Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the
This is a summary of the Commission's
Pursuant to §§ 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using: (1) The Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), (2) the Federal Government's eRulemaking Portal, or (3) by filing paper copies.
• For ECFS filers, if multiple docket or rulemaking numbers appear in the caption of this proceeding, filers must transmit one electronic copy of the comments for each docket or rulemaking number referenced in the caption. In completing the transmittal screen, filers should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing address, and the applicable docket or rulemaking number. Parties may also submit an electronic comment by Internet e-mail. To get filing instructions, filers should send an e-mail to
Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although we continue to experience delays in receiving U.S. Postal Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
• The Commission's contractor will receive hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary at 236 Massachusetts Avenue, NE., Suite 110, Washington, DC 20002. The filing hours at this location are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.
• Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
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Filings and comments are also available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours at the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. They may also be purchased from the Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone: (202) 488-5300, fax: (202) 488-5563, or via e-mail
1. This Request for Further Comment and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), addresses certain issues from the Commission's Report and Order on rules for broadband over power line systems and devices (
2. The unredacted staff technical studies have been placed into the record of the proceeding and the Commission is requesting comment on the information in those studies as it pertains to our BPL decisions. The Commission is also placing into the record certain additional materials that contain preliminary staff research and educational information and were not previously available therein. In response to its remand of a portion of the BPL measurement procedure, the Commission is also providing an explanation of our reasons for selecting 40 dB per decade as the extrapolation factor for frequencies below 30 MHz. The Commission further explains why it believes that the studies and technical proposal submitted earlier by the ARRL do not provide convincing information that we should use an extrapolation factor that is different from that which was adopted. The Commission also notes the existence of more recent studies that verify the correctness of our determination, although we do not rely on those studies as
3. Consistent with the opportunity provided by the court's remand and the Commission's stated intention in the
4. In the
5. Subsequent to the release of the
7. The Commission has several staff working papers and video files that contain data and information on research from BPL field tests that were used in preparing the staff studies and
8. ARRL filed a petition for reconsideration of the Commission's decision to use 40 dB per decade as the extrapolation factor for frequencies below 30 MHz. In support of its argument that an extrapolation factor of 20 dB per decade should be used, ARRL also submitted, through
10. ARRL's proposal for a sliding scale extrapolation factor referenced a 1996 CISPR Standard. This standard, which was published in 1996 well before Access BPL was developed, evaluates radio noise generated by high-voltage converter power stations and similar high-voltage installations and discusses methods on how to reduce radio noise from inherent power line components, such as mercury arc and thyristor valves. ARRL pointed to a graph in the standard, Figure 17, which shows calculated values of the field strength attenuation of emissions from a vertical electrical dipole antenna as a function of the distance on a horizontal plane for different frequencies. Based on this graph, ARRL then proposed a formula which effectively constitutes a sliding-scale calculation for an extrapolation factor that varies with frequencies.
11. In the period of time since the Commission's adoption of the
12. Consistent with the Commission's stated intention in the
13. The Commission is also mindful that the Court has ordered that it provide a reasoned justification for retaining the 40 dB per decade extrapolation for Access BPL systems or adopt another factor and provide reasoning, and specifically remarked that the Commission did not offer an explanation for dismissing the technical studies and technical proposal for an alternative extrapolation submitted
14. The Commission also recognizes, however, that there can be considerable variability in the attenuation of emissions from BPL systems at individual measurement sites, although NTIA's modeling results do not generally indicate that differences are expected to be typically as high as the 15 to 20 dB for an underground system such as was observed in the Winchester Study. To address this variability, the Commission is requesting comment on whether it should adjust the extrapolation factor downward to 30 dB or some other fixed value and also specify and allow use of a special procedure for determining site-specific BPL extrapolation values using
15. The Commission is requesting that interested parties submit additional comment and information on the BPL extrapolation factor and on our proposal to modify the value specified for that factor and to alternatively allow use of special procedure for determining site-specific BPL extrapolation values. Such comment and information should
16. In explaining our reasoning for adopting 40 dB per decade as the extrapolation factor value for BPL emissions, it is important to understand that this is a measurement protocol (or “tool”), not an adjustment to the emissions standard. The Commission first observed that a concern in the BPL proceeding was that BPL systems are not traditional point-source emitters. Rather, they could act to some extent in a manner similar to line source emitters that would radiate along the power lines, and, therefore the emissions from these systems would not attenuate in the same manner as a typical point-source emitter. In addressing this concern in the
17. The Commission also observed that NTIA's earlier BPL computer simulation modeling as reported in the Technical Appendix to its June 2004 comments showed results indicating that the attenuation in field strength of emissions from BPL systems with distance from the power line is consistent with the existing distance extrapolation factors for unlicensed devices in § 15.31(f)(1) and (2) of the Commission's rules when used with the slant range to the power line. No party offered analysis or argument to dispute NTIA's results. These simulation results were conducted using the widely recognized and employed National Electromagnetic Code (NEC) software for analyzing radio propagation. Although, the Commission does not rely on NTIA's more recent Phase 2 simulation results to justify its earlier decision, the Commission noted here that those results indicate that the attenuation at individual locations can be expected to vary around the standard 40 dB value with frequency, configurations of line arrangements on poles, and other site-specific characteristics. The Commission is aware that measurements of the emissions from BPL systems at different distances will vary, but cluster around the 40 dB per decade factor. As the NTIA simulation results show, this variation is to be expected when measuring emissions below 30 MHz from points near the ground at distances close to a source of emissions.
18. While the Commission recognizes the potential value and importance of empirical data with respect to this issue, there were no significant studies that examined the very large number of measurements that would be needed to address the different site characteristics that affect the attenuation of emissions below 30 MHz. In this regard the studies submitted by the ARRL in its 2005
19. The Commission specifically observed that only two of the studies (the Winchester Study and the Crieff Amperion Study) collected data relevant to the extrapolation factor. In addition, those two studies each report only a few measurements on a small number of operating frequencies along a single perpendicular path each at two small and very dissimilar BPL installations (one underground and one overhead) on power line configurations which may not be representative of power line configurations in the United States. In order for a study to provide statistically significant information on the attenuation of BPL emissions in the close vicinity of power lines and to adequately include signal conditions under different configurations of power lines on a pole or underground installations, a much larger body of empirical data at sites with varying configurations of power line attachments to poles and differing site characteristics would be needed. Moreover, such samples would need to demonstrate that they are conducted on power distribution systems representative of those found in the U.S.
20. Second, the RF propagation environments in which BPL emissions are measured can affect the results such that results from a given site may not be characteristic of the general rate at which BPL emissions attenuate. The measurements in these two studies were taken near the ground (as are measurements BPL emissions under our measurement procedure), where the field strength of radio signals, and particularly those below 30 MHz, is typically affected to a significant degree by reflections and absorption by the ground, nearby vegetation, vehicles, structures, measuring equipment, equipment stands, and even the positions of the persons making the measurements. Of particular importance in this context are the presence and configuration of other power lines in addition to the power line to which the BPL device is attached and of metallic structures and vehicles. Because of the effects of these factors, the field strengths of radio signals emitted at the same power level will often vary significantly when measured near the ground at different locations that are the same distance from a source. Thus, in order to obtain empirical data from which general conclusions about the attenuation characteristics of Access BPL emissions may be drawn, it is necessary to have a very large number of observations from different BPL installations and from different locations at those installations. The small number of observations provided by the measurements in the Winchester and Crieff Amperion studies is not sufficient to form a basis for establishing a value for the extrapolation factor.
21. The Commission notes that even at the two installations examined in the OFCOM studies, the data describe that the electromagnetic field attenuates at different rates. In addition, the data does not even appear sufficient to determine whether the type of BPL technology and architecture made a difference in the field attenuation rate. Moreover, OFCOM itself recommends that “[d]uring the course of future PLT leakage emission measurements, further work is undertaken to confirm this finding elsewhere. The Commission saw nothing in the studies submitted by the ARRL that would warrant selection of a different (lower value) extrapolation factor.
22. With respect to its proposal for a sliding scale extrapolation factor, the Commission observed that the ARRL did not provide an explanation as to how its formula was derived or how to
23. Accordingly, the extrapolation factor adopted in the
24. In reviewing the BPL extrapolation factor, the Commission intends to seek new information and studies, including those with empirical research, and to consider new approaches for the extrapolation that could use a lower value for the attenuation rate of emissions. Looking at new information, shortly after the release of the Commission's
25. The Commission also observes that, like OFCOM in the United Kingdom, the regulatory agencies of other countries are testing BPL systems as part of the international forum's discussions on BPL technology. The recently released study from the Federal Republic of Brazil reports results that show attenuation of emissions from BPL that is greater than the 40 dB per decade extrapolation factor, which indicates variation on the other side of the results found in the OFCOM studies. Here again, the amount of data collected is relatively small. The Commission believes that the information in the NTIA Phase 2 and Brazil studies, when viewed in light of the NTIA's Technical Appendix and the OFCOM studies taken together not only provide validation for our previous conclusions selecting 40 dB per decade as the extrapolation factor, recognizing that there will be variation around that value at individual locations, but also inform our further consideration of this matter.
26. There may be other new studies of the attenuation of BPL emissions with distance. The Commission requests that interested parties provide additional empirical information and studies regarding the distance extrapolation factor for use in measurements of emissions from Access BPL operating below 30 MHz. Such information and studies will be most useful if they are compiled using the FCC measurement guidelines and cover various BPL technologies that operate below 30 MHz. The data should also cover the different operating frequencies of BPL emitters in their typical deployment configurations and the field strength attenuation at these frequencies. Access BPL systems from which data is collected also should be representative of power line configurations (underground and overhead) and current BPL network architectures in the United States.
27. The Commission also observes that the slant range distance in the measurement procedure works with the 40 dB per decade factor to yield extrapolated measurement values that have the effect of imposing a more conservative emissions standard than would be derived if using the horizontal distance from a power pole. In this regard, at relatively short distances,
28. The Commission observes that while 40 dB per decade continues to best describe the attenuation rate of emissions from BPL systems, there is also considerable variability around that value at different sites. The result of this variability is that the actual attenuation at some sites could be less than 40 dB per decade and using the current extrapolation factor at such sites could produce an adjusted measurement that would be less than the signal that would be measured at the standard 30 meter measurement distance specified in § 15.209. The Commission requests comment on whether it would be desirable to modify the value of the BPL extrapolation factor to be 30 dB per decade or some other value. This lower value would apply a more conservative approach that would compensate for those cases where the actual attenuation is less than 40 dB. While the Commission does not have statistics that indicate the distribution of cases where the attenuation rate is less than 40 dB per decade, it believes that the additional margin provided by a 30 dB standard would encompass a large number of such cases. A 30 dB standard would also substantially reduce the remaining differences in under-adjustment of measurements at locations where the attenuation rate might be less than 30 dB per decade. The Commission further notes that extrapolated emission limits based on our proposed 30 dB extrapolation factor
29. The Commission recognizes that reliance on a 30 dB per decade extrapolation factor could increase the compliance burden for BPL equipment and systems that are tested at locations where the attenuation rate is in fact greater than 40 dB per decade. The Commission, therefore clarifies that in all cases measurements of BPL equipment and systems may be made at the 30 meters distance specified in § 15.209 and that where possible, the Commission's staff will make measurements at this distance when testing for compliance. Further, to provide manufacturers and system operators the opportunity to use a higher extrapolation rate at locations where they believe the attenuation rate is higher than 30 dB per decade, the Commission is also considering allowing parties testing BPL systems for compliance with the radiated emissions limits to determine distance correction factors on a site-by-site basis using an
30. The Commission requests comment on the suitability of an extrapolation factor lower than 40 dB per decade and the
31. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 as amended,
32. Consistent with the opportunity provided by the court's remand and the Commission's stated intention in the
33. The Commission proposes to amend part 15 of our rules to adjust the extrapolation factor downward to 30 dB for Access Broadband over Power Line (BPL) systems and, as an alternative, also allow use of a special procedure for determining site-specific BPL extrapolation values using
34. This action is taken pursuant to Sections 1, 4, 301, 302, 303(e), 303(f) and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 1, 4, 301, 302, 303(e), 303(f) and 303(r).
35. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and, where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted.
36. Nationwide, there are a total of approximately 27.2 million small businesses, according to the SBA.
37. The proposed rules pertain to manufacturers of unlicensed communications devices. The appropriate small business size standard is that which the SBA has established for radio and television broadcasting and wireless communications equipment manufacturing. The Census Bureau defines this category as follows: “This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing radio and television broadcast and wireless communications equipment. Examples of products made by these establishments are: Transmitting and receiving antennas, cable television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile communications equipment, and radio and television studio and broadcasting equipment.”
38. The FNPRM does not contain proposed new or modified information collection requirements.
39. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.
40. In this FNPRM, the Commission proposed to modify its rules and measurement procedures for Access BPL to specify the use of a 30 dB extrapolation factor and, as an alternative, to allow parties testing BPL systems for compliance with the radiated emissions limits to determine distance correction factors on a site-by-site basis using an
42. Pursuant to Sections 1, 4, 301, 302, 303(e), 303(f) and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 1, 4, 301, 302, 303(e), 303(f) and 303(r), the Request for Comment and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making is hereby adopted.
43. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Request for Comment and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.
Communications equipment, Radio.
For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR Part 15 to read as follows:
1. The authority citation for part 15 continues to read as follows:
47 U.S.C. 154, 302, 303, 304, 307 and 544A.
2. In § 15.31 redesignate paragraphs (f)(3) through (f)(5) as (f)(4) through (f)(6), and add a new paragraph (f)(3) to read as follows:
(f) * * *
(3) For Access BPL devices operating at frequencies below 30 MHz, the results shall be extrapolated to the specified distance by using an extrapolation factor of 30 dB/decade. Measurements may be performed at a distance closer than that specified with the radiated emissions limit in § 15.209 of this part; however, an attempt should be made to avoid making measurements in the near field. The distance correction to the emission limit for measurements on overhead power line installations shall be based