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2005 News Releases




ARRL Calls on FCC to Shut Down Manassas BPL System, Cites Continuing Interference

Date : 14 / 10 / 2005
Author : Phil Wait - VK2DKN

After months of complaints of interference by Amateur Radio operators, the ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, today called for the FCC to instruct the City of Manassas, Virginia, to shut down its broadband over power line (BPL) system.

Communication Technologies (COMTek) operates the BPL system over the municipally owned electric power grid. The ARRL reports the facility has been the source of unresolved interference complaints dating back at least to early 2004, none of which has resulted "in any action or even interest" on the part of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) staff. In the meantime, interference to local Amateur Radio stations continues.

"The Manassas system currently causes harmful interference, and it is not compliant with applicable FCC Part 15 regulations," the ARRL said in a 16-page filing to the OET and the FCC�s Enforcement Bureau. "Whatever actions either Manassas Power or Communication Technologies Inc might have taken to relieve the problem have not been successful, and it persists to the present time. This is precisely the situation the FCC discussed last October in which the system must be shut down, pending successful resolution of the severe interference."

Two years ago, the ARRL put Manassas officials on notice that the League would act on behalf of its members to ensure full compliance with FCC regulations once the city's BPL system, then in the trial stage, started up.

Today's letter included documentation and a history of the complaints made from three licensed Amateur Radio operators showing interference so severe that "no communications can be conducted in the affected amateur allocations."

The ARRL also accused the city of "stonewalling in the face of the repeated complaints." Said the ARRL in its filing: "The parties cannot be said to be working this out cooperatively, since the City of Manassas and its BPL operator are currently in full denial."

The letter to the FCC includes dates and times of repeated contacts with the BPL operator and a lack of effective resolution--and even public denial--of the interference. "They continue to publicly deny the interference issues at every opportunity without taking corrective action," George Tarnovsky said in a letter, referring to Manassas officials. While the BPL operators claim they can "notch out" the ham operators radio frequencies, the hams documents show that the BPL operators have proven ineffective or unwilling to resolve the interference problems. "Our continued monitoring of the Manassas BPL system has shown they continuously open the notches and/or increase signal levels, subsequently interfering with licensed services again," he asserted. "This can only lead to one conclusion--they are not taking the interference issue seriously."

Field tests were conducted not only by Manassas Amateur Radio operators but by the US Department of the Navy. The Navy established that the city's BPL system "was an interference generator at distances of hundreds of feet from the modems on overhead power lines."

The FCC adopted new rules to govern BPL deployment a year ago this week. The new regulations became effective early this year. Earlier this month Manassas formally inaugurated its deployment of the high-speed Internet BPL system, which it promoted as �the first large-scale commercial BPL deployment in North America." Hams note the interference to licensed services caused by Manassas" BPL with only 900 subscribers and speculate how much worse the interference will be if the system is allowed to continue expanding without complying with the FCC regulations.

A copy of the League�s filing to the FCC is available on the ARRL Web site via the following Link
Other information about BPL and Amateur Radio is on the ARRL Web site at the following Link.


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