Thursday, March 25, 2010

RSGB Challenges UK Ofcom Regarding Home Powerline Telecom

For the first time, the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) has directly challenged the UK's Office of Communication (Ofcom), regarding its technical standards and regulatory policies in the matter of home power line communication (PLA/PLT) interference to licensed radio services.

In a letter written to Ofcom Chairman Colette Bowe, over the signature of RSGB Director Donald F. Beattie, the RSGB gives a detailed response to Ofcom's official statement made last September. RSGB takes issue with some of the Ofcom assertions in the September statement, and asks for clarification in a number of other areas.


"Ofcom believes the electromagnetic disturbance produced by this technology is an inevitable by‐product of its operation and not attributed to poor design or manufacturing."

We disagree ‐ there is poor design involved here. The trade‐off between headline data rate and emission level is wrongly set. It is only an inevitable by‐product of its operation if that operation is aimed at transmitting an unreasonably high data rate.


Emissions are an inevitable consequence of an unsuitable technology.


Our underlying concern is that the invaluable asset of the radio spectrum is being progressively sacrificed to allow a polluting technology to flourish, based on the mistaken argument that there is public good involved. Arguments are being mustered to support this strategy, which have little or no basis in fact. We see the inevitable consequence of the current policy as being the consignment of the High Frequency Radio Spectrum to history. Once this has happened, it will not be possible to reverse matters. International standards exist to provide for sensible coexistence of services, and the RSGB contends that the setting aside of such standards for expediency is not in the long‐term public interest.

The full text of this letter, with plenty of numbers, cites, and technical details, is available at the RSGB web site. One can also find details regarding the RSGB Spectrum Defence Fund.

Expect this controversy to heat up. Due to the ever-higher data speeds required in new broadband plans, manufacturers of next-generation PLT units are using much wider RF bandwidths, well into VHF. It's not just about HF any more.