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Broadband Over Power Lines

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Released: April 12, 2012
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
April 12, 2012

DA 12-588

Small Entity Compliance Guide

Broadband over Power Line Devices

Second Report and Order
FCC 11-160
ET Docket Nos. 04-37 and 03-104
Released: October 24, 2011

This Guide is prepared in accordance with the requirements of Section 212 of the
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. It is intended to help
small entities—small businesses, small organizations (non-profits), and small
governmental jurisdictions—comply with the new rules adopted in the above-
referenced FCC rulemaking docket(s). This Guide is not intended to replace the
rules and, therefore, final authority rests solely with the rules. Although we have
attempted to cover all parts of the rules that might be especially important to small
entities, the coverage may not be exhaustive. This Guide may, perhaps, not apply
in a particular situation based upon the circumstances, and the FCC retains the
discretion to adopt approaches on a case-by-case basis that may differ from this
Guide, where appropriate. Any decisions regarding a particular small entity will
be based on the statute and regulations.

In any civil or administrative action against a small entity for a violation of rules,
the content of the Small Entity Compliance Guide may be considered as evidence of
the reasonableness or appropriateness of proposed fines, penalties or damages.
Interested parties are free to file comments regarding this Guide and the
appropriateness of its application to a particular situation; the FCC will consider
whether the recommendations or interpretations in the Guide are appropriate in
that situation. The FCC may decide to revise this Guide without public notice to
reflect changes in the FCC’s approach to implementing a rule, or to clarify or
update the text of the Guide. Direct your comments and recommendations, or calls
for further assistance, to the FCC’s Consumer Center:

1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)

TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)

Fax: 1-866-418-0232

fccinfo@fcc.gov

Broadband over Power Line Devices

Compliance Requirements

1. Objectives of the Proceeding
The Commission adopted rules in 2004 (affirmed in 2006) to permit Broadband over Power Line
(BPL) devices to operate under Part 15 of the rules, adding specific technical and administrative
rules to protect licensed users from any BPL radio frequency (RF) emissions that radiate from
power lines. To provide this protection, the BPL rules include radiated emission limits, notching
requirements for certain frequencies, avoidance of operation in certain geographic areas, and use of
a database system in case of interference caused to licensed users.
In the Second Report and Order (Second Order) in this proceeding, the FCC made certain technical
refinements to the Part 15 rules related to Access BPL devices. The BPL rules as amended in this
Second Order will provide for Access BPL technology that has applications for broadband
distribution and for Smart Grid, while protecting incumbent radio services against harmful
interference.
The Second Order was issued in response to a remand by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008,
following an appeal by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). The court ordered the FCC to
release to the public for comment complete versions of certain staff technical studies that it had
released in redacted form during the proceeding. It also required that the Commission provide an
explanation of its choice of the extrapolation factor, i.e., a conversion factor adopted for use in
converting radiated emissions measurements from BPL systems taken at a particular distance for
comparison with the limits at the distance specified in the rules.
In 2009, the Commission released the subject studies in toto and invited comment on them and
provided the reasoning for its previous choice of an extrapolation value, and in light of new
information invited comment on that, as well other minor technical parameters.
In the Second Order, the Commission determined that information and comments submitted in
response to the studies and the request for comment on other recent information did not warrant
changes to the BPL emissions standards or extrapolation factor.
The Commission did make certain technical refinements to the rules to provide enhanced protection
to licensed services and improve the accuracy of radiated emission measurements for Access BPL
devices. These refinements include:
1) slightly increasing the required notching capability (i.e., the ability to eliminate use of certain
frequencies in the event harmful interference occurs) of BPL systems;
2) adopting a methodology for determining site-specific BPL extrapolation factors; and
3) adopting a definition for "slant-range distance" (i.e., the diagonal distance measured from the
center of the measurement antenna to the nearest point of the overhead power line carrying the
Access BPL signal being measured). The BPL Measurement Guidelines require use of this
slant-range distance.
A copy of the Second Order is available at
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-11-160A1.doc (26 FCC Rcd 15712
(2011))

2. Background Information
Part 15 of the FCC rules contains the technical requirements for radio frequency (RF) devices that
may be operated without an individual license. The requirements include radiated and power line
conducted emission limits for intentional and unintentional radiators.
Intentional radiators are devices that intentionally generate and emit RF energy, i.e., transmitters.
Examples of Part 15 intentional radiators include cordless telephones, remote control transmitters,
remote utility meter readers, and wireless local area networking equipment. Part 15 intentional
radiators must be certified by the FCC or a designated Telecommunication Certification Body
(TCB) before they can be imported into or marketed within the United States.
Unintentional radiators are devices that intentionally generate, but do not intentionally emit, RF
energy. Examples of Part 15 unintentional radiators include radio receivers, computers and TV
interface devices such as DVD players, cable and satellite boxes. Because BPL signals can “leak”
(radiate RF energy) from unshielded power lines, BPL devices are considered to be unintentional
radiators. Most unintentional radiators can be authorized through a self-approval process in which
the manufacturer has the equipment tested to ensure it complies with the Part 15 rules, but does not
have to obtain certification through the FCC or a TCB. However, certain devices, such as scanning
receivers and radar detectors, as well as Access BPL devices, are required to be certified before they
can be imported into or marketed within the United States.
3.

What is an Access BPL device?

An Access BPL device is a Part 15 unintentional radiator that couples radio frequency (RF) onto the
power lines that route commercial power to neighborhoods or residences to bring and distribute
Internet and other broadband communication signals to these areas.
4. What are the compliance requirements that apply to Access BPL devices?
·
An Access BPL device must comply with the general technical requirements in Section 15.611
of the rules, including radiated emission limits, and interference mitigation and avoidance
requirements such as frequency notching and remote shut-down.
· An Access BPL device must comply with the general administrative requirements in Section
15.615 of the rules, such as consulting with public safety users and avoiding operation in certain
frequencies and in certain geographic areas (“exclusion zones”) as defined in the rules.
· An Access BPL device must be labeled with an FCC identification number as required by
Section 2.925 and provide the statement required by Section 15.19(a)(3) indicating that the
device complies with Part 15 of the rules may not cause harmful interference and must accept
any interference received.
· An Access BPL device must be tested for compliance with the BPL technical requirements
found in Section 15.601, et seq. The Commission has issued a Measurement Guideline that
provides guidance on how to set up BPL equipment and perform compliance measurements.
This document may be found in Appendix D of the Second Order at the links provided below in
Section 9 of this guide.

5. What are the certification approval requirements for Access BPL devices?
·
All Access BPL devices must be certified by the FCC or a TCB before they can be imported
into or marketed within the United States. Certification applications shall be accompanied
by a measurement report in accordance with Section 2.1033 of the rules.
·
Each device used in an Access BPL system requires its own certification.
·
Applications for certification of an Access BPL device must include a statement describing
how the device operates with the following information: modulation type, number of
carriers, carrier spacing, channel bandwidth, notch capability/control, power settings/control,
and range of signal injection duty factors.
·
The measurement report shall also include representative emissions spectrum plot(s) of the
reported data.
·
For Access BPL devices operating below 30 MHz, if the site-specific method for
determining the extrapolation factor was used, the measurement report shall also include
detailed information on the calculations and the data points taken.
·
Please refer to 47 C.F.R. § 15.607, et seq. for information on the Access BPL approval
requirements and 47 C.F.R. § 2.901, et seq. for information on the equipment certification
procedures. See also the Measurement Guidelines for Access BPL devices in Exhibit D of
the Second Order at the links provided below in Section 9 of this Guide.
6. What is the BPL database?
The BPL database is a privately owned and operated service that Access BPL devices must
contact to register their operations at the chosen geographic locations. The FCC has designated the
Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) as the database administrator from the private sector to create and
operate the BPL database. The BPL database is required to contain information including:
·
The name of the Access BPL provider.
·
The frequencies of the Access BPL operation.
·
The postal zip codes served by the specific Access BPL operation.
·
The manufacturer and type of Access BPL equipment and its associated FCC ID number, or,
in certain cases, the Trade Name and Model Number, as specified on the equipment label.
·
The contact information, including both phone number and email address of a person at, or
associated with, the BPL operator’s company, to facilitate the resolution of any interference
complaint.
· The proposed/or actual date of Access BPL operation.
Please refer to 47 C.F.R. § 15.615 for information on the BPL database requirements. The BPL
database may be accessed at http://www.bpldatabase.org.
7. What are the penalties for non-compliance with the rules?
Willful or repeated violations of the equipment authorization, importation and marketing rules can
result in forfeitures of up to $16,000 for each violation or each day of continuing violation, up to a
maximum of $112,500. See Section 1.80 of the FCC rules in 47 C.F.R. § 1.80. Individuals or
organizations may also be subject to criminal penalties under Title 18 of the U.S. Code. FCC field
personnel, working in conjunction with the Attorney General of the United States, may seize illegal
equipment.

8. What if I have questions on the BPL rules?
The FCC maintains a web-based system that is used to submit inquiries to its Laboratory, as well as
to search for previous rule interpretations and frequently asked questions. This system, called the
OET Knowledge Data Base (KDB), can be accessed at www.fcc.gov/labhelp.
9. Where can I find the BPL rules and information on the certification procedure?
FCC Order adopting the BPL rules: Report and Order in ET Docket Nos. 04-37 and 03-104,
FCC 04-245, released October 28, 2004, 19 FCC Rcd 21265 (2004)
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-04-245A1.doc (Word)
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-04-245A1.pdf (Acrobat)
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-04-245A1.txt (Text)
FCC Order modifying the BPL rules: Second Order in ET Docket Nos. 04-37 and 03-104,
FCC 11-160, released October 24, 2011
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-11-160A1.doc (Word)
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-11-160A1.pdf (Acrobat)
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-11-160A1.txt (Text)
Equipment authorization information:
http://www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/

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