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FCC Boosts BPL, Irking Amateur Radio Operators

The Federal Communications Commission issued an order Thursday endorsing broadband over power lines (BPL.) The Memorandum Opinion and Order stated the FCC would also maintain safeguards against interference, but early reaction from some ham operators questioned whether the FCC action will be effective in sorting out interference issues.

The memo specifically "denies the request by the amateur radio community to prohibit BPL operations pending further study and to exclude BPL from frequencies used for amateur radio operations." The most vigorous opposition to BPL has come from ham operators, who claim BPL interferes with ham radio spectrum.

Noting that Thursday's memo generally reaffirms of the BPL rules it established in October 2004, the FCC said it will take "appropriate action" if harmful interference occurs.

"In my opinion, the FCC didn't say much of anything in the memo," said George Tarnovsky, a ham radio operator in Manassas, Va. "We've been complaining for four years now and everything is still up in the air." Tarnovsky is an official of the Ole Virginia Hams, an amateur radio club with more than 100 members.

The early battleground for BPL is being fought in Manassas, which inaugurated a citywide BPL deployment
last October.

BPL provider Communications Technologies (COMTek) maintains the Manassas installation will be a model for BLP, which it envisions as providing competition to cable broadband and DSL.

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