ACA response to WIA letter of 9 December 2004 on BPL trials
The WIA wrote to the ACA on 9 December 2004 raising the WIA's concerns related to the conduct of Broadband over Power Line trials in Australia, and the radio frequency emissions that were of such character as to be likely to cause substantial interference with radiocommunications services.
Phil Wait - VK2DKN
The WIA asked the ACA as spectrum manager to intervene to protect radiocommunications, and proposed a number of initiatives.
The WIA has received a formal response from the ACA.
The WIA requested the ACA to:
make quality measurements of the field strength of radiation and background noise levels in and near the Queanbeyan trial BPL area;
publish (publicly) the results of its measurements;
assess the risk to radiocommunications users, and to terminate the trial or impose such conditions as necessary to mitigate any risk of substantial interference with radiocommunications; or substantial disruption or disturbance of radiocommunications as a result of operation of the BPL system; and
develop a policy for such trials where they be controlled by an experimental licence with appropriate conditions, and to disclose publicly the grant of such licences, location and other conditions.
Further, the WIA expressed the view that there is a need for the ACA to consult with all radiocommunications users on the impact of deployment of BPL technologies and to determine appropriate standards that adequately protect the important social and economic values of radiocommunications services in Australia. The WIA offered to assist the ACA in a positive and cooperative manner to achieve quality outcomes.
In their letter, the ACA advised that they have been watching developments internationally and in Australia, and are aware of interest by Australian power companies in the technology, and the possibility of using it to provide broadband data access to the public, and to manage the electrical supply network. The ACA acknowledges that the challenge for the ACA is to establish regulatory arrangements that do not unnecessarily block deployments but at the same time, provides measures to protect radiocommunications services from harmful interference.
The ACA intends to consult with stakeholders, including the WIA, and plans to release a discussion paper for comment early in 2005.
As the consultative process will take some time, there is a need to provide regulatory guidance in the interim period. Accordingly, the ACA has developed guidelines on Access BPL trials.
In summary, the guidelines remind Access BPL operators of their obligations under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Cth) and the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth), and requires BPL operators to:
avoid specified frequencies and bands to protect aeronautical and broadcast services; and maritime distress and safety communications; - undertake an analysis of the ACA's Register of Radiocommunications Licences to identify radiocommunications stations located within one (1) kilometre of the geographic area of a proposed trial;
write to the above identified licensees to advise of trials and the possibility of interference and provide a contact person within the BPL operator's organisation to report interference attributed to Access BPL; and
undertake action to mitigate harmful interference.
Most importantly, the ACA reaffirms that irrespective of the guidelines, BPL operators remain subject to the offence provisions of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Cth) that deal with interference to radiocommunications. The guidelines identify possible measures to mitigate interference, but conclude with the statement "In worst case situations, the Access BPL equipment may be required to be turned off".
The ACA is establishing a web portal to include up-to-date information on Australian BPL trials, such as locations, dates of operation, frequency bands of operation, and BPL operator's contact details. The ACA also intends to take measurements of electromagnetic emission levels at some BPL trial locations and a make this information available on the web portal.
The WIA is pleased overall with the ACA's response, and agrees with the ACA that aspects of the guideline requirements mirror, and in some cases exceed, the WIA proposals.
Links to the documents:
WIA letter to the ACA
ACAs letter to the WIA
ACA's Access BPL Trial Guidelines
The WIA looks forward to the ACA's planned discussion paper and will respond to that document.
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