Thursday, August 31, 2006

Computing Unplugged weighs in on BPL

During this summer Computing Unplugged magazine, an online e-zine, has been covering the BPL vs Ham debate. While the editor of the magazine promised a fair and balanced discussion of this issue, it is quite obvious he is NOT a fan of ham radio or radio listening in general. It is quite obvious he is not qualified at any level to be writing about the downside of BPL and its impact on the radio spectrum. Unfortunately, his written words remain online. Truly journalism at its lowest level.

This debate was started by an interview that David Gewirtz, who is the Editor-in-Chief of the ZATZ magazines and the author of The Flexible Enterprise and Lotus Notes Revealed, contacted with a BPL industry insider! You can be reached him via email at Here are some of the lowlights from this individual who claims to be fair and balanced and a journalist.

"Who's funding the ARRL? Do the cable providers and DSL providers have an interest in this debate? After all, BPL is a direct competitor to cable modems and DSL services. Or is this truly the case of one technology interfering with another?

"Frankly, if it were just ham radio operators unable to play with their toys, this debate would be a non-issue. Ham radio is really a technology of the 20th Century. It was exciting back then when you couldn't call any country easily except with a ham radio. It was exciting when you couldn't talk to anyone when they were out and about unless they had an operator's license.

"But today, we have cell phones and Skype. We can talk to anyone, anywhere. And we can reach people all over the world merely for the cost of sustaining a broadband connection. Technology that can deliver broadband is, in Computing Unplugged's opinion, more valuable than ham radio as a hobby."

The thing that bothers me is he is assuming that the only service to get QRM from BPL is hams per se, since they are the major player fighting it. Although he mentioned a few others opposition comments in the FCC R&O, nothing was mentioned about our radio listening hobby. As most of you know BPL is not just a ham issue, but it is detrimental to the entire spectrum from the VHF lo band down into HF.

As part of this debate Fred Stevens, K2FRD/VO2FS posted this to the Ham DX Chat newsgroup:

My article in Computing Unplugged magazine on Broadband Over Powerline vs. ham radio (and everyone else who uses the HF and lower VHF airwaves) was published today. I wish I had more than the three days I was given (I normally prefer three months) to polish it, research and document more of my statements, maybe tone down some of the rhetoric a little, and add some qualifications to make it more technically accurate and, hence less subject to criticism. Not my best effort, but it'll do. Nevertheless, I'm honored that my letter was chosen for amplification and publication from the hundreds submitted. The article: .

For those who aren't aware of it, Computing Unplugged dedicated its entire summer series to the BPL controversy and, after "fair and balanced" reporting, arrived at the conclusion that BPL in its present form needs to be scrutinized very closely before extensive future deployment and CU ultimately gave ham radio a generally positive and supportive review in the BPL battle.

Complete index of all twelve CU BPL articles including one from Allen Pitts W1AGP, ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager, also published today: .

Computing Unplugged homepage which does NOT index all the BPL articles:

For those seriously concerned about the future of ham radio as potentially affected by BPL, I encourage you to read the entire series of articles. If you are a radio listener of the HF or VHF low band spectrum, then this is a must read at Computing Unplugged magazine.