Broadband over power lines

The US FCC has adopted changes to Part 15 of its rules to encourage the development of Access Broadband over Power Line systems while safeguarding existing licensed services against harmful interference.

As part of its goal to promote access to broadband services, the US FCC has adopted changes to Part 15 of its rules to encourage the development of Access Broadband over Power Line (Access BPL) systems while safeguarding existing licensed services against harmful interference.

Access BPL is a new technology that provides access to high speed broadband services using the largely untapped communications capabilities of the nation’s power grid.

Specifically, the FCC has set out rules imposing new technical requirements on BPL devices, such as the capability to avoid using any specific frequency and to remotely adjust or shut down any unit as well as establishing ‘excluded frequency bands’ within which BPL must avoid operating entirely to protect aeronautical and aircraft receivers communications.

There are also ‘exclusion zones’ that have been established in locations close to sensitive operations, such as coast guard or radio astronomy stations, within which BPL must avoid operating on certain frequencies.

By facilitating access to BPL, the FCC aims to increase the availability of broadband to wider areas of the US because power lines reach virtually every home and community. And in those areas where consumers already have broadband access, the FCC hopes to encourage competition by providing another broadband alternative.

Access BPL will also facilitate the ability of electric utilities to dynamically manage the power grid itself, increasing network reliability through the remote diagnosis of electrical system failures.

Part 15 rules impose RF emissions limits on a wide variety of devices including TV sets and radios, personal computers and peripherals, and electronic toys.