheers,
Mike

Re:As a UK radio ham (2, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569200)

The MEA (Manx Electricity Authority) in the Isle of Man are thinking of doing broadband service.

However, they laid fibre everywhere they put in new power lines. I suspect the power line delivery will probably be the last 100 yards to the house, where the cable is already a few feet underground. It'll be interesting to see what their plans are.

Re:As a UK radio ham (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569208)

I thought the Isle of Man had a lot of DSL already anyway? (I certainly remember seeing DSL adverts while I was on holiday there a few years ago, long before most of England got it).

Re:As a UK radio ham (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569229)

The Isle of Man has complete ADSL coverage (the last exchanges were only done at the tail end of last year, Manx Telecom were very reluctant to do the small exchanges with perhaps only a few hundred subscribers, but I think the availability of micro DSLAMs may have made it feasable).

The problem is that Manx Telecom is a private monopoly that likes to charge a lot of money for business services (they can't get away with it for home services because too many people would whine to the government, and their comms license is up for renewal soon). I think companies like the MEA (fibre with their powerlines) and Domicilium (wireless 5.x GHz IIRC) are going to be pitching at the business market offering 2Mbps symmetric lines at about half the price of MT.

Re:As a UK radio ham (1)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568907)

(in fact the US Navy uses them to transmit extremly low frequency/long wavelength signlas to its submerged subs!

No, it doesn't. The Navy has specific special-purpose antennas for that purpose. It does not use powerlines.

Sure, they look like [fas.org] power lines, due to the fact that they're metal wires strung overhead on poles, but they're not feeding AC to anyone's toaster or television, and total radiated power is a handful of watts.

Say that again? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568722)

Ongoing, unresolved HF interference from the system to retired engineer Jim Spencer, W0SR, and other amateurs prompted..

  1. Poor Jim
  2. Who or what are W0SR? WOPRs upgrade?
  3. Other amateur what? Street mimes?

Re:Say that again? (0, Offtopic)

Dunarie (672617) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568888)

I don't know if I should dignify a response, but...

1. Eh.
2. W0SR is some guy's Amateur radio call sign.
3. You are a real smart ass...

Re:Say that again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569036)

I'm sorry but everything I know about amateur radio I got from Frequency, so how the fuck would I know what the article writeup is about unless, oh I don't know, the guy writing it actually gives me enough information to understand it? All he had to do was change "..and other amateurs prompted.." to "..and other amateur radio operators prompted.." and hey, look at that, it all makes sense now.

So tell me, are ham operators always so defensive? I only asked a simple question and it a) gets marked "Troll" and b) have you jump down my throat about it. No wonder ham is a dying hobby; nobody is allowed to ask a few questions!

Re:Say that again? (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569315)

Maybe if you stated a legitimate question with a factual or even inquisitive tone, it might have gotten a serious response. However, your inquiry started out with mock sympathy for "Poor Jim", and the rest was dripping with sarcasm. What kind of answer did you really expect?

No, not all Hams are defensive, but those that are attacked by people with an "attitude" will defend themselves vociferiously.

If you _really_ want to learn something, lose the attitude, and you'll find most Hams actually enjoy passing on knowledge and information about their hobby to others!

Death to all Jews. Death in the Ovens! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568732)

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Re:Death to all Jews. Death in the Ovens! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569096)

Geehrter Herr, machten Sie einen kleinen Fehler. Juden sind nicht die Leute, die wir hassen sollen, mit dem bewundernswerten Genozid in Palästina, es scheint, daß ich über sie falsch war. Wir sollen Tuchköpfe, auf Befehl von meinem sofortigen Nachfolger, George W. Bush jetzt hassen.

Respekt,
Adolf Hitler

Why am I totally unsurprised? (5, Insightful)

panurge (573432) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568740)

  • Put up power lines - = huge aerial system
  • Inject wideband RF into huge aerial system
  • Interference!
In fact the whole idea of RF over power lines, though attractive at first sight, is a triumph of will over physics. A system designed to take kilovolts at around 50-60Hz, with mechanical switches all over the network and a mixture of capacitors and inductors to adjust power factor, is not a benign environment for RF. But people keep trying to do it. There have been attempts at LANs over household wiring - but wireless networking has just about killed that with a combination of speed, convenience and safety.

You can adapt a car to travel on water, but the result is expensive and technically poor. In the same way, I feel broadband over AC power is a cross-model step too far.

Re:Why am I totally unsurprised? (4, Funny)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568825)

You can adapt a car to travel on water, but the result is expensive and technically poor.
Won't stop Branson trying to break a record in it though.

Just because something's hard doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Otherwise, why would you go to the moon or do those other things?

Re:Why am I totally unsurprised? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569313)

Won't stop Branson trying to break a record in it though.

He broke the record; Travelling the 22 miles frm England to France in less than two hours using a Ford Aquada (works out to be around 12 miles/hour).

"Missed the last ferry sir? Just drive down that ramp down there; take a left at the harbour wall, and keep going until you see the European continent."

Re:Why am I totally unsurprised? (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568904)

True - fast and far wireless technology is just on the horizon. Turning rural communities into ad-hoc high speed wireless networks would be simple with this technology - a power company would be prime to allow these devices to be powered and mounted on the utility poles.

I'm shocked they went this far knowing it caused these problems in the first place...

Should ET's SETI be monitoring for 50/60Hz then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568908)

Put up power lines - = huge aerial system

Given the megawatt carrier and huge lengths of wire, how far would this signal be expected to propagate into deep space?

Even if distant SETI programmes can't pick up any data-over-powerlines modulation, it's conceivable that the periodic phase and frequency adjustments might be an indicator of intelligence too ... :-)

consumer versions (1)

iisageek (792802) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568741)

cant you buy kits that allow you to put a network in over powerlines... like a consumer version of this?

Re:consumer versions (2, Informative)

ScouseMouse (690083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568815)

Yes, you can get them from Tandy or Radio shack. I have also seen Baby monitors you can plug in at a socket, but they only go a hundred or so feet at the most.

The problem is that Power lines tend to be very noisy which means you have to put more power in to make your signal discernable at a distance, or your signal will be swamped by the noise.

In a perfect world you could add an extra High frequency signal to the power signal which could easilly be filtered out, but in the real world this is complicated by noise from Electric motors, high frequency Electronics such as computers and mobile phones and the environment in general such as Storms. You also have to either up the signal in combination with the distance or add more expensive repeaters at decreasing intervals. The stronger the signal, the more leakage on RF frequencies.

Re:consumer versions (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568835)

My family used an intercom system that transmits voice through the electrical system. Whenever something started drawing major amperage, powerful static drowned out any signal. So imagine what happens with data transmission.

Re:consumer versions (1)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568871)

Whenever something started drawing major amperage, powerful static drowned out any signal. So imagine what happens with data transmission.

Considering that D-Link, Netgear, and Linksys make powerline ethernet adapters, I'd say the technical issues have been solved...

Re:consumer versions (2, Informative)

robwills (121453) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568872)

Close, but not quite... the signal 'drowning' you speak of is not 'static' from the large electrical device.

It's actually the load of that electrical device lowering the impedance on the electrical circuit on 'house-side' of your meter box. The low impedance inhibits the propigation of the high-frequency signal (the one the intercom uses).

So the intercom signal is drowned, but from low impedance, rather than additional high-frequency RF (noise).

Re:consumer versions (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569058)

"It's actually the load of that electrical device lowering the impedance ..."

Why would something designed to run on 60 cycle AC have a low impedence to higher frequencies? If it has a motor the coils will act as low pass filters and anything else probably has enough capacitance to act as high shunt filters.

Re:consumer versions (3, Informative)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568856)

cant you buy kits that allow you to put a network in over powerlines... like a consumer version of this?

You mean powerline ethernet? Sure...

RF interference. (4, Informative)

ScouseMouse (690083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568747)

This is exactly the same reason that a Broadband over power lines experiment was given up by one of the UKs power providers (The predecessor to Scottish power I think).

I wonder why someone thaught it would be different in the US, even with its more stringent laws about RF interference.

Do these people not do basic searches on prior work?

That was dumb... (3, Interesting)

Shirloki (563610) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568772)

I remember something like this being tried about 5 years ago. It had the amateur radio community in an uproar. Something to do with street lights re-radiating the high-speed internet data in the form of electromagnetic energy. Apparently they did little to fix it. Shame; I wanted to be the first one on my block to have the other cable.

Weird coincidence (4, Interesting)

farmhick (465391) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568776)

I just received my July 2004 issue of PC World today, and glanced thru it. This exact project was mentioned, on page 36. I wonder if this will become a collector's item now. ;^)

The last paragraph is quite telling actually:
Another hurdle: BPL may interfere with radio signals. The Federal Communications Commission is considering rules to forestall such problems, but those rules won't be finalized for months.
That BPL means 'Broadband over Power Line', by the way.

The ARRL - we're here to help. (4, Insightful)

ofdm (748594) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568819)

One thing in the article is cute - the Power Line people invited the ARRL to be involved
The ARRL became involved in Spencer's case after United Power Line Council President William R. Moroney invited the League in mid-March to keep his organization in the loop on any cases of BPL interference that were not being satisfactorily addressed.
and the ARRL have repaid them by asking the FCC to close them down and fine them $10,000:
rhe ARRL's formal complaint to FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief David H. Solomon called on the Commission not only to close down Alliant's BPL field trial system but to fine the utility $10,000 ...

Nice. I'm sure comms companies all over the US will jump at the chance to get the ARRL's contribution and involvement in future.

Either way, it's great to see that the FCC is standing firm to protect sad lonely guys holed up in their bunkers listening to strangers over the airwaves from the interference of sad young(er) lonely guys holed up in their bunkers looking at strangers over the ether.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (4, Informative)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568851)

There is much more [grove-ent.com] than sad lonely guys in their bunkers involed in interference on the HF bands. If you go to that link, most of the frequencies are labelled Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, emergency response, etc.. All these would be subject to inteference out by widespread BPL deployment.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (4, Insightful)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568852)

"Yeah we invited the local neighbourhood watch over so they could let us know whether they had issues with us burgalirising a few of our homes. Boy were we pissed when they reported us to the Police and we were all arrested. That's the last time I invite them"- Bill "Respect" Moroney.

If something is a illegal (and causing radio interference is and the BPL companies know it: they've been told often enough) then it's a crime: the fact that they invited the people affected along to watch doesn't change that fact and they should expect to be told to stop and be punished for it.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (1, Insightful)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568867)

This is more like telling your neighbours that you're going to have a party and to contact you first if it gets too loud, only to have them contact the police first instead.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (1)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568870)

Which would be reasonble if you had a history of starting loud parties at 3 AM.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568911)

Ah. Another one of those people who don't have the minerals to go and speak to the evil noisy party people themselves; they hide inside and get the police to do it for them. And then they whinge that the police take too long to get there.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (1)

Barbarian (9467) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568917)

Actually I've never called in a single noise complaint about a neighbor. However I never had a neighbor who waited until 3 am to start loud parties.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568935)

Axe handles; the ultimate peace brokers.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568994)

But unreasonable if you'd never had a party before -- or no one had ever complained to you or the police before.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569150)

Which is not the case here.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (4, Insightful)

juhaz (110830) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569133)

Bullshit.

Radio interferences is much bigger problem than few neighbours losing their nights sleep, there's all kind of important systems running on the radio bands, not just few ham hobbyists. Not to mention how much larger area it affects.

You don't think it's reasonable for neighbours to contact the police if you're jamming loud enough that it keeps the whole city awake, and no less than THREE MONTHS IN A ROW?

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569259)

Let's dismiss the fact that a large number of complaints files to the ARRL about it and that William R. Moroney ignored or sat on those complaints doing nothing.

the ARRL tried to work with mister moron-ey but he refuse to work with them.

so you simply folloow what other path's you have, turn their asses in to the feds.... maybe then they will listen.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569278)

Without ham radio operators you would not have half the communication technology you have today.

I suggest you post your full name here so many of us in search and rescue as well as RACES and SKYWARN can be sure to give you "extra" help when a natural disaster hit's your area.

Ham radio is a vital service to the community, just because you are too narrow minded or incapable of grasping the concepts of the hobby, (Hey, not everyone can take the test and pass) does not mean it's does not have a huge value to the rest of the world.

the Red Cross uses Ham radio during emergencies, The US government has many time called for help on Ham Radio operators, as well as many technological advancements have been invented by Ham's.

Re:The ARRL - we're here to help. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569291)

Without ham radio operators you would not have half the communication technology you have today.

But it appears we would have had more internet access.

Collins Radio (4, Insightful)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568840)

Cedar Rapids was one of the focal points of radio technology during its early days. Its rather funny to see this experiment, so inimical to wireless, carried out in the origin of much of wireless technology.

Somehow the defeat is poetic justice.

From my perspective (5, Informative)

Creamsickle (792801) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568862)

I live in Cedar Rapids and participated in the program. I didn't RTFA so I'm not sure what it says about this, but the mailer I got a couple days ago didn't say anything about a complaint, it just basically said Alliant had met its goals for the program ahead of schedule, and after working out a few issues there is a possibility the system may be implemented on a larger scale.

Re:From my perspective (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568960)

Note to self: companies are good at PR bullshit.

Re:From my perspective (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569402)

Perhaps this little lie was meant more for the shareholders than you.

They already have fiber (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568873)

I've never understood why they were so gung-ho about this stupid idea in the first place when most power grids already have multi-core fiber optic cable hidden inside the neutral wire. (they use it to communicate between substations and most of the capacity is dark - I put hundreds of miles of this stuff in the air back in the mid-nineties so I know from whence I speak) The power company already has the most valuable easements. Couple that with their existing fiber grid and they could have fiber to the curb in every major market for a lot less than the phone or cable companies who very often have to mount on existing power poles and pay $1 or more per pole for easement rights.

That's how SPRINT became a major Playa in the long distance and later, the backbone market - they used their existing easements. (for those who live in a cave, SPRINT stands for Southern Pacific Railway INTernational - your phone call 'rides the rails'...or more precisely, runs over fiber optic plowed into the roadbed of their gigantic network of railroad tracks)

Re:They already have fiber (2, Interesting)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568925)

I've never understood why they were so gung-ho about this stupid idea in the first place when most power grids already have multi-core fiber optic cable hidden inside the neutral wire.

What neutral wire? There's no neutral wire up on the poles. When you see three wires up there, that's one wire for each phase. In residential neighborhoods, you'll see a phase tapped off to feed a transformer. The output of the transformer feeds each house through two wires, each wire being a 120-volt leg, with 240 volts between them.

I haven't played around with the utility's stuff up on the poles, but I've replaced enough electrical services to note the absence of a neutral. There's no neutral in a earth-return system.

Re:They already have fiber (1)

vyrus128 (747164) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568936)

I thought that sounded curious myself... but I did some digging and managed to verify that the second paragraph, about the history of Sprint -- weird as it seems -- is entirely accurate, so who knows?

Re:They already have fiber (4, Interesting)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568968)

What neutral wire?
Neutral, ground ... its all the same with 3 phase. When you look at the 3 wires, you will find a forth ground line above them all that should take the volts of a lightning strike and it helps the real big circut breakers work right when there is a major problem with a tower. The ground line is what they hang the fiber off of and some places have a coax like shield thats the ground path around the fiber.

The problem is fiber doesn't like the wind action on poles and lots of that dark fiber is good for the distance between the poles and no longer.

Re:They already have fiber (3, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569239)

That still doesn't make any sense. Yes, the ground wire is there for lightning protection, but not for the power distribution system. They use 3-phase Delta transmission, which only requires three wires. There is a Delta-Wye transformation done at some point to give you a neutral wire for use in buildings. There is no neutral wire in the main grid at all. Furthermore, to string critical communications fiber in a lightning cable is, well, suicide.

Re:They already have fiber (2, Informative)

lutz3 (634137) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569308)

This is how the Energis transmission network in the UK is built. The fibre is wrapped around the ground wire at the top of the towers.

Re:They already have fiber (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9568989)

He's refering to the shield/ground wire that runs along the top of the poles and towers. (It's that 4th thin wire that runs above the 3 bigger phase conductors you're talking about.) The shield wire help protect agains lightning strikes.

And it does exist... look here

http://www.broadband-pbimedia.com/ct/archives/04 99 /ct0499f.htm

Re:They already have fiber (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568966)

most power grids already have multi-core fiber optic cable hidden inside the neutral wire.

One question... What is the purpose of the "neutral wire" exctly? It certainly doesn't go to anyone's homes, since "neutral" in your house is actually grounded at your utitily box.

I'm quite interested. What possible use is there for a neutral wire?

According to Wikipedia (1)

grouse (89280) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569185)

Sprint didn't stand for anything, although it was an offshoot of the southern Pacific Railway.

Broadband over Power Lines? Easy. (2, Interesting)

Atragon (711454) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568903)

One word: Fiber. Seriously, just string fiber optic lines along your power lines, you can easily mount repeaters and whatnot on the power towers and then do your last mile with good old cat5 cables (Ok...fine, last 328 feet) terminating in a repeater at the demarcation point.

Twisted pair... (3, Funny)

evilviper (135110) | more than 9 years ago | (#9568986)

I think we all know what this means. Some poor sucker is going to have to go out and start twistng power lines together, to get a pair... Pretty soon, it'll be "PowerLinesTx"

For all you little PRO-BPL'ers (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569002)

How about if we start lighting up hell of transmitters for every frequency, jamming every god damn thing you use! Cable, Cell, AM, FM, UHF, VHF, Microwave, And were going to do it with thousands of watts of power! Your TV will be herring-boned 24/7. Your PC monitors go black. Your wireless unusable. Your copper line phones will have interference. Your wireless phones will be jammed. Your garage door openers will open and close, your sperm count will be down and you'll all fucking have cancer by age 45!

FUCK BPL

Hams should help solve a problem, not create them (0, Flamebait)

Xeger (20906) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569025)

Ok, I entirely understand why these folks are mad about the interference caused by BPL. I have an amateur radio license myself.

It seems to me, however, that if these hams are going to protest the deployment of last-mile(s) broadband technology, they'll be better off promoting a creative, alternative solution. They may lobby all they please, but the population of hams will continue to shrink, and networking will become so ubiquitous, that within 50 years we'll need every broadband delivery mechanism we can get. Delivering power and data over the same link is efficient. Perhaps, by then, we'll be better able to control the interference.

So, instead of fighting the inevitable, why don't they deploy wireless mesh networks to the BPL trial areas? They need to show the locals that broadband can be had for cheap, and without causing their garage doors to open and close at random, TVs to be fuzzy, etc.

Re:Hams should help solve a problem, not create th (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569061)

First you don't seem to be too clear on how much interference there actually is. It is not just hams getting harmonic interference. Visit the ARRL site and read up on the DETAILS specifically the frequencies, and how much power.

That's all the FCC should be in charge of anyway, Freq and Pwr.

As a ham you should know that it wouldn't be too hard to destroy BPL equipment. When there reaches a diminishing return from damaged equipment, then it will go away. Unlike red light cameras (Which are also being destroyed) it will be more serious. Non hams may become involved. We don't OWE everybody broadband access. The power companies are greedy fscking bastards.

So when your power goes completely out, and your eyes are burning your hair is falling out and you have cancer. don't say I didn't tell ya so.

Fibre Optics wrapped around the cable (2, Interesting)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569159)

"they'll be better off promoting a creative, alternative solution. "

Energis (?) in the UK already use Fibre optic cable wrapped around the HT cable for broadband signals. They made a wrig that travels down the HT cable and wraps (spirals) the fibre around it. Simple and easy.

So these guys could do the same without all the interference problems.

Re:Fibre Optics wrapped around the cable (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569221)

I saw that on Tomorrow's World about ten years ago. Very cool device indeed. Clever how they got it to "hop" around the insulators.

Proposed Solution (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569056)

What if the power company were to send tinfoil hats to local ARRL members? Wouldn't that solve the problem?

Re:Proposed Solution (2, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569179)

What if the power company were to send tinfoil hats to local ARRL members? Wouldn't that solve the problem?


Yep, it'll solve the problem. It works just the same as cutting your phone line, or cable to filter porn spam from your e-mail. It's 100% effective. The false positive rate is also 100% just as the intended communications link is now down.

Listening In (1)

JamieKitson (757690) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569225)

So does this mean that you can listen in on what sites your neighbour browses if you have the right equipment?

What about Cincinnati? (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569509)

I think there is an ongoing test in Cincinnati, Ohio. Anyone out there live there that knows if there have been similar complaints there?

Too bad for Iowa (1)

Ortado (89074) | more than 9 years ago | (#9569522)

Good thing I live in Cincinnati [current.net], where we not only have had the testing, but they are rolling it out now. Yea!

BPL in Solvay, NY (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9569571)

Here in Solvay, NY (just outside Syracuse) we are looking at broadband over power lines. The possible difference here is that the village of Solvay is served by its own power plant. One of the perks of living here is 3 cent a KwH electric service.

The link below leads to an article about the upcoming service:

link here [syracuse.com]

Note that they do not mention the issue of RFI in the article.

I admit that it is attractive as the speed is higher and the cost lower than my current DSL.

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