At an urgently called press conference today a telecommunications regulator spokesman, Mr Jarse (Hugh), announced that Powerline technology (the much maligned devices of what seemed like a few troublesome shortwave listeners radio amateurs and similar relatively unimportant minorities decry as causing interference to Radio Communication), will become a force for good enabling all users whether in their homes or walking around the streets, to receive and share all manner of media with the very basic of devices.
He added candidly that they had been pushing at this door for years.
Hugh confirmed that following secret negotiations and development in conjunction with manufacturers and drafters of Harmonised Standards, a new chipset had been prototyped which would allow the devices increased output into the mains wiring of our homes.
Mr Jarse wished to assert that their negotiations had not been undermined by the recent disclosure following an appeal to the Information Commissioner regarding the tests on some original Comtrend Units. In fact it only hastened the process and hence the reason this conference being held today.
The new chipset was to enable a greater coverage so that users could make use of the known wireless effects of the devices in their gardens. So much so that it is expected to be lauded as being a market challenger for wifi.
To receive the signal wirelessly manufacturers were going to supply a special antennas one that is clamped on to the mains cable at the distribution box and requires no tools (similar to some power consumption devices currently on the market) and the other a unit with a compact aerial and with a small battery which can be attached to a parasol or a simple spike in the ground.
Also at the press conference were spokesmen for HPA (Homeplug Powerline Alliance), BIS and CENELEC (Part of the EU standards Committee system). At this point the HPA spokesman announced that while there had been some initial misgivings at the extensive use of spectrum required, believed to be in excess of 400MHz, it was thought that these devices seem to provide such an all-encompassing multimedia streaming ability and it was thought that many of the existing licensed services would no longer be required. In fact He anticipated that new devices that would enable private local chat/share facility using a multiplexed 'selcal' codec.
The collaboration in the testing and field trials had, as always proven to be the usual smooth partnership. It was agreed and stated that following the initial introduction of the devices later this year in the UK, It was hoped that there would be a roll-out of the devices in the EU and then worldwide, if not by the end of 2011 then certainly by April 2012. It all depends on the ITU drawing up the revised spectrum allocations worldwide. It was suggested that once the working groups had made their recommendations, there would be a roll out initially in Region 1 which affects mostly UK and Europe, the Regions 2 and 3 would quickly follow.
The HPA Spokesman, Mr Bill Bolliken, seemed thrilled to state that this was based on experiments contained in a newly discovered work by the inventor Nikola Tesla, who had many patents relating to the wireless transmission of energy, as it predated the around 80 year history of the Homeplug.
At present there were no photographs of the new units, but it was expected that some would soon be available and at that time there would be a further press conference where they would be available along with tested, type approved and patented prototypes. In brief he claimed the patents were based on Super Longitudinal Integrated Media Extrapolation driven by Synchronised Holographic Inverting Transistors enabling Fuzzy Audio Recyclic Transmissions.
The spokesman for CENELEC stated that he expected that the Harmonised standards would be available on or around 12 August 2011. In fact he actually anticipated that it would be straightforward as the committee no longer had an RF experts on board whom the PLT representatives considered as just overqualified radio amateurs.
This time PLT will get not only its swathe of spectrum but generous Harmonised standards in weeks, compared to the 10 years of blocking by the radio interests. He could not resist one final quotable sound bite "for such simple technology we need no knowledgeable experts". So it seems the predominant RF device of the future will be the powerline adapter and that the regulator was in on it.
The regulator announced some Spectrum Licensing changes which would occur as a result - Specifically:
RADIO AMATEURS: that from now on there would be only commercial licences available, and as from 31 December 2011 all amateur Radio licences would be revoked.
All Amateur Radio Transmitting equipment would have to be surrendered by the beginning of April 2012.
All amateurs would be contacted with a view to an enforcement officer making a visit to the amateur's station so that transmitting equipment (commercial or otherwise) may be uplifted and the station closed down.
If possible, this equipment would be recycled, adapted and made available to 3rd world countries where it could be best made use of.
It is expected that this stage should be complete within the first 3 months of 2012 as we will be recruiting suitably qualified personnel as temporary field officers and also have the assistance of the RSGB.
A nominal compensation payment scheme has also been agreed which will be paid for equipment surrendered.
This had been reluctantly agreed by their 'Societies, the RSGB being the one in the UK. Shortwave listeners may hold onto their equipment as may the radio amateurs hold onto their separate receivers as the government can see no financial or practical use being made of these. There will no longer be any licensing for such 'hobby' radio users.
"Their so-called amateur experimentation has no place in a global professional technocratic society like today's. Global Communication has no room for Individualism."
Users of the PLT devices would now need to apply for Licences to use these devices. This would be a nominal fee of £16 per device which would be for the lifetime of the device and payable on purchase of the device.
Existing devices were not compatible with the new improved device but some would still require to pay the licence fee. The devices so affected were those supplied with BT Vision. The users of these devices will have until end of April 2012 to pay the fee.
An initial letter will be sent out on 31 December 2011 with, if required, a final reminder at the beginning of April 2012. If users fail to pay the licence then field officers will visiting the user and confiscate all PLT devices whether supplied with BT Vision or not.
CB'rs are also required to surrender their equipment and this will be enforced. Use will be made of databases, such as retailers to establish likely locations of these transmitters.
FM & DAB:
Although much investment has been put into the push for the digital changeover in relation to DAB, it was actively being considered whether DAB would be able to stand up to the challenge of PLT, especially now that the required frequency allocation was being shared and the DAB transmissions would be a considerable source of interference to PLT. In any event, when DAB+ or DAB2 comes along it will be more likely to succeed.
The question apparently is why waste further investment with DAB now. PLT manufacturers are also considering the viability of long-term development of adapters for such receivers. Since the market is huge the commercial gains could be substantial and as one of the speakers stated "if there is enough demand in this to make it financially 'viable' then we will certainly look at it - it may all depend and the licence fee situation".
The PLT band, as it will become known, will become a 'protected' band and any interference to it will be regarded as harmful or undue interference. Enforcement officers will be able to root out any illegal transmissions, prosecute accordingly and confiscate the offending equipment. This is necessary as PLT will be an integral part of the country's Multimedia, Information, Network and Control Environment (MINCE).
Mr Jarse stated that he could not emphasise strongly enough that given the need for the nation's security there could be no room in a modern society for communications outwith a controlled digitised framework, which could be readily monitored and remotely controlled by the state. After all, he added, it was for everyone's good and would generate a welcome income stream in these austere times.
As with other spectrum allocations, there will be geographic areas where PLT use will be excluded from. The specified areas will be set out both on the device instructions as well as the BBC will provide details in information bulletins.
These areas are expected to be around airports and military establishments.
Serious thought had been given to licence exemption for the new PLT devices but as this would add to the cost increase of each unit and presently unnecessary testing by a Notified Body, it was clear that a commercially attractive product might become of marginal commercial viability and prove problematic having regard to the EU policy on 'No barriers to trade' guideline.
It is understood that a new Wireless Telegraphy Act is in draft and expected to rushed through parliament in time for 'going live' at the start of 2012. This seems to be ground breaking stuff and a big step forward for the digital dividend. The devices have great control possibilities and should see the world moving forward to the global intercommunicating village. Is there is room for all here to develop devices and applications or will the heavy boys of PLT rule?
Fat firms or barrow boys, I spot a substantial commercial profit on the horizon. While a few RF hypersensitive or intolerant people exist and there is an absolutely minimal likelihood of the devices affecting their health (though PFCs* will provide guaranteed relief) and in any event it is the global desire that such should not stand in the way of greater need of the many to communicate and be controlled. It will be great to have PLT in use in time for the 2012 Olympics so that everyone can immerse themselves in the PLT vibrations. Let's hope the sunspot cycle picks up even more so that the coverage by PLT becomes really widespread and everyone knows what it's like.
This really seems very hasty and it is to be hoped that the short schedule will be met. Full details about the Licence changes etc will be published as usual in the London Gazette once the new Act is passed - Yes folks the regulator, with this announcement, has now confirmed PLT is indeed wireless telegraphy and deserves it proper frequency allocation.
* PFC - Personal Faraday Cage