What is BPL / Powerline Communication all about?

Powerline Communication - or BPL, PLC or PLT as it is called for short - is nothing else but the use of the local powerline infrastructure for data transfer, e.g. a fast internet access primarily.
While there is nothing wrong with trying to get a fast and cheap access to the internet - even without having to worry about where to put all the new cables as one uses the ones already at hand, e.g. the powerlines - these proposed fast BPL/PLC/PLT systems have quite horrible side effects on other communications, primarily those using the radio frequencies in the AM broadcast bands as well as on the HF short wave bands.
These radio spectrum allocations are the only ones that do permit international as well as local communications by radio without having to worry about being beyond the line of sight as well as not having to worry about a certain satellite or radio relay station to be available.
These so called HF bands are of great value for governmental, militray, emergency as well as commercial communications by radio, least to mention private and amateur radio usage. In case of an emergency – be it a natural disaster or a terrorist attack – BPL/PLC/PLT use of this RF spectrum will well be able to render it non-usable, thus stripping the public off what uses to be the only resource available for relief communications in many instances then..

What is the trouble with fast PLC/PLT?

The trouble with BPL/PLC/PLT usage is that powerlines were not thought of to transfer high speed data in the first place. Forcing them to do such a high speed data transfer on these rather bad choice powerlines needs to put the signal on them. High speed means use of quite a broad spectrum of frequencies for that purpose. And there you are: Here the very troubles and problems arise ! As powerlines are not screend to prevent radiation, they rather happen to do just that - and they are quite good antennas to transmit all the hash, causing heavy and detrimental interferences to radio reception on the HF and AM bands. An inescapable result of BPL/PLC/PLT!

Can HF radio services and PLC/PLT coexist?

Whatever you are being told by those who would like to put PLC/PLT on your powerlines: The basic and true answer to that question is: NO !!!
Just at about the year's changing from 2004 to 2005, the Austrian telecommunications agency issued a binding order against BPL/PLC/PLT provider Linz AG, telling that company to either adjust their powerline communications system to no longer create ANY harmful interferences to legitimate HF band radio users or to close down altogether! Basic reason in doing so was, that measurements taken by the authority at the site gave sound proof that the powerline communication network there was the real and only source of the harmful interferences reported by local HF radio users. More detailed information about this is available at http://www.oevsv.at , (infos are in German though, look for the PLC part of their sub-pages).

How does that PLC/PLT spoil radio reception?

In Europe there have been quite a few "test sites" where BPL/PLC/PLT has been made available.
Radio amateurs and broadcast listeners investigated the effects of BPL/PLC/PLT on their radios and were alarmed in many ways. Even the promise from BPL/PLC/PLT vendors and companies that there would be no such effects were well off the center of facts - or plainly untrue to put it into brief words...


Thanks to the Austrian amateur radio organization OEVSV two video clips have been made available that should make you know all about the dirty hash effects of PLT/PLC spoiling the environment:
BPL/PLC/PLT Video Clip No. 1:
This video clip shows the bad effects BPL/PLC/PLT testing in the rural southern Austrian town of Fulpmes did have on HF radio reception. Not too technical but it does give you a very good general impression.
To get the clip just click here:
BPL/PLC/PLT clip no. 1
You will need to have Windows Media Player installed on your PC to view it.
BPL/PLC/PLT Video Clip No. 2:
This video clip is more technically and does show interferences to HF radio reception as well as measurements of the emitted noise (hash) spectrums. All those who rather prefer to view the true facts on a spectrum analyzier besides seeing the environment and hearing the hash coming out of the speaker of a radio set should download this one.
To get the clip just click here:
BPL/PLC/PLT clip no. 2
File size is about 4.8 MBytes and you will need to have Real Media Player (preferably versions 6 or up or RealOnePlayer) installed on your PC to view it.
Both above video clips are copyrighted by OEVSV and allowance has been given to this web site's author to present them here. Besides the conditons set in the video clips themselves any further usage should be negotiated with OEVSV as the copyright owner who is the responsible authority for the clips presented here.
Viewer programs mentioned above are registered trademarks and subject to the laws applicable.
A very broad platform of BPL/PLC/PLT related and inflicted problems is also provided by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Readers located in the USA may learn about where BPL/PLC/PLT is known to be operating in the USA as well as what FCC and radio users are being up to. While the problem is slightly different from country to country, BPL/PLC/PLT's main interference creating potential does not differ significantly. “Global players” appear to try to swap the whole globe with that radio communications interfering stuff, just turnig a blind eye to technical and physical realities – or pretending to be able to change the basic rules of physics! As there is no explosion without a big bang coming along with it, there is no BPL/PLC/PLT system that comes along without a lot of harmful interferences to the radio services.

The problem of “Face-Keeping”...

Present roll-out of BPL/PLC/PLT, mushrooming in many places, has a lot to do with “face-keeping”. It appears to be that not just a few but quite a bulk of politicians were “screwed“by BPL/PLC/PLT proponents: Always looking for an “innovative” label that could be used to sail under to gain more public interest in the media, these folks took BPL/PLC/PLT to be the banner suitable. Nobody worried much about the details that might come along with that “new technology”. They should have. Now that bad effects of this “new and innovative technology” have surfaced, and all of a sudden the “useful” label to sail under has become a burdon, a kind of a tricky trap. “Face-keeping” therefore is the topic of the day now, leading to mitigate the problems – and to telling the public these problems could be solved with BPL/PLC/PLT still suitable. One wonders what those folks did do when at high school – at least they appear to have be “off” when physics was to be learned according to the then time-tables. And now it seems that the public has to suffer from those folks that try “to keep the face” after having made a wrong decision...
Anti Powerline Communications Initiative
c/o Martin Hengemühle, DL5QE
Siemensstr. 48 d
D-48153 Münster
email: [email protected]