The Amateur Radio Relay League expressed optimism that a broadband-over-power-line, or BPL, system announced last month by Motorola will not generate interference harmful to amateur-radio operations.

Dubbed Powerline LV, the solution represents Motorola's first product in the BPL space. Whereas most BPL systems require the broadband traffic to travel solely through the electric grid, Powerline LV uses Motorola's high-speed wireless Canopy system for backhaul to the electricity pole or pad-mounted transformer, from which the signal is sent to the house via the electrical wiring, said Dick Illman, a member of the advanced wireless team in Motorola's special markets engineering division.

This architecture design eliminates the need for the broadband signal to travel over the medium-voltage (MV) wires that link substations to transformers. Radiation from BPL-enabled MV wires is the primary source of interference for amateur-radio operators, said Allen Pitts, ARRL spokesman.

Low-voltage (LV) wires used to serve homes from electrical poles do not create as much interference as MV wires, and Motorola has taken other steps to mitigate interference, including the use of Homeplug home-networking technology and a device that blocks signals from entering amateur-radio frequencies, Pitts said.

“We're not ready to endorse it yet, but we are absolutely very encouraged by it,” Pitts said. “Amateur radio operators were never against any technology; we're against interference. If there's no interference, we're all for [BPL].”

Motorola's Illman, a 35-year amateur-radio operator, said his company has been working with ARRL to help design a solution that would not introduce the interference that amateur-radio operators have opposed so vehemently during BPL trials in the U.S. during the past year. Ensuring that Motorola was not identified with interference-causing BPL technologies was important, he said.