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FEMA Opposes Broadband Over Powerlines 346

Curmudgeon Rick writes "According to eHam.net, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has put a submission to the FCC strongly opposing the use of powerlines for broadband distribution. The report can be found here [PDF link]. IMO, vendors should let powerline broadband die. They keep defibrillating it only because of the dollars they poured in; but it is and always was a dead duck." The submission concludes: "FEMA has concluded that introduction of unwanted interference from the implementation of BPL technology into the high frequency radio spectrum will result in significant detriment to the operation of FEMA [emergency] radio systems such as FNARS."
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FEMA Opposes Broadband Over Powerlines

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  • Commerical (Score:4, Informative)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) * <rghf@fsck.me.uk> on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:35PM (#7729025) Homepage
    Well there are commerical ventures in the UK which are selling broadband over powerlines

    news report [theregister.co.uk]

    Rus
    • in poland too..

      i don't have any links at hand though(and iirc it was used for the end distribution).
    • Re:Commerical (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ion Berkley ( 35404 )
      The difference in the UK I believe is that the actual bandwidth is being carried on fibreoptic that is strung on the same towers rather than down the actual transmission lines. So they are capitalizing on the real-estate value of the point-to-point corridors that the network of transmission towers creates. Frankly that makes a lot of sense to me. I don;t know the numbers for the UK, but the US has I suspect far more 'dark' (unusde) fibre already in the ground and hence there is probably less demand for long
  • Too bad though... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HMA2000 ( 728266 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:35PM (#7729029)
    It was a strange and most likely unworkable technology but I was looking forward to having a 3rd industry in the broadband game.
  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:36PM (#7729036) Homepage
    Afterall, the HAM operators have been saying that the test markets for the current set of BPL services were generating RF trash that could interfere with various longwave services since they resided in the same spectrum. Since this is all Subpart 15 stuff, they're probably going to get told to lower the emissions to practically nothing or don't do it.
  • Oh well.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by irokitt ( 663593 )
    This is sad, because there are still multitudes without regional access to DSL or cable. Satellite is expensive and still uses dial-up for upstream comm. And some of those who are still using dial-up have to deal with poor line quality and congestion. Power lines exist everywhere, and have the ability to bring high-speed access to a lot of people.
    • Re:Oh well.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by jhunsake ( 81920 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:41PM (#7729101) Journal
      Satellite is expensive and still uses dial-up for upstream comm.

      Yeah, five years ago it did. All satellite services now offer bidirectional satellite.
    • Re:Oh well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [0791uhcsm]> on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:44PM (#7729144)
      Moral of the story: If you want a fast internet connection, don't live in the middle of nowhere.

      Joking aside, a lot of the time it just isn't practical to get broadband out to people in certain areas. Besides sattelite (which is far from perfect, lots of latency and slow upload), it's really not worth it for these companies to put the infrastructure in place to serve the few amount of people that would use it.

      If they could make extremely-long-range wireless, though... I'd love to be able to just run around anywhere and have a constant high-speed monthly-charge connection to my laptop. Mmm....
    • Re:Oh well.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by strictnein ( 318940 ) * <strictfoo-slashd ... Do.com minus bsd> on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:45PM (#7729149) Homepage Journal
      Satellite is expensive and still uses dial-up for upstream comm

      Not true, they have two-way satellite connections. The up-stream is generally in the 64kbit range (so, about twice that of an average phone connection (which for the upstream ~32k))
      • The big problem with 'satellite' is that this currently means geosynchronous satellite. That is about 38000km away, which at the speed of light means a round trip ping time of 38000*4 (out to the satellite and back, twice).

        That's a about 0.5 seconds on top of what you would normally get with DSL (minimum ping time with DSL is about 20-40 ms).

        The bandwidth is fine; but 0.5 seconds is easily enough to be irritating. Still, if you've got nothing else, you'll survive, unless you're trying to play Quake III.

    • I could get wireless high speed internet if the FCC would just all people to use a higher powered transmitter.
    • Re:Oh well.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fatboy ( 6851 ) *
      This is sad, because there are still multitudes without regional access to DSL or cable. Satellite is expensive and still uses dial-up for upstream comm. And some of those who are still using dial-up have to deal with poor line quality and congestion. Power lines exist everywhere, and have the ability to bring high-speed access to a lot of people.

      Well, you have to ask yourself, would it be OK to pollute the rivers in your town so that people can have cheap and affordable DSL? Imagine no one being able to
  • Without looking into this too deeply, I believed that this was a great idea that only needed the proper amount of time to develop. Once again, it looks like I'm wrong. **** Look of astonishment on faces of all readers ****
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I am one of those who live in the country. No cable, No DSL, Satelite does not allow VPN access.

      I am screwed.

      I was hoping service by power lines might be useful, but I guess some idiots can't think that far. As mentioned before, what about the rural, backwoods people? Satelite does have upload and download by satelite, but VPN access is not possible.

      • Satelite does have upload and download by satelite, but VPN access is not possible.

        So you're saying that VPN is more important than the hobby of ham radios, their use during emergency situations, and general aviation?

      • Re:Well, I'm bummed (Score:2, Informative)

        by trentblase ( 717954 )
        You can do VPN over satellite... a quick google search [google.com] would show that.
  • interference. (Score:2, Interesting)

    I would have thought that the power lines themselves would generate much more interference than the data lines.
  • Pull the plug

    I mean, seriously. If there's all kinds of natural/unnatural disasters happening, let the Feds disconnect access until the crisis is stabilized.

    Some people may complain about freedom of the press or censorship, or some other fool thing, but when a crisis is unfolding I'm much more interested in getting information from the radio, shortwave, or scanner than I am about reading /.

    • How do the people in one location know when to pull the plug? Also you have the local people mad when they loss their net access because of an emergncy, that they belive has no effect on them.

      I could think about what people in a city in the US might say if they had their net access cut so that FEMA can take a call comming in from South America, the best solution is not to have people use something that would have to be pulled so that some one can recive a SOS.
    • The range of a ham radio broadcast is the entire world, and during an emergency, might be used for communications over ranges of a hundred miles or more. Are you advocating turning off broadband in several states every time there's an emergency?
  • of course (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:37PM (#7729052)
    Why use powerlines when you can use pigeons? [slashdot.org]
  • Interference? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ActionPlant ( 721843 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:37PM (#7729059) Homepage
    I really am curious. I can see the logic behind opposing interference, but I was of the impression that broadband would be transmitted at a very different frequency. If they do the math right, the waves really shouldn't interfere with each other.

    But I'm not as informed as I'd like to be. If they DON'T use powerlines (that's a lot of wasted money) what are our other options?

    Damon,
    • Re:Interference? (Score:4, Informative)

      by BagOBones ( 574735 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:49PM (#7729188)
      Microwave
      Here in Canada our population is spread out even more than than the US.
      We also seem to have the most high-speed internet options.
      There are Microwave based ISPs here that offer 2 way communication at 10Mbits /s making it faster than the ADSL and Cable options. These ISPs tend to service the outskirts of the cites. The service costs a little more than ADSL or Cable.
    • Re:Interference? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The problem is called frequency harmonics. For example, if you are broadcasting at 10,000MHz, there will be harmonics at 5000MHz, 2500MHz, 1250MHz, and so forth (cutting the frequency in half each time).

      The amount of energy on each harmonic is about half of the previous harmonic. From the previous example, if you have 50W at 10,000MHz, you probably have 25W at 5000MHz, 12.5W at 2500MHz, and 6.25W at 1250MHz.

      What certainly doesn't help matters is that power lines are electromagnetically unshielded, essen
    • BPL may be on a single, specific frequency, but power lines are a very inefficient method of transmitting high-frequency signals. The net result is that the broadband signal will end up spilling over much of the radio spectrum.
      • BPL may be on a single, specific frequency,

        Actually it's not one frequency, it's wideband garbage. If it was one frequency, it could probably be a workable system, but the bandwidth would be meager...

  • by rklrkl ( 554527 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:38PM (#7729063) Homepage
    In the UK, broadband-over-powerlines hasn't quite been abandoned yet - see the effort [hydro.co.uk] being trialled by Scottish Hydro-Electric. 30 quid a month for 1Mbit/s symmetric is a fairly competitive price compared to UK cable/ADSL prices, but one wonders if they have indeed solved all the interference issues.

    BTW, despite the pages looking like it's a done deal, they've only trialled it in two towns to date and have no availability checker on their Web site, so I'm not expecting this to be rolled out to a wider UK audience for quite some time yet.

    Oh, and the very obvious reason why this seeming dead duck is still being touted around is that rural UK users have neither cable nor ADSL. With satellite Internet being ludicrously expensive, this powerlines gubbins [if it works properly] might be the only way that those in the "country" can get broadband at a sensible price...

  • by mjt AG ( 725410 )
    Its good that FEMA advises against BPL (especially in a technical explanation). If the energy companies get their hands in broadband service . . . uh oh, we may see one of the biggest monopolies in energy.
  • by jlowery ( 47102 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:40PM (#7729088)
    will be the day they pull the power cable from my hot frying dead hands.
  • by cyril3 ( 522783 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:42PM (#7729105)
    the secret government of the USA. So what is the 'real' reason they oppose this. And what is the hidden link with the internation space-borne mind control laser system that even now seeks out independent thought and snuffs it out like

    ohh look at the pretty daisys. mummy where are you, i cant see you any more.

    mummy ... sniff

  • FNARS? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Spudley ( 171066 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:43PM (#7729124) Homepage Journal
    Fnars?

    Oh dear. Viz magazine has infected Slashdot! :-o

    (uh... appologies if you didn't get the joke - it's only going to be understood by the Brits...)
  • by utlemming ( 654269 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:44PM (#7729131) Homepage
    Looks like FEMA played the National Security Card. With all the things that have been said about BPL, this, I think is one of the most impressive reasons not to have BPL. But it does raise the question, in the event of an emergency which would require the use of the those frequencies, would the lines even be up? Then again, I can see that if it interfers with the Civil Air Patrol, it would be reason enough.

    • There are two ends to the radio communication. Generally, in a disaster communication, one end is outside of the disaster area. And that end is not going to hear the other if there is BPL around.

      Bruce

    • Well, one problem is that under many conditions the frequencies used by BPL can propigate over-the-horizon. That implies that BPL operations in one location could interfear with emergency communications (Red Cross/CAP/ARES/RACES operations in another area.

      In the event of an emergency affecting a large area, BPL operations might be taken out as well, as you said. However, since the frequencies might be unusable most of the time, the various agencies and organization which use those frequencies would not
  • by borjam ( 227564 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:44PM (#7729132)
    HF radio is *the* communication medium for many life-critical situations. It is the only affordable communication line for many NGOs operating in third world countries, and HF equipment is much easier to setup and more rubust than satellite equipment.

    Until now, the HF spectrum has been carefully regulated to avoid harmful interference. It is just not acceptable to sacrifice it simply to get a cheaper Internet access. There are a good set of broadband technologies available which almost do not interfere with HF users.

    Let's hope politicians wait to notice it until a true emergency happens...

    • Wouldn't those places where HF is the only viable communication medium be the same places where THEY HAVE NO POWER LINES?!? On the other hand, if they allowed broadband over power lines, wouldn't they have a more reliable communication medium, i.e. Voice Over IP over Broadband over powerlines?
    • Agreed, as a HAM radio operator I am very aware of the problems caused up BPL. It would basically kill any HF work, if it were to become widespread. Things are bad enough the way they are now.

      It would really suck ass if the next time I was out hiking or in a remote area and some emergency happened, and I needed to get out on HF that no one would be able to pick it up because of BPL.
  • FEMA (Score:4, Funny)

    by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:44PM (#7729143)
    I'm a ham and have been very concerned about the reports of spectrum polution from Broadband over Powerlines. But if FEMA doesn't like it, maybe it's not so bad after all.
  • Come on! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by El ( 94934 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:47PM (#7729169)
    I have a rural property that's too far from the switching office to get DSL, and they're not even thinking about running cable (but if they did, I'd have to pay ~$10,000 to run the cable from the property line to the house.) They're doing everything they can to discourage ISDN use (e.g. charging a $200 connection fee), and even POTS dial-up won't connect at better than 28.8. My viable choices for broadband are wireless or power line (I even have my own transformer). I wish they would hurry up and support one or the other. All the wireless broadband trials seemed to have concluded they couldn't make any money and have been discontinued. What are we supposed to do, all move to the city if we want decent internet access?
    • Re:Come on! (Score:3, Informative)

      Satellite.

      Yeah, latency is lame, but the speed is good.

      Alternately, find a friend who can get broadband and set up a WIFI link.
    • Alternative Idea? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by notcreative ( 623238 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @07:59PM (#7729874) Journal
      What are we supposed to do, all move to the city if we want decent internet access?

      The economics of rural service are very interesting. Right now everyone with a phone in the USA is paying to subsidize phone access to rural residents. It costs more money to service an area with a low populations density than an urban area. Fine, people need phones for safety reasons. Rural residents presumably subsidize services they don't need, like meth clinics.

      It bothers me when people start talking about subsidizing rural internet access, though. El says that "they're not even thinking about running cable" near his house, and that he'd have to shell out 10K$ to connect to said cable, anyway. I'm curious: who does he think should bear these costs? Everyone in the US?

      If people want to move to the middle of nowhere to get away from gangs, traffic, comedians, literacy, and culture, that's fine. It isn't reasonable to expect the same service level in the middle of nowhere that one enjoys in New York City, though. It's especially unreasonable to regard the acquisition of these services as a right. If you want to enjoy cheap services, then move to where it is cheap to provide those services. If you want to live in an area that is difficult and expensive to service, break out your wallet.

      El isn't necessarily making this argument, he just reminded me of the people I had to deal with when I worked in the rural NW.

      • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) *

        who does he think should bear these costs? Everyone in the US?

        Uh, Yeah! If the whole of America was one big city where do you think your food would come from? There are single farms in Australia that are larger than most European countries, but because they're run by a family of five they suffer from one-person, one-vote. Now, I'm a city-slicker and always have been, but I don't mind in the least bit if part of what I pay for infrastructure is used to subsidise the rural areas. I think $10,000 bills j

  • by bigberk ( 547360 ) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:48PM (#7729178)
    The RF spectrum is already heavily polluted, it would be nice to keep data transmissions off powerlines (each powerline acts as a huge antenna).

    Seems to me that you can still use the powerline infrastructure a bit for providing Internet connectivity. Why not run your fiberoptics alongside the power t-lines?

    Up here (Canadian north) there are some power utilities that are installing optical data lines on top of power lines anyway for the purpose of remote sensing & monitoring. Maybe a power utility could install extra fiberoptics while they're at it, use a small percent of the bandwidth for monitoring and sell the rest of the bandwidth to telecom for providing internet service?
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:52PM (#7729215)
    It seems that FEMA only uses a limited set of frequencies [aol.com]. Why not install notch filters at select access points and design the broadband to only use the remaining bandwidth (either in frequency space or via notch-resistant error correction protocols in the physical layer). The same could be done for ham radio users -- bandpass filtering outside the traditional X-meter bands used by SW radio operators.

    Broadband use of powerlines does not have to create a broadband noise source.
    • You are misunderstanding how interference works. Signal doesn't have to be on the exact frequency to interfere. There are always various harmonics, sidebands, and so on that get in the way. Furthermore, there's quite a bit of spill-over. You generally cannot filter this very well with filters because filters are good only up to a point. Any signal that leaks through the filter will cause enough interference to be a problem, and that's not even taking into effect all the harmonics and crap.
  • FEMA: "Broadband over power lines will interfere with radio... let's force everybody rural areas to use the only remaining alternative, wireless broadband, instead!" Anybody else see the flaw in this logic?
    • No not really but then I know something about radio.
      wireless broadband uses 2.4 or 5 Ghz. That is up in the microwave range. It will not interfere with the HF stuff the FEMA cares about.
    • So when your farmhouse gets hit by a tornado, you don't mind that there will be no way of contacting the outside world? That the ham radio operator trying to raise the emergency coordination center is having his signal squashed by the BPL system?
      • by W2IRT ( 679526 ) <pjd@panix.com> on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:08PM (#7729933) Homepage
        Ok, let's rephrase that then: wouldn't it make more sense to simply require broadband over powerline to not emit any significant energy in the HF spectrum?

        And while we're at it, let's require that the laws of physics be re-written by Congress! You just don't understand what we're talking about. Power lines are great for low-frequency AC (60 Hz power), but inefficient for higher-frequency signals.

        The proposed Broadband over Power Lines service would be a shared user of frequencies between 2 MHz and 80 MHz. Again, these frequencies wouldn't propagate as well over power lines, so they would be sent at high power levels. Much of their energy would be lost in the transmission from the upstream connector to your home -- i.e. radiated out the miles-long antenna formed by the power line! Simply put, you CANNOT have non-interfering BPL if it uses the 2-80 MHz spectrum. Period.

        FEMA and other governmental users' radios are scattered between typically 2 and 50 MHz in different sub-bands that are used depending on the time of day, how active the ionosphere is and the overall path of intended communications. Ditto for fixed services, land-mobile, aeronautical and marine services, beacons, short wave broadcasters and amateurs.

        The problem is two fold:
        1) anybody trying to receive a signal between about 2 and 80 MHz would be unable to do so.
        2) Legally-licensed transmitters in that range would cause untold interferance to these "Part 15" devices. Part 15 means they can't legally cause interferance and must live with any interferance they get. Aunt Millie's not going to be happy when her cordless phone is rendered useless by broadband and Uncle Phil will be pissed when he can't surf porn because the clean and licensed 1000 Watt transmitter up the block is on the air.

        This has to be killed and killed NOW.
  • some "solution" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Lynxpro ( 657990 ) <lynxpro@gPASCALmail.com minus language> on Monday December 15, 2003 @06:53PM (#7729241)
    Aside from the service issues in rural communities and the express desire for more competition in the broadband market, why would anyone want broadband via power lines? Its not like we have reliable power in the United States when you factor in all the surges and spikes our household electrical equipment experience on a daily basis. Do the powerline "modems"/adapters have built in surge suppression? Are they made of metal? Because if not, if a major surge goes through your house, the adapter would melt the plastic and set fire to your house. After all, that is how Reggie Jackson lost his classic car collection. And if power lines lose 33% of the electricity that is transmitted, what does that translate to in terms of data loss? Perhaps if the power companies wish to increase their profits, they'd invest in better cabling so more efficient power transmission would occur.

  • Now I have acronym headache.
  • by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @07:00PM (#7729319) Homepage Journal
    IMO the telco's and cable providers are probably more worried about this than anyone and they've probably filled FEMA up with all kinds of bull about what it might do to fema's spectrum.

    Of course the FCC should test anything and give it a license which means it cant interfere with anyone elses equipment and FEMA's equipment is supposed to accept any interference. Either way this story is moot and FEMA needs to get their own experts that are not paid by the opposition to formulate their own studies and opinions on the matter.
    • by Sleeper ( 7713 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @07:33PM (#7729673)

      I don't think so. IMHO, in case BPL would get accepted they'd just step aside and watch this thing to die and then they would take over the BPL customers.

      Iterference would be a huge problem fo HAM operators and everybody who use HF/VHF. But the thing is interference goes both ways. So I think if deployed in wide area BPL would just really really suck. You power line infrastructure was just not built to be protected from interference. Any kind of it. Even people with DSL have problem with intereference. And that's CAT3 UTP (in most places).

      So for telco and cable providers BPL will just awake an apetite of more people for broadband. If you ever had broadband (however bad it was) going back to dial-up is just painfull. Most of my firends who installed and had problems with DSL just switched to cable. I don't even remember anyone of them fireing up their dial-up modem ever again.

      As far as I remember for a long time ARRL was the only voice oposing to BPL.

  • Ok i live in upstate NY and two of the most recent events that would be needed for the emergency brodcast system (9/11, and the Black out this past summer) didn't use it !

    Not once was it used durring either event ! so basicaly they should have no say, its an outdated system that is never used anymore.

    Furthermore if there is such an emergency they could trip the broadband so it turns off so it won't disrupt their signal ...

    In anycase horid decision making done by idiotitic buerocrats, to even make a state
    • How do you know it wasn't used? IIRC, it was used in 9/11 as a means of communication for people. HAM during emergencies is not designed for everyone to use to make a phone call. Instead, it is used for emergency personell to communicate where they normally wouldn't be able to. For example, if the phones are out between HQ and a staging area, then HAM would step in and provide communications between the two. Plus, if you consider the amount of radio traffic that would have been going on at a single poi
    • Ok i live in upstate NY and two of the most recent events that would be needed for the emergency brodcast system (9/11, and the Black out this past summer) didn't use it ! Not once was it used durring either event ! so basicaly they should have no say, its an outdated system that is never used anymore. Furthermore if there is such an emergency they could trip the broadband so it turns off so it won't disrupt their signal ... In anycase horid decision making done by idiotitic buerocrats, to even make a s
    • This honestly surprises me.

      On 9/11, the Emergency Alert System as it is now called should have been used to communicate instructions to those in the attacked areas. It could even been argued that a National Security Warning should have been issued to alert those in critical areas nationwide. During the blackout, a Civil Emergency warning should have been sent out as soon as information about what it was and was not became availible. Instead, people huddled understandably afraid in the dark wondering what w
  • I was offered this (Score:2, Interesting)

    by deadline ( 14171 )
    Recently my neighborhood was offered this service (PPL [ppltelcom.com]) I had just signed up for a cable modem as we are too far out for DSL. I am not sure if anyone bought it though. I found it odd that they were charging for this since it was a "trial" and people were pretty sceptical.

    Of couse this is Pennsylvania, where we are all supposed to have already.

  • BPL FAQ (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goody ( 23843 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @07:14PM (#7729454) Journal
    Here [qrpis.org] or if that gets Slashdotted, here [qsl.net]

  • Doesn't matter... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OneFix at Work ( 684397 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:07PM (#7729929)
    The most likely evolution of broadband is cellular broadband being implimented on a wide scale once the majority of the UHF spectrum goes back to the FCC (currently sometime in 2007...I think)...

    The cellular companies will get a huge chunk of the old UHF spectrum, and most likely they will start going into the broadband ISP business. It only makes sense.

    As mobile technology becomes the norm (more and more ppl are using laptops) they will demand wireless connectivity. This has the 2-fold benefit of bringing affordable broadband to rural areas (99% of rural areas have cellular coverage...your little handheld phone might not get a signal, but a stationary antenna would)...as well as always-connect broadband for mobile computing...

    There's a new group of consumers that are just around the corner...these are the young kids (just getting into Jr. High right now) that have grown up with the internet and have never known a world without a computer with a global network connection. They are a lot like "geeks/nerds" in the way that they CRAVE information...they want to be connected 24/7 and they want it now!!! This isn't something that's going away and as soon as these kids start getting paychecks they're going to be driving the technology industry into new directions...
  • Dilbert (Score:3, Funny)

    by Adam_Trask ( 694692 ) on Monday December 15, 2003 @08:12PM (#7729975)
    Reminded me of my favorite Dilbert strip. It goes:

    The Boss (to Wally):
    Our competitors found a way to send broadband internet traffic over the power grid.

    The Boss (to Wally):
    I want to you find a way to send data over the sewer system.

    Wally (thinking):
    I thought i was already doing it.

    ----------
    Btw, i am curious. If only the text is reproduced (like i just did), is it a violation of the copyright? What if i told this to somebody?

  • FNARs? (Score:3, Funny)

    by NeuroManson ( 214835 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2003 @12:13AM (#7731706) Homepage
    Hmmm, from my MU* and IRC experience, that stands for "For No Apparent Reason". Sneaky!

    They could have gone for a Pinky and the Brain angle though, and just called it "NARF".
  • by ruiner13 ( 527499 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2003 @12:31AM (#7731820) Homepage
    IMHO, someone better EOL this BPL idea PDQ before FEMA gets PO'ed. OTOH, if this could somehow work in GNU or dare I say BSD as well as MS PCs, despite the dangers to FNARS, lets give it a try. Sure beats DSL to speed those TCP/IP connections.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday December 16, 2003 @01:36AM (#7732145) Homepage
    The head of FNARS, a FEMA employee, is Paul Reid, N4EKW.

    FEMA has a point, though. They've put in a nationwide HF network for emergencies that can stay up even if other communication systems go down. So if somebody does bring down the phone system, they have backup. Someday we might really need that.

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