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United States The Internet

Rewriting Rules on Delivery of the Internet 185

mathin writes "A recent NYTimes (free reg required) article states that, 'The Federal Communications Commission began writing new rules today that officials and industry experts said would profoundly alter both the way the Internet is delivered and used in homes and businesses.' Things under consideration: broad band over electrical wires and VoIP. A little thin on details, but interesting none the less."
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Rewriting Rules on Delivery of the Internet

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  • thank you google (Score:5, Informative)

    by tedtimmons ( 97599 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @07:53PM (#8264258) Homepage
    Here's the no-registration version, thanks to Google [nytimes.com].

    And don't forget Marc Majcher's nytview page [majcher.com]. It works well if you RTFM.

    -ted, waiting for the inevitable replies about "who cares if they require you to register!" and "big companies are evil!" and "who cares if it isn't goatse!"

    • by cshark ( 673578 )
      They've been talking about Internet over electrical wires since 96 when nortel started messing around with it in the UK. To date, I haven't been able to find any technical information on it at all. Souds like a good idea though. Imagine it, no one would ever be out of range again! Assuming it IS actually possible.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday February 12, 2004 @07:53PM (#8264262)
    let's translate this article into geek-speak:

    The FCC's talking about powerline broadband. Yeah, we're nowhere close to a commercial rollout yet, but at least the regulators are certifying that the plans won't cause massive harm to any other communications tech, so they're about to sign off on it.

    In totally unrelated hearings, Free World Dialup / Pulver.com (who we discussed yesterday [slashdot.org] seems likely to get the preemptive ruling they were asking for that they not be subject to the regulations that the Ma Bells wish the FCC would slap them with. That battle seems over for good.

    FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps has made his usual objections to deregulation and sided with the Ma Bells on the FWD issue, but as has been the trend recently, he was outvoted.

    Political types also gave typical quotes about the future of technology. None of which are very newsworthy, but the columnist still had a little space to fill even though he already combined two stories into one report.

    Please do not freak out. For those of you who were mislead by the headline to think that the FCC was debating the merits of IPv6 or something of the like, you can use the back button on your browser to go looking for a more interesting story on the home page now.
    • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:04PM (#8264381) Journal
      The FCC's talking about powerline broadband. Yeah, we're nowhere close to a commercial rollout yet, but at least the regulators are certifying that the plans won't cause massive harm to any other communications tech, so they're about to sign off on it.

      Have we just completely forgotten the problem of BPL totally killing HAM radio?

      Just [slashdot.org] some [arrl.org] background [arrl.org] information [arrl.org] for you to read [elecdesign.com].
      • Have we just completely forgotten the problem of BPL totally killing HAM radio? The NY Times most certainly has, and apparently so has the FCC.
        • Just to play devil's advocate, let's admit that are many more potential users of Broadband over Powerline than there are HAMs -- by at least one order of magnitude, if not more. A lot more people will benefit from gaining broadband than will be hurt by losing HAM frequencies. Isn't it the FCC's stated duty to allocate the EM spectrum in order to maximize the public's benefit from it? And, realistically, let's follow the money: there's no money to be made from HAM radio; there's a lot to be made from bro
          • by Goody ( 23843 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @11:48PM (#8266259) Journal
            Destroying a large portion of wireless spectrum is not justifiable because it benefits more people. There are many examples of this in society where reallocation of a resource would benefit more people, but it would be detrimental long term to the people and the resource itself. Right now, amateur frequency allocations belong to the people internationally. You can enjoy them by simply passing a test and getting licensed. Once they are given to a business interest, they cease to be yours and you can only use them as a customer of that business. BPL impacts other groups including government, military, shortwave, aviation, maritime communications, and CBers, so this would have national security and international implications as well. BPL has been linked in some rhetoric with increasing "homeland security". BPL in fact takes spectrum away from government agencies directly tasked with protecting the country. So in summary, allowing BPL will ultimately benefit a few utility companies, not the people.

            Users of the affected spectrum cannot be relocated, or at least not economically or in a timely manner, so this is not an option either. It would be cheaper for the government to subsidize cable and DSL deployment. Plus, all of the services that use HF bands require the characteristics that only HF bands exhibit. There would also be huge international treaty implications with any relocation. Changes in international communications treaties are measured in decades, not months or even years. Relocating government and military services alone would take years as the FCC would have to structure a migration plan. Chances are it would be ten years before this could be completed and it's likely that power companies will have run fiber to the home or DSL and cable will finally be ubiquitous. Perhaps the largest issue to tackle, though, is where to move these services in what is an already overcrowded spectrum.

            If it was determined that relocation was the way to go, this would be very irresponsible as HF radio bands are a unique natural resource. No other radio spectrum can provide worldwide communications without any supporting infrastructure (i.e. satellites).

            The FCC has indeed "followed the money" with this NPRM, that's for sure. They ignored computer models, field measurements, and around 5000 comments filed against BPL, and took the claims of one BPL equipment vendor, hook, line and sinker.
            • by tiger99 ( 725715 ) on Friday February 13, 2004 @01:27PM (#8270947)
              To add to these excellent comments, I would point out that in certain weather and sunspot conditions a decent radio receiver in the UK will pick up a great confused mass of gibberish, which is the summation of many US and other CB transmissions. Odd words and phrases can usually be discerned, but generally so many signals are being received simultaneously that there is no way of homing in on any one transmission.

              Given lots and lots of powerline comms in the US and elsewhere, the rms sum of (in this case inadvertently) radiated interference is likely to be much greater than a few thousand CB sets all transmitting at once. The point is that HF communications will be disrupted worldwide (not all the world all the time, but some of the world some of the time) by attempts at abusing power lines in this way. Those who are behind these schemes are either ignorant (probably true if they are managers, or software engineers), or are wilfully ignoring the ionosphere.

              Attempts have been made to use this technology in the UK, amateur radio and other things were wiped out locally, and doubtless at some great distance according to the prevailing conditions. I suspect that they measured interference up to some distance (a few miles?) from the source, and forgot all about the ionosphere. These tests also violated UK law about the amount of noise allowed on power lines (the signals are noise to legitimate spectrum users).

              This must be stopped, or a large part of the electromagnetic spectrum will be gone for ever. It is in any case a very inefficient way to provide data communications. any progressive regime would be insisting on running fibre optics to every home or office. In the UK, BT (who had money at the time, and were ready and willing to run a fibre into every home) wanted to do just that some years ago, but the vile Mrs. Thatcher, allegedly a scientist, blocked it because it would give BT a monopoly. True, it would have, for a while, except that it could easily have been handled the same way as BT's copper wires now, via FRIACO, where other providers can get access. Of course the vile old hag had insufficient imagination to forsee that possibility, and in any case where networks and other large physical things are concerned, a monopoly, at least in any locality, is necessarily much more efficient. We could have had fibre 20 years ago (BT led the way in low-loss fibre) but for a singularly incompetent and particularly vile old bag. (Technology moves on, but a fibre good for 100MHz or more would not need replacing for a long time, even if the bits on each end were upgraded from time to time.) The same nasty piece of work also legislated to prevent mast sharing by the mobile networks (anti-competitive....) although our BBC and independent TV networks, in fierce competition, had efficiently shared transmitter sites for decades.

              20 years later, I am still waiting, and have been for 3 years now, for NTL to make my cable TV bi-directional. They have done half the job, providing a digital set top (actually set bottom in most cases) box, with a network socket on the back, and increasing the rental, but they have not done the street cabinet or its links to the outside world yet. That evil old piece of malice has set the UK back about 20 years, almost as much damage as Bill Gates has done.

              The moral of all this is that politicians who profess to have been scientists or other similar professionals were in fact failures in their earlier carreer, understand less than nothing about technology, and are utterly unfit to make any decision about anything of real importance. I fear this issue will be decided by some similarly incompetent piece of nastiness (although in the US the Unelected Warmongering Retard is likely to be demonstrably unelected this time), and teh damage will be done.

          • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @11:49PM (#8266264) Homepage
            Just to play devil's advocate, let's admit that are many more potential users of Broadband over Powerline than there are HAMs -- by at least one order of magnitude, if not more. A lot more people will benefit from gaining broadband than will be hurt by losing HAM frequencies. Isn't it the FCC's stated duty to allocate the EM spectrum in order to maximize the public's benefit from it?

            BPL interference isn't reallocation of spectrum, it's just interference. It'd be one thing if they were saying "hams move to bands this, that, and TheOther", but they're not. They're just letting BPL walk all over the ham bands. Also, does the public benefit more from Yet Another Broadband Provider than it does from a free, volunteer-run communications system that has proven itself invaluable in emergencies year after year? I think not. This topic has been covered ad infinitum here on /. already.

            And, realistically, let's follow the money: there's no money to be made from HAM radio; there's a lot to be made from broadband over powerline.

            It's not the FCC's job to maximize corporate profits. If BPL were the ONLY way to get broadband to far flung areas, there might be an argument there but being that there's fiber, wireless, satellite, etc., there's no raitonal justification for steamrolling huge swathes of EM spectrum just so power companies can get in on the ISP game.

          • >A lot more people will benefit from gaining broadband than will be hurt by losing HAM frequencies.

            Yep, with broadband prices and slow adoption this is a great avenue that will re-start competition, especially when local monopoly telecoms decide not to roll out DSL because they didn't get the proper back-room deal. Here in Illinois, many of the wealthier suburbs (and other locales) are only now getting DSL because SBC wanted both local and long distance rights. Well, SBC got it recently (or is on the
            • by pyser ( 262789 )
              If it wasn't for the existence of amateur radio and the perseverance of hams through the years, we would not even know about the usefulness of HF frequencies (3-30 MHz). In the early days of radio, wavelengths of shorter than 200 meters (1500 kHz) were considered useless, but hams discovered that they can be used for worldwide communication with modest power and antennas. Eventually, government, broadcasting and commercial users moved in, but it was the hams who blazed the trail. And incidentally, HF radio
          • Just to play devil's advocate, let's admit that are many more potential users of Broadband over Powerline than there are HAMs

            Yes and no, but I'll start by explaining my prejudices.

            I'm in an area with no DSL, no cable modems, no EV-DO, no OFDM, and no ISDN, and no 802.11 provider can hit my house. In other words I'm screwed for broadband, but broadband over powerlines would probably work for me. I'm not a HAM. A few of my friends are HAMs, but not many. From a hobby point of view my use of broadban

      • All HF nets will be wiped out. CAP, MARS, and all other emergency nets will be gone. The FCC has totally and completely caved in to money interests. Whatever happened to the concept that the airwaves are "public?" The FCC just privatized the entire HF spectrum! And they are giving it away for free!

    • The FCC's talking about powerline broadband. Yeah, we're nowhere close to a commercial rollout yet, but at least the regulators are certifying that the plans won't cause massive harm to any other communications tech, so they're about to sign off on it.

      Eh? I thought it was fairly well established that all of the BPL schemes create massive radio interference in the HF bands (used for long-haul radio links, esp. emergency comms).
    • The FCC's talking about powerline broadband. Yeah, we're nowhere close to a commercial rollout yet, but at least the regulators are certifying that the plans won't cause massive harm to any other communications tech, so they're about to sign off on it.

      Depends what you mean by "commercial roll-out". It's commercially available [powerline-plc.com] in my area, though it's still a pilot program.
  • ..could bring High Speed Internet to the masses, since everyone has power lines. But what sort of equipment/distance requirements are there?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:10PM (#8264443)
      er... what about hacking?

      Can I just walk into an office somewhere, plug in my laptop (with BB over power adaptor) and wahey, I'm on the network?

      Imagine that - having to put firewalls on all your power sockets. I mean, it's essentially like having RJ45s all over your house/office isn't it.

      BB over power - hacking has never been so easy...
    • . . .since everyone has power lines.

      Well no, actually, they don't. There are those that generate their own power, and the numbers, while still small, grow steadily.

      That's taking for granted that they have electricity at all, since we're talking about computer usage.

      KFG
      • Broadband over electrical lines would do me no good since commercial power is not available here in the little town of Greenhorn, Oregon. I only just got telephone service three years ago, but should have DSL by summer. I generate my own power with a combination of solar and gas generator. Without the Internet, I'd have to live in the cities, but now I can telecommute and live anywhere I want!
    • I've heard it before. When I first heard about DSL, I had dial up and envied my friend who had the money for an ISDN line in his house. The hype was the DSL worked with POTS and since everyone has POTS, then everyone could have DSL.

      Not true by half.
  • Fuck off! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Doomrat ( 615771 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @07:55PM (#8264283) Homepage
    FCC: Let's see... we haven't quite ruined everybody's fun yet. Let's fuck with the Internet.
  • Powerline broadband? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The One KEA ( 707661 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @07:56PM (#8264296) Journal
    I didn't even though this was still a viable technology. I thought it had been discarded as one of those pieces of innovation that could have been useful but never truly was.

    If the FCC is writing rules for its use, that must mean that it is viable - why write rules for a dead technology?
  • Other sources (Score:2, Informative)

    by funny-jack ( 741994 )
    Other, no-registration-required sources can be found here [google.com].
  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @07:58PM (#8264319)
    When will people learn? The ONLY meaning of broadband is analog transmission (frequency division). The term "broadband" has nothing to do with speed.

    • by irokitt ( 663593 ) <archimandrites-iaur@ya h o o . com> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:02PM (#8264366)
      When I took my first networking class, they told us it was important the WE knew the difference, but that the general masses didn't make the distinction and that trying to correct the error of their ways was futile.
    • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:03PM (#8264374)
      Sorry, when people use a wrong definition too much, then the wrong definition gets associated with the word in the dictionaries and then becomes an acceptable definition.

      Bitrate and bandwidth have unfortunately become interchangable terms in common culture, even though us geeks know that there's a subtile difference.
      • I absolutely agree. Where I work we have a CISCO access server with T1s used for dialup access, it replaced some M$ RAS server about 5 years ago. I havn't been able to get one person to stop calling it a RAS server. Hell, they even call the RADIUS server a RAS server for that matter...
    • by SkewlD00d ( 314017 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:08PM (#8264429)
      Yet another case of neophyte biz-marketeers turning geek-jargon into bizwords. "Broadband" is only the width of the channel, "throughput" is more important. Also, "baud" is not necessarily a "bit" ("baud" is one packet of signal waveforms in linear combinations of FSK/PSK/ASK etc in a unit-time), etc. etc.
    • And no where in the article did they associate speed with broadband. The only thing close was

      "Officials said the new rules, which are to be completed in the coming months, would enable utilities to offer an alternative to the cable and phone companies and provide an enormous possible benefit to rural communities that are served by the power grid but not by broadband providers."

      Both cable and phone companies offer broad band signals, signals that operate over a broad range of frequencies.

      And according t

    • When will people learn? The ONLY meaning of broadband is analog transmission (frequency division). The term "broadband" has nothing to do with speed.

      Yeah, and "baud" doesn't mean "bps". Nor does "motor" mean "internal combustion engine". Furthermore, "screw" and "bolt" are not synonymous. Whaddya gonna do? The common man's vernacular must be accepted sometimes.

    • wtf (Score:5, Funny)

      by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@politMOSCOWrix.org minus city> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:26PM (#8264627) Homepage Journal
      I thought broad band was a group of chicks playing some tunes...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well, you were almost certainly wrong. In nautical terms, the only time a ship is "docked" is when it's in a drydock.

      That thing that sticks out into the water that the ship is tied up or moored to is a pier or maybe a wharf. It ain't a dock.

      Should those of us familiar with nautical terminology look down on those that aren't? That's what you're doing here. The meaning of the term "broadband" when applied in the vernacular sense to "internet service" is clear even if the usage not correct in the technical

      • Well, you were almost certainly wrong. In nautical terms, the only time a ship is "docked" is when it's in a drydock.
        In nautical terms, maybe. In traditional conversation, my friends Merriam and Webster say that "dock(ed)" is correct.
  • The FCC? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @07:59PM (#8264328)
    Are they going to ban boobs on the Internet too?
    • Are they going to ban boobs on the Internet too?

      I certainly wouldn't mind seeing ol' Darl banned from the internet for life.

  • by nicolasf ( 657091 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:00PM (#8264346)
    We always hear about delivering broadband over powerlines, and while it seems to be possible I thought the problem with wide scale adoption is the transformers that regulate the voltage delivered to your house. Personally I think wireless will be a much better solution. Just stick the access points in the existing cell phone towers, or is that too logical?
    • Wireless is a horrible idea for most situations. You can not achieve the throughput with wireless that you can with wired technologies. Thats not bringing into account security either.
      • That's just your paranoia talking. ;)

        I guess it depends on the vendor and/or technology solution you decide on (as an ISP). But aside from the inherient problems with 900MHz wireless broadband, I don't see how a 2.4GHz antenna on a house, talking to an AU on the ISP's tower location, can be accessed by someone that isn't authenticated on the ISP's network.

        Maybe it's good that I don't know.

        (waits for the inevitable semi-technical disinformation er, um, example)

        • by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @09:28PM (#8265196) Journal
          (waits for the inevitable semi-technical disinformation er, um, example)

          Okay, I hope you didn't have to wait too long...

          1. The 2.4 GHz band is crowded and going to get more so. What happens when half your neighbors have cordless phones in the 2.4 GHz band? Or worse, half of them have their OWN 802.11 b/g home networks, all competing for frequency and bandwidth with both yours and the ISP?

          Yeah, I know ... 5 GHz, etc. Rinse, repeat.

          Available bandwidth/bitrate on wired connections is many times that of wireless. The only thing wireless has going for it is convenience. Granted, that is a big plus.

          As far as security goes...once you authenticate to the ISP's network, usually via SSL/TLS, everything else is then sent in the clear. Most people are still clueless and don't bother with SSL-encrypted mail.

          In short, wired connections do provide a bit more security for the clueless masses whereas wireless takes that curtain away. That MIGHT be a good thing, making people PAY ATTENTION to security. However, I'm not going to hold my breath.

          -Charles Hill
          • What happens when half your neighbors have cordless phones in the 2.4 GHz band? Or worse, half of them have their OWN 802.11 b/g home networks, all competing for frequency and bandwidth with both yours and the ISP?

            Don't the ISP's that use wireless 2.4 utilize frequency hopping, instead of simple ranges?

            Available bandwidth/bitrate on wired connections is many times that of wireless.

            See, I know that to be true, but I can tell no perceptible difference in my wired T1 at the office, and a wireless 1.54/5

            • See, I know that to be true, but I can tell no perceptible difference in my wired T1 at the office, and a wireless 1.54/512 that I use also. What the eye doesn't see, I don't miss. Or whatever. ;)

              True. However, I just moved my home network OFF wireless to gigabit wired, simply because I move a lot of large files around locally and the wireless was killing me. I still have a WAP, mainly for the X-Box with the wireless adaptor and when friends come over with laptops.

              My new job has a DS-3 (10 Mbit) at the
          • Available bandwidth/bitrate on wired connections is many times that of wireless. The only thing wireless has going for it is convenience. Granted, that is a big plus

            That would be applicable on a classic copper twisted pair or fiber, but not so with BPL. The most you get is a raw 80 Mhz (Mb/s) of bandwidth. Once you consider noise issues, modulation, repeaters, usable frequencies, and a bunch of other factors, you're lucky to get 5 Mb/s on a BPL segment. 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz spectrum available to the publ
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:01PM (#8264354)

    I saw Scottland was considering running broadband using sewers. Now that crap is fast. We're not talking peanuts either, but fiber rich high throughput with full traffic shaping and end to end tapering.
  • First of all, isn't there home networking equipment like this that works horrible? This seems like just a larger scale of that. The type of quality needed to carry multiple frequencies can't be done on any type of wire, powerlines won't be able to cut it. This seems like a really bad idea, mostly the FCC trying to take on a role that it isn't.
    • Who says home powerline doesn't work? I use it in a 4500 sqft house with 40 y.o. electrical wiring and it works great everywhere. Even with a signal booster, my previous 11b wireless network only worked in 1/2 the house. Plus, my linksys WiFi crap never worked with anyone else's hardware, but all my powerline stuff plays together quite nicely...
  • How? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sheapshearer ( 746106 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:03PM (#8264377)
    Could someone please explain how a long (several kms) unshielded wire is different than an antenna?

    It would seem to me that transmitting "broadband" data, which will span a wide range of frequencies if it is going to be high-speed (and immune to noise), isn't going to just cause broadband interference?

    Cable modems get away because the cable itself is coaxial and thus shielded.

    Even most telephone wire is buried in the ground...

    But powerlines? I just don't see how it is going to work
    • Re:How? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Carnildo ( 712617 )
      Could someone please explain how a long (several kms) unshielded wire is different than an antenna?

      It would seem to me that transmitting "broadband" data, which will span a wide range of frequencies if it is going to be high-speed (and immune to noise), isn't going to just cause broadband interference?

      Cable modems get away because the cable itself is coaxial and thus shielded.

      Even most telephone wire is buried in the ground...

      But powerlines? I just don't see how it is going to work


      It isn't. BPL will
  • by fist_187 ( 556448 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:03PM (#8264379) Homepage
    am i the only one who cant tell if this is a win or a loss for consumers? please enlighten me!
  • Heres my question for all the law-people on /. - if the FCC decides to regulate VoIP, what happens if I start my own personal VoIP network? Must I be regulated too?
  • In a second set of proceedings, commissioners began considering what rules ought to apply to companies offering Internet space and software to enable computer users to send and receive telephone calls.

    So where is the open source project for this one?
  • by sulli ( 195030 ) * on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:15PM (#8264496) Journal
    Remember when every little press release advertised that something "would profoundly alter both the way the Internet is delivered and used in homes and businesses?"

    And remember what happened to these bright new ideas? (well, most of them?) Oh yeah, jack.

    So I wouldn't give much credibility to these either. VoIP and power-line internet aren't exactly front page news.

  • Query... (Score:3, Funny)

    by B2K3 ( 669124 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:22PM (#8264572)
    If our Internet is not delivered within thirty minutes, do we get it for free?
  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:23PM (#8264588) Homepage Journal
    So I read the headline and thought "So is the FCC putting out a declaration that GW Bush 'discovered' the internet?"
    What with it being an election year and all...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Mr. Copps also criticized the majority of the commission for rejecting a request by law enforcement agencies that the F.C.C. first work out the legal and technical problems in monitoring phone calls over the Internet before granting Pulver's application or considering new rules for the Internet-based phone services.
  • FCC Workshops (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZPO ( 465615 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:28PM (#8264649)
    Broadband over power line (BPL)

    Hmm where does this fall on the good idea scale? They are talking about running RF signals over miles of unshielded cable. NTIA filed comments strongly opposing it. This horse is dead before the starting gate even opens.

    BPL is being touted as bringing broadband internet to rural areas not served by DSL or cable modem. However, if you read the fine print you'll find that the signal can be pushed less distance then either (DSL/cable) technology. This means infrastructure overbuild costs will prevent it being deployed in anything but densely populated areas. The whole rural service thing is just a smoke screen.

    VOIP Regulation

    Its not broken so why does the FCC need to "fix" it? I can't find too many examples of government utility regulation actually improving things. The CALEA (Communications Assistance to Law Enforement Act) points are moot as a wiretap order would permit them to tap the IP service just as easily as the phone line. The main issue is that the telcos see that "consumers" will now become their own providers and they (telcos) will be pushed to irrelavancy in the long term. Change and adaptation come slower to telcos than it does the music industry.

    With any luck the FCC will deliver the coup-de-grace to BPL and keeps its fingers out of VoIP other than to declare IP end-to-end calls as outside the scope of regulation and IP to PSTN as only in regulatory scope at the point of interconnection to the PSTN.

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:32PM (#8264686) Homepage Journal
    So this sounds good..
    "Consumers will be able to plug their modems directly into the wall sockets just as they do with any garden variety appliance"

    ohhh yeah! Hackers thine evil bits shall meet the wrath of my toaster oven!!

    Will my floor lamp blink when my imClone stocks fall to $60 a share??

    Will I have to worry about a backdoor being installed covertly on my fridge and making my milk curdle?

    Will my George Foreman Grill become an open spam relay peddling viagra to all the braun shaver users worldwide?

    MY GOD MAN, HAVE WE NOT LEARNED ANYTHING FROM MICROSOFT PRODUCTS????? ...ohhh that's right... the spammers ARE the advertising companies looking for a new place to spam in the best interests of the consumer.

    So just how well should I trust the "secured" network interface of my BlendOmatic-2006XS 5-in-1 blender-oven?
  • by Back in Brown ( 586733 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:36PM (#8264711)
    As previously covered at Slashdot here [slashdot.org]... 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 [fcc.gov] and a FAQ on the objections (slanted towards the HAM radio operators) here [qrpis.org] 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.
  • FCC kills BPL (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    yea. Any service that has to accept interference, and shut down if it causes harmful interference is going to be a big money pit for ANY investor. Now is the time for anybody who's electric utility is thinking about BPL to tell them to give a big thumbs down to this worthless thechnology!!!

    http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatc h/ DOC-243879A1.pdf
  • by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @09:39PM (#8265283) Homepage Journal
    Ok so let me hypothesize and extrapolate here for a moment.

    FCC rules that "Pure VoIP that NEVER connects to the PSTN is not subject to 'the telecommunications regulations'. "

    One interesting implication of this ruling is that suddenly there's a significant benefit to VoIP providers to directly and transparently interconnect/interoperate their services.

    Instead of
    • Is it on My Network?
    • Else dump it to the PSTN
    style services, we could now see VoIP evolving to operate more like :
    • Is it on My Network?
    • Is it on the network of any of the VoIP services I 'peer' directly with?
    • Else dump it to the PSTN
    The industry already has (mostly?) functional standardised interfaces and interoperation between VoIP and PSTN, this ruling will strongly encourage true interoperability amongst VoIP providers, and transparent interoperability generally leads to competition on the basis of quality and services rather than purely on technology and customer-lock-ins.

    Now they just need to require that where the VoIP service interfaces with the PSTN they must fully support E911 and phone-number-mobility (ie like cell providers have recently been required) then you'd have a very fair and competitive environment encouraging strong growth in the both the Internet Service and Telecommunications industries.

    I mean seriously! In what way is a VoIP call that connects to a PSTN/legacy telecoms phone different to one from a Mobile Phone to a PSTN number? The only real diference is the medium of transmission (irrespective of the direction-of-calling, even).

    The "telecommunications regulations" really apply to the infrastructure. Many of the regulations specifically relate to "how can we ensure the infrastructure reaches ALL parts of the community in a fair and reasonable manner". If you *never* use that infrastructure, then many those regulations just plain make no sense, would imply double-billing (or even triple-billing) of fees or would be unreasonably burdensome.

    For example - VoIP over an ADSL customer.
    • telecoms fees apply to the physical line for the local phone company
    • internet service fees aply to the ADSL/Internet connection via the ISP
    • VoIP - so should the telecoms fees apply again?
    Now if that VoIP call connected across to the PSTN, then fees apply (ie at the point of connecting to the PSTN, telecoms fees apply to the connecting line - like always; any per-call telecoms fees would also apply, naturally).
  • by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @09:47PM (#8265354)
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Regulators agreed Thursday to set rules for telephone calls made online, and for technology to allow computer users to reach the Internet through a household electric outlet.

    The Federal Communications Commission said it would decide how to regulate calls made via high-speed Internet connections, which bypass at least part of the conventional phone network.

    Among the issues to be discussed is whether such calls should be subject to the same fees as regular telephone service, such for 911 emergency services or bringing telephone service to poor and rural areas, schools and libraries. Also to be decided is whether these new services need to pay fees to local telephone companies to complete calls to conventional phones.

    Separately, the FCC said it would later develop rules concerning law enforcement, such as making sure that the technology that allows Internet calls also allows investigators to tap and trace them.

    The commission also voted to develop rules that would allow the power lines that bring electricity to homes and businesses to also deliver high-speed Internet connections.

    Once a utility or a company it contracts with installs the necessary equipment, a computer user would only have to plug the machine into a special modem that plugs into a conventional electric outlet, according to Jay Birnbaum, vice president of Current Technologies, a company now testing such connections in the Washington suburbs.

    Even as it develops rules governing Internet phone calls, the commission decided that one such service, Free World Dialup, was not subject to the same regulations as regular phones. Internet users can join Free World Dialup at no cost and make calls to each other without using the conventional phones. They use special numbers to route the calls rather than 10-digit phone numbers.
  • Radiation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Loconut1389 ( 455297 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @09:58PM (#8265424)
    Aside from the sheer disturbance to the ham community and worldwide communications, as well as possibly satellite (and interplanetary someday?) communications, I dont like the idea of having gobs of RF coming from my power sockets. 60 cycle hum is bad enough, we're going to have to filter every audio component even more, as well as figure out how to rf protect our devices. some old and new stuff just wasnt designed to take rf directly into its components. Plus, electrocution now comes with fun burns, not to mention increased headaches for those of us who are RF sensitive to begin with. FCC should leave well enough alone.
    • every house will have a filter between it and the rest of the lines anyways, otherwise a "noisy" electric motor on your neighbors Old refridgerator would wipe out the signal for miles
  • POTS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chiph ( 523845 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @10:05PM (#8265475)
    If I were in the (highly regulated) business of selling local dial-tone, I would set up a subsidiary that just did TCP/IP networking over all the dark fiber in the US, and then sell VOIP over it. My marketing point would be "higher-quality connections with fewer drop-outs". A friend has Vonage, and while it works great off-peak hours, during lunch hours (when everyone at work is surfing instead of working), or if a big news story breaks, you can't understand him.

    Chip H.
  • by panaceaa ( 205396 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @10:10PM (#8265523) Homepage Journal
    This is great news! The FCC is looking into the future and seeing what great quality of life leaps will happen with Broadband-over-PowerLine. After 10 years of consumer Internet access, the next frontier for Internet connectivity is clearly the kitchen. There are unfathomable benefits to having toasters, blenders, and microwave ovens access the Internet. I see BPL as the way to provide that interconnectivity, without the downsides of other options:

    1) Giving kitchen appliances wireless cards: Lots of people have tried hacking their toasters to support existing 802.11b standards, but these hacks are overly expensive and don't work on a large scale.

    2) Redesigning and remodeling kitchens to have ethernet jacks: This will happen over time, but in the short run it's too expensive to retrofit existing homes. In addition, having to run a wire from a toaster to both a power and ethernet jack adds too much clutter to countertops.

    BPL has none of these detractions of the above options. Toasters and microwaves can be connected to the Internet as easily as they're plugged in to a power jack, and no kitchen remodelling is necessary. Clearly ham radio and emergency service disruption is a small price to pay for the overwhelming benefits of kitchen appliance interconnectivity.

    I applaud the FCC's forward thinking on in this area.
  • by Goody ( 23843 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @11:31PM (#8266144) Journal
    Just like with the mass media ownership rule changes in which the FCC ignored the facts and the public, clueless Powell did the same with BPL.

    The FCC cited adaptive technolgies as being able to mitigate interference. The truth is, adaptive technologies can't protect receive only stations because they don't transmit and can't assert their need for a clear frequency. It's likely that adaptive technologies will also be unable to recognize lower powered transmit stations.

    It's rather ironic the FCC met with a BPL equipment vendor in late January to discuss adaptive technology.

    One of the Commisioners stated that interference concerns were unproven. There has been models proving the interference potential and field measurements showing interference filed with the FCC. There's been no proof that adaptive technologies in BPL will mitigate interference.

    So the FCC doesn't stop BPL due to proven interference issues, and justifies continued deployment on a technology that hasn't been proven to work in the field or using common sense engineering. They essentially ignored 5000 comments filed against BPL and showcased unproven "interference mitigation" technology hyped by an equipment vendor.

    It's time that the boobs at the FCC are exposed, not at the Superbowl.

  • by Wansu ( 846 )


    Powell is signing off on a huge hash generator. Oh yeah, it's certified not to interfere with lord knows what. Looks like a grid of long wire antennae to me.

  • Pizza is delivered. Newspapers are delivered. I suppose TV programs are delivered. But the Internet is... connected.
  • SB QST @ ARL $ARLB005
    ARLB005 FCC okays BPL proposal

    ZCZC AG05
    QST de W1AW
    ARRL Bulletin 5 ARLB005
    From ARRL Headquarters
    Newington CT February 12, 2004
    To all radio amateurs

    SB QST ARL ARLB005
    ARLB005 FCC okays BPL proposal

    The FCC has unanimously approved a Notice of Proposed Rule Making
    (NPRM) to deploy Broadband over Power Line (BPL). The NPRM is the
    next step in the BPL proceeding, which began last April with a
    Notice of Inquiry that attracted more than 5100 comments--many from
    the amateur community. The FCC di

I consider a new device or technology to have been culturally accepted when it has been used to commit a murder. -- M. Gallaher

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