AT&T’s New “AirGig” Not Your Father’s BPL


From the ARRL, original post here.  21/9/2016

Recalling the earlier efforts of the FCC and telecommunications and utility interests to roll out “Broadband over Powerline” (BPL), the Amateur Radio community has been buzzing with questions about AT&T’s just-announced “AirGig” BPL plan to make broadband available via apparently similar technology.  ARRL’s earlier anti-BPL campaign, and market forces, eventually led to the demise of the prior BPL initiative.  ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, who spearheaded the earlier effort to quantify BPL’s threat to Amateur Radio’s HF spectrum and remains the resident expert on the subject, said this newest BPL incarnation should not pose an interference issue for radio amateurs.

“This technology uses millimeter-wave RF signals (30 GHz to 300 GHz) coupled onto the surface of power lines to transmit the signal along the line with relatively low losses,” Hare explained.  “After looking at this technology, it looks nothing like the type of HF and VHF BPL that caused us so many problems years ago.  The sky is not falling.”

Hare added that it is not likely that the AT&T technology will even use Amateur Radio bands, so there is little reason for concern even among those amateurs who use spectrum above 24 GHz.

According to AT&T’s September 20 announcement, the company is “deep in the experimentation phase” of the developing technology, which it says would be “easier to deploy than fiber, can run over license-free spectrum, and can deliver ultra-fast wireless connectivity to any home or handheld wireless device.” AT&T said its initial — and continuing — testing at AT&T outdoor facilities “has been positive,” and initial field trials are set to begin in 2017.

Hare said the technique of putting RF signals onto the surface of conductors is not new.  An article by Glenn Elmore, N6GN, and John Watrous, K6PZB, appeared in the May/June issue of QEX, describing the technique.  In January 1953, theProceedings of the IRE featured an article by C. E. Sharp and G. Goubau, “A UHF Surface-Wave Transmission Line,” and the Radio Amateurs VHF Manual 11th edition introduced the technique to amateurs in 1968.

Hare said the League will keep an eye and ear out for interference problems, but he believes that the frequencies involved and the fact that these signals should not propagate far from the lines will pose little risk the Amateur Radio Service.

“So far, industry has not found a way to reliably put broadband signals on wires intended to carry power frequencies,” he said. “The technical difficulties of trying to use wiring not designed to carry RF signals [and] connected to all sorts of noisy loads, other conductors and even splices that are major discontinuities at these frequencies will probably prove to be quite the technical challenge.  ARRL is interested in seeing all technology succeed, but its vested interest is in the interference potential of new technologies.  Fortunately, in this case, there is little likelihood of interference.”

China unveils world’s biggest radio telescope in search for extraterrestrial life

Via, original post here.  25th September 2016.


China switched on the world’s largest radio telescope on Sunday, officially launching its mission to hunt for extraterrestrial life and explore space.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) was launched in a mountainous region of China’s Guizhou province, according to state media outlet Xinhua, 17 years after the project was first proposed by Chinese astronomers and more than five years after work began on the $180 million structure.

According to a Xinhua report in August, 8,000 people were moved from their homes to make room for FAST, which is the size of 30 football pitches and made up of 4,450 panels.  The displaced villagers were due to be compensated with cash or new housing and offered jobs in tourism or support services around the FAST project, as part of a $269 million relocation budget set aside by the government.

Xinhua described FAST as a “super-sensitive ‘ear’ capable of spotting very weak messages – if there are any – from space.”  The media outlet said that in a recent trial, FAST had detected high-quality electromagenitc waves sent from a pulsar about 1,351 light-years from Earth.

Watch the CNBC Video here.

Illegal phone repeater interference

From ARVic, original post here.


Following complaints of poor service and interference at Deer Park in Melbourne’s west the Australian Communications and Media Authority has seized an authorised phone repeater.

The ACMA has been successful in tracking down the devices and is still investigating the latest incident.  Phone extenders of the type seized and other GPS and phone jammers are imported through the mail, but are unlawful in Australia to possess or sell.

The ACMA in conjunction with Australian Border Control is using a sophisticated x-ray machine of international mail packages to the detect devices.  Despite this some may slip through, resulting in the ACMA working with telcos and customers to track down the errant radio equipment.

Follow the ACMA Operations Twitter feed here.

Paul VK2ICQ notes ACMA inspectors were looking for a (potentially) similar source of interference in the Port Macquarie industrial area in the last fortnight.

Review of the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan


From the WIA, original post here.

Date : 24 / 09 / 2016 
Author : Roger Harrison – VK2ZRH

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has opened consultation on its proposed update of the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan.  The ACMA announced it on its website on 22 September 2016.

The Authority has issued a discussion paper and related documents, referring directly to possible changes, and invites submissions before 24 October 2016.  The Spectrum Plan includes a table of frequency allocations from 8.3 kHz through to 420 terahertz (THz) that divides up the spectrum to show the general purpose of each band, to which services they are allocated, and associated footnotes relevant to particular allocations.  It was last reviewed in 2013.

The Spectrum Plan reflects Australia’s treaty obligations following the International Telecommunications Union’s World Radiocommunications Conference in late 2015.  The ACMA acknowledges that Australia was a signatory to the decisions of that ITU conference, was working with those affected domestically, but due to various factors, all foreshadowed changes may not occur by the end of 2016.

Also expected to be reflected in the remake is the Federal Government’s proposed new legislation that removes prescriptive process to replace these with a simpler, more flexible licensing system.

The updated Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan is expected to begin on 1 January 2017.  Once the Spectrum Plan is amended subordinate legislation, such as licence conditions, will also be amended subsequently, as necessary.  Any individual or group with an interest in radiofrequency spectrum allocations and use can make a submission.

As the peak representative body for the Australian radio amateur community, the WIA is preparing a submission.  See the ACMA’s announcement on its website, via this link.

Amateur Reciprocal Qualifications Review


From the WIA, original post here.

Date : 24 / 09 / 2016 
Author : Phil Wait – VK2ASD

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has reset the qualification equivalency of the US Technician Licence for new applications to that of the entry level Australian Foundation Licence.  The majority of submissions to the ACMA inquiry fully agreed that the Foundation Licence was the most appropriate for reciprocal licensing purposes.  Before the review it was set at the highest Advance Licence.

The ACMA said a report prepared by the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) indicated that the US Technician Class Licence was no longer equivalent to the Advanced Licence.  The WIA sought to lower the level of reciprocity to the Foundation Licence.  It also reflected the ACMA’s confirmation by independent inquiry that the basis on which the US Technician Class Licence was conferred had changed over time.  The ACMA review asked: Do you support the ACMA and the WIA’s stance that the US Technician Class licence is no longer equivalent to the Advanced Licence and that the Foundation Licence is the most appropriate for reciprocal licensing purposes?

A total of 23 submissions received, 15 agreed, seven disagreed and one neither agreed nor disagreed with the proposal.

Among those agreeing was the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) that stated that the US Technician Class Licence was very close to the Foundation Licence, but not higher (It was downgraded in 1999).  Four respondents who agreed to the downgrade believed existing licensees should have their licences reviewed and possibly downgraded to Foundation Level.  However five submissions who agreed to the downgrade, also felt that existing reciprocal licences already issued should remain, and that the downgrading start from the date of the ACMA decision.  Those against the downgrading felt that the US Technician Licence was more aligned to the Australian Standard Licence than the Foundation Licence.

The ACMA said what must be assessed was the relative levels of each qualification – what level of knowledge was the best fit for each class of licence.  Based on this test, the US Technician Class licence aligns best with the Foundation Licence.  However, the ACMA ruling was not retrospective.  Existing licensees who obtained their Advanced Licence based on the US Technician Class Licence were grandfathered and may continue to operate at the Advanced Level.