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FCC passes rules to support broadband over power lines

But commission will keep a close eye on reports of interference.
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Written by ZDNet Editors, Contributors on
The FCC Thursday gave a boost to a technology that would provide broadband Internet over power lines (BPL) by unanimously adopting an order by reaffirming and clarifying rules first created in 2004, News.com's Anne Broache reports.
The original guidelines focused on preventing the nascent Internet service from causing harmful interference with radio signals that rely on nearby frequencies, such as those commonly used in aviation and in zones near U.S. Coast Guard and radio astronomy stations.

The latest order (PDF) clarifies the original rules and rejects appeals from TV broadcasters and the aeronautical industry to prohibit BPL at specific frequencies. There's not enough evidence of interference, the FCC said.

Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps said he believed the order strikes an "acceptable balance" but warned that the FCC would continue to keep a close eye on complaints about interference. "This applies with special force to amateur radio operators whose skills and dedication once again proved so valuable in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," he said.

Four of the five FCC commissioners said they'd had a chance to see BPL equipment in action during a recent field trip to Texas. Republican Commissioner Deborah Tate said she has been continually "struck by the impact this technology could have on reaching our goal of ubiquitous broadband deployment in the United States."

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