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Summary:

Say whatever you may about Jeff Pulver, the guy knows how to spin the media cycle. Today’s decision about FCC on Free World Dial-Up is going to boost a lot of interest in his upcoming VON show. What it also will do is raise the profile […]

Say whatever you may about Jeff Pulver, the guy knows how to spin the media cycle. Today’s decision about FCC on Free World Dial-Up is going to boost a lot of interest in his upcoming VON show. What it also will do is raise the profile of his company, Pulver.com. I think that FCC gave a favorablg ruling to FWD is a great thing, and not just for VoIP people. Had that not been the case, well the Beltway Bandits would have considered regulating email, video streams and god knows what. They left the Internet data streams (does not matter what application data it was) alone and that is a good thing.

However, I think this FWD has been played up too much. For instance, it would not be an issue if Pulver himself had not taken it to the FCC. (Spin Cycle – Phase One is to draw attention!) The most critical issue which is buried in the most stories is the PowerLine Broadband Regulation. I think IDG News comes the closest to explaining this in a clear and coherent manner.

bq. The FCC on Thursday voted to move forward with a process to measure interference caused by broadband over power line service. Broadband over power lines – often called BPL – delivers high-speed Internet access using near ubiquitous power lines, but some licensed users of radio frequency spectrum have complained that BPL interferes with their signals.

bq. Commissioners touted BPL as a potential competitor to digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable modem service. With power lines nearly everywhere, BPL could provide broadband access to places not served by cable or DSL, FCC chairman Michael Powell said. “It really has the potential of being the great broadband hope for most of rural America,” he said.

I agree for once with Chairman Powell. I think this is another broadside at the current broadband providers – the DSL and Cable companies. I think these two conduits need to figure out a coherent pricing and bandwidth structure. I for one would like to see DSL simply go away. At least the current version of micro-DSL. BPL is a good way to increase broadband options, and create real competition. It will force all parties to think in terms of more realistic and consumer friendly broadband business models. Hey that is just my opinion.

Perhaps the threat of competition in the broadband business is going to stop Brian Roberts from falling into the Mouse Trap.

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  1. The Federal Emergency Management Agency submitted comments to the FCC stating their desire to not see BPL go into widespread implementation. Apparently it interferes with high frequency radio transmissions which are used by FEMA and others (think HAM radio operators). You can see FEMA’s comments at http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_document=6515292045 and a FAQ on the objections (slanted towards the HAM radio operators) at http://www.qrpis.org/~k3ng/bpl.html

  2. Forgot to add that in these post-9/11 times, it will be interesting to see who wins, Dept. of Homeland Security and their paranoia over infrastructure or the free-market wheelers and dealers at the FCC who think regulation is for the birds.

  3. Radio interference was a theoretical model that simply hasn’t proven out to be the issue that the ARRL presented it to be. The FCC proposals aside, there are curently working systems both in Europe, known for its stringent enforcement of RF frequency problems, and here in the US.

    Here are three representative test sites one of which is already city-wide in Scotland, and two working in the US right now. None of them have, as touted by the ARRL, lost AM frequencies and shortwave.

    Any problems they may cause will be remedied immediately, but I foresee any mistake as being touted as an “I told you so” by ARRL members that went online to say it would not work, and now have a siginificant emotional investment in seeing that it doesn’t.

    My feeling is one of shock that the ARRL, a group of people with technical expertise and engineering know how above and beyond the average citizens, has sunk so low as to stop at saying why it can’t work, instead of showing how it can.

    The ARRL has a history of service to the country and its citizens, and now seem to be under the influence of the Telephone and Cable lobbies. Shame.

    Powerline broadband access can become the final mile for all of the currently underserved. Just like the ARRL provides that service in times of emergencies along with the national security entities, historically, for the rest of us when we can’t communicate.

    Folks who take the position today of saying that it can’t be done, are constantly being interrupted by those who just do it.

    So take a visit to these websites and ask them if their emergency services are running around in a panic, or their AM signals are gone.

    http://www.powerline-plc.com/newsreleases/City_Of_Manassas_Utility_Connection_11_03.pdf

    http://www.currentlink.com/currlnk/index.htm
    and in the UK this one.

    http://www.hydro.co.uk/broadband/

    However that is not why I am posting.

    I see the PLC initiatives as the only way to get rural areas connected at broadband speeds. And most folks see the government initiatives, and then wonder why that last mile never gets any closer.

    Do you know who is responsible for Telecommunications and rural utility services for all of Rural America? Not the FCC, but the USDA. Yep, their Rural Utility Services division.

    Go here:

    http://www.usda.gov/rus/index2/welcome.htm

    Surprised?

    Now go here to the last article about grants to provide Broadband to rural areas and tell me that all of that money might go a lot further for PLC services than one town at a time.
    http://www.usda.gov/rus/

    Folks, when a train is coming you only have two choices. You can get run over trying to stop it, or you can get on board.

    My concern is that the Powerline companies are going for only cities thus far, and may just decide to stay within the parameters of the profitable top 50 markets, much the same as the Telcos and the cable companies have done.

    Perhaps the PLCs should be subsidized for their rural operations first, and then be allowed to compete in the cities.

    Failing that, all I see is a repetition of the short term gain, leave the rural folks out in the dust, and put out a few million in grants to make it look like something is being done.

    How best do you think the country and all its citizens can be served?

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