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Broadband Over Power Lines Gets Government Push

The FCC Thursday unanimously approved tweaks to its rules intended to spur the rollout of broadband over power lines (BPL).

Currently there are about 50 BPL operations in the development or testing stage.

The commission denied broadcasters' request to limit BPL's power to below 50 mHz during the transition to digital, and amateur radio operators' request for various limitations until the FCC gets a better handle on potential interference to their service.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said he was glad to see "nonduopoly pipes delivering broadband," referring to the current choice between cable and telephone braodband for the vast majority of households.

Pulled from the agenda of the FCC's Thursday public meeting was classifying BPL as an information service.

New Commissioner Robert McDowell said he hoped the new rule changes would help "drive down prices and foster innovative technologies."

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin pointed out that four of the five commissioners had been on a field trip to see PBL in action and said it was critical to spur the technology.

While the FCC is setting new technical standards for BPL, it grandfathered for one year existing technology for supplementing existing systems or replacing defective equipment.