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Published on March 19, 2008

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Broadband over Power line and its effect on emergency services:  Broadband over Power line and its effect on emergency services Ron LaPedis, CBCP, CISSP, ISSMP, ISSAP Radio Amateur Extra N6QGK When All Else Fails . . . Amateur Radio Attribution:  Attribution The material in this presentation comes from USA and Canadian sources. However, BPL is being proposed with similar specifications in many countries. Radio waves do not stop at city, state, provincial, nor country boundaries. Background:  Background Hertz – Basic unit of frequency in cycles per second – Humans can hear frequencies from 20-20,000 Hertz MHz – 1 million Hertz High Frequency (HF) – 3-30 MHz Very High Frequency (VHF) – 30-300 MHz Ultra High Frequency (UHF) – 300-3000 MHz Wavelength (λ) – The distance between one peak of a wave and the next. λ = c / f where c = 299792458 m/s (speed of light in a vacuum) Background:  Background The lower the frequency, the longer the antenna needed to send and receive it All things being equal, lower frequencies (longer wavelengths) travel longer distances but do not penetrate buildings as well as higher frequencies. HF needs little infrastructure for extended distance communications It is also easier to transmit lower frequencies at higher power Background:  Background Radio amateurs talk about ‘frequency bands’ by wavelength, not by frequency, hence 20 meter band, 40 meter band and so on. F = (299792458 m/s)/20m = 14.9 MHz Actual is 14.0-14.35 MHz Background:  Background Background:  Background Many public safety radios use VHF Trunking radios use UHF (800 MHz) California Highway Patrol uses HF (29 MHz) Aeronautics/Marine use HF + VHF ‘Shortwave radio’ uses HF HF communication makes use of the most important property of the frequencies between 2MHz and 30MHz; the ability to establish and maintain communications over great distances without any intervening man made infrastructure. Background:  Background Don’t power companies send data over power lines already? Yes, Power Line Carrier (PLC) is used for command and control but it is narrow-band low frequency (100 to 180 kHz) and low speed. Current BPL is wide-band and uses 2.46 to 38 MHz. It offers 1-3 mBits/sec to the end point. Broadband over Powerline diagram:  Broadband over Powerline diagram Slide10:  Broadband over Powerline interference paths BPL INTERFERENCE PATHS:  BPL INTERFERENCE PATHS Near field component Less than 10 wavelength distance (~70-1200 m) Can only be reduced by shielding Radiated component More than 10 wavelength distance Can be reduced by good transmission line technique (but power distribution lines are NOT good transmission lines). RADIATED FIELD :  RADIATED FIELD HF/VHF Users:  HF/VHF Users HF Users:  HF Users Broadcast:  Broadcast Aviation:  Aviation Amateur Radio Service:  Amateur Radio Service Marine and Land Mobile:  Marine and Land Mobile FCC Notice of Inquiry:  FCC Notice of Inquiry On April 28, 2003, the FCC released an NOI requesting comments and reply comments on primarily technical issues regarding BPL. The FCC sought information and data on the relevant technology. In addition, the FCC sought comment on whether it should change the part 15 rules, 47 CFR § 15, to allow for the legal and feasible deployment of BPL. American Public Power Association:  American Public Power Association ‘Given the tremendous potential of BPL to provide an advanced technology that utilizes additional facilities based mechanisms for providing services the burden should be imposed on challengers to BPL to demonstrate interference in a fact based, empirical proof.’ APPA (cont.):  APPA (cont.) Further, to the extent that interference is demonstrated, there should be an attempt to accommodate BPL, even if it means that existing communications providers may have to share or transfer bandwidth.' BPL Is Regulated by FCC Part 15:  BPL Is Regulated by FCC Part 15 Carrier-current must meet limits for intentional emitters Non-interference stipulated in part 15 Manufacturer responsible for FCC authorization and maximum limits Operator responsible for harmful interference Both are important to mitigate possible harmful interference Harmful Interference:  Harmful Interference Defined as the repeated disruption of radio communications or any disruption of certain emergency communications services From broadband device (BPL) will interfere with entire band(s)! Will occur for entire length of line in areas where access BPL is deployed! Potential Spectrum Loss:  Potential Spectrum Loss BPL Could Interfere With::  BPL Could Interfere With: Emergency management National Guard US Coast Guard U.S. Military Fire Departments Law Enforcement CAP FAA FEMA NASA Voice of America TV stations Low Power FM Broadcast Stations BPL Could Also Interfere With::  BPL Could Also Interfere With: Radio astronomy Amateur Radio services Disaster communication networks Land, fixed, mobile services Military Affiliate Radio Systems (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force) Citizens band A Power Line:  A Power Line Is unshielded Is an antenna! It can transmit …and receive! A power line and an antenna:  A power line and an antenna An Amateur Radio Station:  An Amateur Radio Station Is licensed by the FCC Has access to various portions of the RF spectrum from 1.8 MHz thru 250 GHz Transmits as much as 1500 W Receives weak signals Worldwide Problem:  Worldwide Problem BPL was extensively studied in Japan and rejected Trials continue in Europe Multiple interference complaints have been documented Organizations Voicing Concern About BPL Interference :  Organizations Voicing Concern About BPL Interference US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) National short-wave listener associations Short-wave broadcasters Electronic-equipment manufacturers GE Medical Aeronautical The Consumer:  The Consumer Consumers probably will not be aware of the documented interference potential Early subscribers may be subjected to needless system problems due to the deployment of technology that has yet to be properly tested Hams and emergency communications at risk FEMA comments:  FEMA comments BPL could “severely impair FEMA's mission-essential HF radio operations in areas serviced by BPL technology.” BPL also could render such “essential communications services” as the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) and the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) useless. FEMA (cont.):  FEMA (cont.) FEMA said, “there's no current alternative to HF in terms of meeting national security and emergency preparedness requirements at the national, state and local levels.” National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Comment:  National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Comment “Notwithstanding BPL’S Potential Benefits, The Commission Must Ensure That Other Communications Services, Especially Federal Government Operations, Are Adequately Protected From Unacceptable Interference.” NTIA’s Latest Filings:  NTIA’s Latest Filings Rejects the idea of BPL ID Excludes some freqs for aeronautics Coastal station exclusion zones Coordination areas around National Radio Quiet Zones No other protections are mentioned! Canadian Magazine TCA:  Canadian Magazine TCA BPL Interference compared to other Broadband access technologies:  BPL Interference compared to other Broadband access technologies DSL: Tightly-coupled differential transmission line minimizes radiation. Coax: Fully shielded transmission line minimizes radiation, Fiber: Completely optical, ZERO radiation Wireless: Uses dedicated microwave frequencies not shared with other licensed services—interference minimal Future of BPL:  Future of BPL Limited bandwidth, further constrained by chopping out slices due to interference The spectrum is what it is, can’t grow more spectrum. Power lines will not sustain microwave transmission, so BPL has finite, limited BW Cable, wireless and particularly fiber have far greater bandwidth growth opportunity, without interference to other licensed services. Interference both IN and OUT will lead to a lot of unpredictable service calls How you Can Help:  How you Can Help If you are a radio amateur Join your country’s radio society if you are not currently a member If you are a public safety official Make contact with your national disaster management and radio licensing commissions Radio Amateurs (hams) help recovery efforts:  Radio Amateurs (hams) help recovery efforts 9/11 Hurricanes Tsunamis Earthquakes Chemical leaks Train derailments Blackouts How hard is it to get a ham license?:  How hard is it to get a ham license? What can hams do?:  What can hams do? Communications relating to Health and Welfare Property We cannot communicate about anything relating to business What can hams do?:  What can hams do? Business Turn your security radios over to the business and fill in with amateurs Public safety Augment your communications with amateurs Many PS systems are not interoperable Infrastructure could be down Hospitals, shelters, other deployments More Information :  More Information http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/ http://www.rac.ca/regulatory/plc.htm http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/part15.html Video:  Video Ed Hare is the Lab Manager for the ARRL. Ed drove to BPL trial areas in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia to document possible interference from BPL. This video is available on the ARRL web site.

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