FEMA frets about power line broadband

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is worried that sending data through power lines could disrupt its National Radio System.

The agency responded to a notice of inquiry issued in May by the Federal Communications Commission on whether, or how, the agency should regulate an emerging technology called broadband over power line, or BPL.

BPL systems use power lines as a conduit for data transmission by modulating radio frequency signals that are coupled with electricity transmissions. The technology could be offered as an alternative to cable modem and digital subscriber line service. No services are now offered.

The radio system, which works with shortwave radios, is FEMA's backup command and control communications media, and was designed to interface with the radio systems of other agencies during times of disaster.

Both the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration are conducting studies to measure interference levels.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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