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Articles

FCC Affirms and Clarifies Access Broadband over Power Line Rules

November 2, 2011

Articles

FCC Affirms and Clarifies Access Broadband over Power Line Rules

November 2, 2011

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The FCC has largely affirmed its rules for Broadband over Power Line (BPL) Internet access systems and devices (Access BPL), although the Commission did make minor modifications to clarify certain provisions. The modifications to the Access BPL rules will become effective 30 days after Federal Register publication, which has not yet occurred.

Access BPL systems deliver high speed Internet and other broadband services over utility medium-voltage delivery power lines to homes and businesses. Access BPL devices can also be used to monitor and manage various elements of utility electric power distribution operations for Smart Grid applications.

In 2004, the FCC adopted rules for Access BPL systems, including technical standards, operating restrictions and measurement guidelines to minimize instances of interference to licensed services and to facilitate resolution of such interference where it might occur. In 2009, in response to a federal court remand, the FCC placed into the public record unredacted staff technical studies and certain additional staff research materials that the FCC relied on when it first adopted its Access BPL rules in 2004. In a Second Report and Order, the FCC concludes that the record developed in the proceeding does not warrant any changes to the emission standards or the extrapolation factor for Access BPL systems.

The FCC approved the following minor changes: (1) it increased the required notch filtering capability for systems operating below 30 MHz from 20 to 25 dB, but grandfathered existing systems and adopted an 18-month transition period for equipment manufacturers; (2) it established a new alternative procedure for determining site-specific extrapolation factors; and (3) it adopted a definition for the “slant-range distance” used in the BPL measurement guidelines to further clarify its application. The FCC also encouraged interested parties to provide the Access BPL database manager, UTC, with information to ensure that its records are accurate and up-to-date.

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