ARRL enthused about new Motorola BPL technology
ARRL, the national association for amateur radio, expressed optimism that a broadband-over-power-line (BPL) system announced this week by Motorola will not generate harmful interference with 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 the advanced wireless team in Motorola special markets division of engineering.
This architecture design removes 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 ARRL spokesman Allen Pitts.
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 it [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 last year. Ensuring that Motorola was not identified with interference-causing BPL technologies was important, he said.
“When I heard that Motorola was going to develop a BPL product, I said, ‘We have a chance to do this well or this poorly. If we do it poorly, it could result in a lot of bad press,’” Illman said. “We wanted to avoid that.”
In addition to its interference-mitigation advantages, Powerline LV’s design also removes the need for multiple repeaters and wrap arounds along the MV wire leading to the pole–a significant expense in installation and maintenance for most BPL systems, Illman said. Instead, the Canopy system provides the broadband link wirelessly.
“So, it’s a very simple installation with one connection into the low-voltage wire,” Illman said.
Motorola announced that it is deploying a Powerline LV system with Broad River Electric in South Carolina. The ARRL evaluation of that system is scheduled to begin in June or July, Illman said.