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Re: UTC nastygram on BPL


Thanks so much for sharing your expertise. Your rant[!] provides a
perspective that I think is important for all of us to be aware of.

 Personally, I have talked with our local power company area manager about
BPL and he assured me that there were no plans to offer BPL service locally
[of course, that could change in a nanosecond] and we enjoy buried service
which may be of help if BPL were offered.

Bryant, W2RGG

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Emily Clarke" <w0eec@amsat.org>
To: "Bryant Winchell" <bryantcw@cox.net>; "Gunther Meisse"
<gmouse@neo.rr.com>; "'Arthur H Feller'" <afeller@ieee.org>
Cc: <amsat-bb@AMSAT.Org>
Sent: Thursday, June 24, 2004 11:35 PM
Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] UTC nastygram on BPL

> I apologize for the length of this post (or as some may see it - a
> rant.)  BPL is a complex technical, political and corporate issue.  So I
> felt it important to speak about the entire issue, not small parts of it.
> Please don't take any of my comments as being in favour of BPL because I'm
> not. There are many problems with BPL, but there are also problems with
> way the ARRL has approached the BPL problem.  After a long silence on the
> issue and having time to consider it,  I think it's important to voice my
> feelings.
> Where did the ARRL go wrong?
> The ARRL seems to have taken an emotional approach to the issue without
> considering technical issues in detail. Although I'm a member and will
> continue to be, I think they dropped the ball and failed to present the
> problem in a way that would encourage all to look at the BPL issue
> OK - If the ARRL is Wrong, is BPL Good?
> No. My first objection to BPL is not because it won't interfere with
> current spectrum allocations (it will) but rather that the ARRL decided to
> try to fight it from the "me first" standpoint of protecting spectrum
> rights.  That was doomed from the start because taking the standpoint of
> exclusive spectrum rights has failed, and will continue to fail.
> BPL is presumably a spread spectrum technology of which I know much about.
> While I can't divulge why, before I retired from the defense industry, I
> spent a lot of time developing it. I spent many hours in front of spectrum
> analyzers looking at, tweaking it, and analyzing it's characteristics. So
> am very familiar with the concept and it's implementation. At least from a
> signal characteristics point of view.
> Isn't it interference?
> While it will certainly raise the noise floor, it doesn't constitute
> "harmful" interference according to current definitions.  Why not? The
> definition of harmful interference is not absolute. It's nebulous, and
> the question "how much" - which in this case is not readily quantifiable.
> So what to do?
> The bigger issue is the fact that an industry that has a track record of
> being extremely irresponsible, as those who live in the Northeast which
> blacked out, and those of us who live in California who were blackmailed
> know, is now claiming it will be a "responsible corporate citizen" when it
> comes to this technology. And they expect us to trust them to resolve
> This certainly taxes credibility. My personal attitude is that power
> companies should deliver power. If and when they have proven they finally
> get that right they can discuss expanding their services, Until that time
> they have no right to promise subscribers more services when they cannot
> deliver their primary service.
> The power companies will argue that they have outsourced that to other,
> more technically savvy companies (almost all have - as many of us who have
> cable or DSL know.) However you don't really have any means of looking at
> their track records and the power companies put the "face" on until there
> is a customer service issue,  What do we know of them?   Most are guarded
> in secrecy. The web pages don't load, or provide only marketing
> with no technical contact information.
> Also look at corporate earnings projections for power companies going out
> to 5 years, Most have a "royalities" line item, and if you follow the
> detail they are factoring in earnings from BPL that they have yet to earn.
> But they "project" them, and will protect the projections. It's what
> marketing people do.
> The Noise Thing
> But back to technical issues. The ARRL continues to fight on the basis on
> "noise". Rather than insisting on primary allocations and seeking
> authorizations for similar modulation techniques, the ARRL insists this is
> the same as TVI, hast to be "stopped in it's tracks" and that the
> interference battle will will be exasperating. It will, but the ARRL will
> Here is why.
> Spread spectrum raises the noise floor but not to the extent it will
> violate Part 15 because the amount of power in Part 15 segments is not
> measurable.  Also, threats about amateurs interfering with it are
> groundless.  BPL is immune to narrow band jamming because it uses very
> sophisticated forward error correction. This means, you can crank your
> transmitter up to 1500 watts and it will not interfere with their
> signal.  They are frequency hopping over an 80MHz spectrum and you can
> hit them at 3KHz at a time.  So the idea that Amateur Radio will interfere
> with a wideband fast frequency hopping (FFH) spread spectrum signal is a
> fallacy.
> You can't jam it.  I spent almost 10 years of my career designing
> counter-measures and you can't defeat a FFH signal with with a broad
> jammer. Even if you tried you would fail (so don't try this at
> home.)  First of all you would have to broadcast it's entire spectrum (
> can't - that's illegal since it extends beyond the amateur band) and you
> would expend so much power you would blow out all the light bulbs in a 6
> mile radius!  (Just kidding - that's just speculation - but probably
> close.)  So they are quite confident we are the weaklings, and they will
> use that as a converse argument if challenged.
> Is there no stopping it?
> Possibly.  BPL is being tried in URBAN areas, but they pushed this on the
> public agenda as a plan is to service RURAL subscribers.  What the ARRL
> should have forged is an alliance with the Telcos and cable operators to
> restrict BPL to RURAL areas alone.  If that happened BPL would have died
> because their marketing plan included running services into urban and
> suburban areas with presumably few if any changes in the wiring
> infrastructure.  Look at where the current test sites have been? None have
> been rural - they really have no eyes on the urban customer except for the
> occasional school that they can run in their ads.  If you want to defeat
> them, force them to deliver on their initial promises.
> Another way to defeat BPL is to insure they can't undercut the
> competition.  They will probably offer "discounts" lasting 6 to 12 months
> for customers to switch.  Fight that, and convince your neighbors to not
> succumb to flashy marketing.  It is how they target converts, and once
> get a foothold will try to leverage their presumed strength.
> And the first step is to make sure it doesn't come into your neighborhood.
> Make sure you educate your neighbors about BPL and the hollow promises.
> So is there an answer?
> There isn't an easy one.  Exposing an industry that has the facts on their
> side is hard.  You can start by taking definitive measurements of the
> floor in your neighborhood today with a good spectrum analyzer or a wide
> band receiver.  The ICOM PCR-1000 coupled with the TALK_PCR software and a
> laptop that can take screen shots  is a good start that you can install in
> a car or truck to take measurements.  (I am not making an endorsement here
> - it's just what I use.)  Many surplus spectrum analyzers will do a good
> job too.  Have a good scientific method for measuring the noise floor and
> have the method documented and witnessed by another ham (preferably an
> Extra class - it will hold the most credibility.) This way if BPL is
> introduced into your neighborhood you can document the change in the noise
> floor.  Without this information it's just speculation.
> Secondarily, if you are in good standing with your neighbors, convince
> to shun BPL and get DSL or cable.  The power company won't bring BPL into
> neighborhood if no one wants it. Make it uneconomic (and even hostile) for
> for them to come in.  Oppose any tax incentives they may get for doing
> so.  Go to school board meetings and make sure they aren't seduced by
> cheaper rates that will soon disappear.
> Lastly, realize that the future of ham radio may lie elsewhere. This could
> be a wakeup call to find other technologies. Look for them - they may hold
> the answers. The current spectrum is ours, but we have to use it
> In conclusion
> Don't expect a quick fix. It isn't going to happen.  Don't lose your
> license trying to "jam" it. It won't work and it will only get you in
> trouble. Do be active and proactive,  Document and report,  If they know
> are watching with state of the art "non-tube" technology, it will make
> think twice and be afraid,  They are not prepared for a war beyond
> words/  Spending money to defend technical lawsuits it the one thing that
> will strike fear into their hearts and make them think again.
> My 2 cents, and 73,
> Emily
> At 08:44 PM 6/24/2004 -0700, Bryant Winchell wrote:
> >Gunther-
> >
> >Your remark piqued my interest so I dug a bit into the messages.  The
> >following paragraph kind of shows what we're up against.  I'm including
> >to the bb for the benefit of others like me who haven't [hadn't] clicked
> >the URL.
> >
> >Thanks for the motivation!
> >
> >Bryant, W2RGG
> >
> >"UPLC also commented on amateur radio opposition to the technology,
> >the Commission to ignore "armchair amateurs that still use vacuum tube
> >transmitters" and listen to the reputable companies and entrepreneurs who
> >are the real experts on BPL and who have overcome enormous technical
> >obstacles to make BPL a reality in the U.S. All the field trials over the
> >years in various parts of the country have shown that the risk of
> >interference from BPL is extraordinarily low, because it produces only
> >minimal radio frequency energy at a few points in the system. Moreover,
> >these systems will incorporate adaptive interference mitigation
> >that will effectively remedy any interference that might result to fixed
> >mobile operations in the High Frequency (HF) band (1.7-80 MHz)."
> >
> >
> >
> >----- Original Message -----
> >From: "Gunther Meisse" <gmouse@neo.rr.com>
> >To: "'Arthur H Feller'" <afeller@ieee.org>
> >Cc: <amsat-bb@AMSAT.Org>
> >Sent: Thursday, June 24, 2004 7:21 PM
> >Subject: RE: [amsat-bb] UTC nastygram on BPL
> >
> >
> > > I don't think they like us!!!!
> > > Regards,
> > > Gunther Meisse
> > > W8GSM
> > >
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: owner-AMSAT-BB@AMSAT.Org [mailto:owner-AMSAT-BB@AMSAT.Org] On
> > > Of Arthur H Feller
> > > Sent: Thursday, June 24, 2004 8:35 PM
> > > To: amsat-bb
> > > Subject: [amsat-bb] UTC nastygram on BPL
> > >
> > >
> > > rowser
> > >
> > >
> > > ----
> > > Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the
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> > >
> > > ----
> > > Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the
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> > >
> >
> >----
> >Sent via amsat-bb@amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
> >Not an AMSAT member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
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> ---------------------------------
> W0EEC - CM87tm
> AMSAT Area Coordinator - San Francisco Bay Area
> http://www.projectoscar.net    http://www.PlanetEmily.com
> http://www.experthams.net/ao7
> Help Launch Echo - http://www.amsat.org/amsat/sats/echo/index.html
> --------------------------------- 

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