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BPL Pilot Takes Off

By Gary Stigall
Chapter 36 Chairman
Chief Engineer, XETV Fox 6
July 27, 2005

San Diego Gas and Electric last week invited a small group of user representatives to a meeting last week at its Kearny Mesa offices to introduce us to their Broadband over Power Line (BPL) pilot project. SDG&E engineer Terry Snow will interface with users overseeing spectrum measurements before and after installation and finally after data modulation. They plan to keep the pilot system going for one year in the vicinity of corporate offices in Kearny Mesa. More precisely, the powerlines surrounding their facility at Kearny Villa Road and Century Park Court and going east along Tech Way from Kearny Villa Road to a condo complex east of the SDG&E campus. The utility expects to modulate the pilot system by the end of August.

While shortwave ham and emergency services radio operators clearly could be impacted by a BPL installation in their neighborhoods, the impact on broadcasters is expected to be much less. The bands used in the pilot project are limited to 2 to 38 MHz. FCC Part Auxiliary service users in the 26 MHz band may have an interest in this project.

SDG&E has taken a relatively open approach to its testing. Members of the pilot observation team include California Office of Emergency Services Assistant Chief John Hudson, ARRL member Jim Stevenson, and representatives of cable TV and county communications. I volunteered to observe the pilot project measurements for the broadcasting community, with particular interest in the 26 MHz Broadcast Auxiliary and 82-88 MHz Channel 6 TV bands. Terry Snow says that they will require complete compliance with FCC Part 15 regulations (as amended to make way for the introduction of BPL). Concerned local broadcasters can read updates on measurements on this website, or contact Terry or me for more information. Terry can be reached at (858) 654-1296. An SDG&E BPL webpage has outlined parameters of the project to answer the FCC posting requirement.

Incumbant spectrum users wishing to measure "before and after" noise levels should contact Terry to coordinate those measurements for time and location. Communication can avoid the very unscientific case of measuring a line that is unexpectedly turned on or off or has parameters changed for any number of reasons.