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Mr.RC-Cam

Yet another source of R/C Interference

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BPL, or Broadband over Power Lines, is a new technology that promises to deliver internet service on the "last mile" connection in our neighborhoods. On the surface, it seems like a dandy idea. But, as a park R/C e-flyer, I am a bit concerned about the likely interference issues. BPL can sometimes emit spectral noise all over the RF bands that we R/C'er use. Even the AMA is concerned.

The arrl.org site has a demo video to show its affects. Here is the link to their news story and video: http://www.arrl.org/news/stories/2004/06/18/8/

If you care to help them out then they do accept donations to help their BPL defense effort. More details: http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/

If you aren't concerned about the issue, but instead want to know more about BPL technology in general, then this white paper will offer some info for you: http://www.rac.ca/news/barry.zip

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It's a done deal: http://rcrnews.com/news.cms?newsId=20031

It was a costly fight for the Ham radio guys (ARRL) and I am sorry to see that they lost the battle. As R/C'ers, we should have demanded the AMA to do more to defend the airwaves too.

BPL clutters the VHF spectrum, right where USA R/C frequencies appear. Model flying near BPL wired areas is going to be a bad experience for some folks.

For kids that run their R/C cars in the yard, and those of us that fly in the local parks and schoolyards, interference concerns have just been raised a notch. That is because BPL uses the neighborhood power lines as a metallic RF carrier (an airborne RF link gets the signal to the drop point, from there it is distributed across copper). The BPL signal is an unshielded RF signal and its harmonics scatter throughout the VHF band. Right dab where our R/C frequencies appear.

My local area is already full of broadband competition, so I think I am safe. And, the new houses near my park flying site have underground powerlines, so BPL installation is not possible there. But some of you are in older areas that are not prewired with easy access power poles at your back fence. Watch out -- those are prime candidates for BPL installations. On the bright side, you'll be able to get higher speed access to the RC-CAM fourm. :)

Edited by Mr.RC-Cam

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I believe we should add the proviso "For Now" to the "BPL Wins" headline. As was discussed both on QRZ and eHam; there are other users (besides Amateur and R/c'ers) that will be affected. How many Public Safety organizations still use VHF-Lo for intrastate communication? I don't know, other than a bungh of "The Northern Tier" states, California and W's home state of Texas :rolleyes: How many FEMA-related agencies depend upon Amateur HF and VHF for "When All Else Fails" communications? My comment on that is that our Radio Group was using 2 Yaesu 897's and a KW 570D (all bought with funds from the Yuma City Emergency Mgmt Budget) for Scouts' "Jamboree on the Air" this past weekend - held it at the City's back-up comm center (because that's where they gave us a building and antenna farm).

Not enough? How about Comm'l Radio? Clearchannel has quite a few FM stations between 87-100 MHz. For that matter, NPR (Government-funded Liberalism) has quite the slew of FM Stations around 87-89MHz. ISM stuff from 27-40MHz, braodcast TV channels 2-5; the list of users goes on.

And don't lets consider the Power Industries' recent "downfalls". All over, electric utilities were finding out that their infrastructure was not adequate to handle summer peak demands. Do you believe they can build their system to reliably deliver broadband? I work for one of the "Baby Bells" - we're struggling to provide enough DSL over our networks - and we've had tighter attenuation requirements than comm'l power for decades!

I've talked a bit to members of our local electric utility - if their parent corporation is planning on delivering BPL; they sure don't know about it. In fact, the conversation last came up as their local Community Involvement Director was pestering me about when we were going to get DSL to her neighborhood! Her company isn't going to - because they can't afford to provide it reliably in the foreseeable future.

Too much money to spend on a speculative enterprise - which could then be shut down by much "heavier hitters" than a bunch of "Ham Radio Geeks" and R/C'ers. Let's see if it actually plays out on a national scale. It could well hurt us heavily; or maybe it won't......

Dawg

KC7BDP

DM22qq

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Forgot to mention..... I'm anxiously waiting for Gene's "Shaker A/P" to mature and have a price tag. Seems our Emergecny Management Directors (the City Fire Chief and County Sheriff) have heard about "one of their Radio Guys" (who could that be? :D ) starting to play with R/C again, and expressing a real interest in A/P. They seem to think R/C A/P just might be less expensive and more easily deployable than buying/staffing another chopper!

Dawg

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My concern is the investment community. They clearly see that power lines are connected to every home. And, every home needs internet. Bingo, a ready market exists, or so they will believe. The investors do not have a clue beyond this simple visual picture. And the pitchmen will surely use this to raise capital.

So, I suspect money will be available to fund this nonsense for quite some time. In the meantime, some folks get to experience a bit more interference.

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Well, that could be an issue. However......

Very, very few homes WITH electricity happen to be WITHOUT a phone line. And there are those "resale" phone companys that have been started up as great investment opportunities on paper. In most states, the Public Utility Commision has mandated that the ILEC's (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers - the existing phone company with wires on poles and in the ground) have to provide dialtone to the CLECS (COMPETITIVE Local yada yada, like "At&T Local Service) at a reduced rate - often below the cost of delivery! When the ILEC starts to go bust - and every payday I expect my own paychecks to be issued by the US Bankruptcy Court - it finally gets through to the PUC that things are screwy, and the PUC allows the ILEC to increase its provisioning rate to the CLECs; and the CLECs start "backing out" of selling dialtone in an area! In my case, the Arizona Corporation Commision released that stranglehold on my company, and now AT&T is quietly backing out of the local dialtone business here. The exact same thing has happened with our layered DSL service - New Edge DSL is getting smaller, not larger in at least my corner of Arizona.

Now, my company is in the business and we're having trouble provisioning for DSL everywhere (it's that "almost-bankrupt" thing again). If an Electric Company pays any attention to our struggles while looking at providing an entirely different technology over their lines... are they gonna enter into any agreements with another company (or try it themselves)? How easy (not) will it be for a PUC to mandate that said Electric Company provide a vehicle for foreign transmissions across their lines? For every investor with a "This is a GREAT IDEA" mindset, there are at least TWO bean-counters asking "How much will it cost? CAn we afford it??" That last question is meant to be rhetorical; as the bean-counters just know that they can't afford to spend money - AND they're gonna exaggerate the potential for loss.

A few whispers into some CEO's ear about how his regular-as-clockwork Year-End Bonus is gonna dry up because of this "hair-brained scheme and the associated PUC fines when (not if) it falls flat on its keister"; and it will likely become an UN-done deal. When you become entrenched in some big honkin' bureaucracy like a public utility (especially one with stockholders screaming about their dividends); you just don't want to risk your little Rice Bowl. Everybody may think it's a legal great idea (MONEY FOR NOTHIN" AND THE CHICKS FOR FREE!); but nobody really wants to take on the loss potential.

I'm still clutching my towel....not ready to throw it in just yet.

Dawg

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Well, I stand corrected!

Sent a link to my contact with our local power company... discussion on QRZ re: BPL in Cottonwood, AZ. She was going to "look into" it; and find out what's going on. Somehow, this got past her.

Dawg

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