FCC promotes power line broadband

Federal Communications Commission officials issued rules today that likely will boost the use of broadband-over-power-line technology by municipalities and rural regions that have had difficulties in attracting more mainstream broadband providers.

The new rules list technical and administrative requirements meant to ensure that broadband-over-power-line equipment and operators do not create interference with other communications devices. The guidelines also are meant to provide for timely resolution for problems when they occur, the FCC said in its report and order on the new rules.

Although an increasing number of authorities have been jumping into broadband-over-power-line to provide their local constituents with broadband Internet access, commission officials acknowledged that concerns exist, principally from current licensed radio users, that broadband-over-power-line could cause significant interference problems. However, after extensive research and analysis, FCC officials said they concluded that those concerns can be adequately addressed and that broadband-over-power-line systems should be able to operate successfully under the model rules they have adopted.

Commenting on the need for the new rules, FCC Chairman Michael Powell and Pat Wood, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said that ubiquitous broadband deployment is important to the country's economic, educational, social, medical and cultural welfare. Access BPL, the umbrella term the FCC has given for broadband-over-power-line systems, provides "an opportunity to increase the competitive broadband choices that are available to customers and power supply system management options of utilities," they said. Officials at both commissions will monitor experience with Access BPL to ensure that existing regulations do not stifle the development of the nascent technology, the chairmen added.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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