back to article YouView recommends radio hams' pet peeve

Radio hams with a downer on powerline Ethernet are set to be even more upset by the debut of YouView. The IPTV platform is recommending the networking-over-the-mains technology. YouView is currently running a closed trial of service. Trial support documents seen by The Register recommend punters whose broadband box is more …


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  1. Gordon 10

    In reality

    Most if not all of those interested in YouViews features will have a FreeSat or Freeview Box/Telly today anyway - and those mostly will not have wireless just a lan port. So likely lots of them will already have powerline today.

    (He says goading the nearest Ham with his homeplug av kit )

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So 20th Century? ;-)

    Frankly, this seems far far more elegant...

    A mobile eithernet port - lovely!

  3. dogged

    Radio Hams are full of crap

    Sorry guys. I still have a cupboard full of RF diags kit and the Royal Signals training to use it and what do I find from my Devolo adapters? Nothing. Nada. Not a twitch outside of normal variance experienced when the bloody things aren't even switched on or plugged in.

    To anyone that complains about powerline networking - if you own a microwave oven or a hairdryer, you are either looking in the wrong place or a massive hypocrite.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Radio Hams are full of crap

      Indeed, and isn't their argument based on an old report (early Homeplug products, pre-notching) that included one spectacularly faulty unit which significantly skewed the results?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Radio Hams are full of crap

        Also worth noting that it was UPA units which were non-compliant to EMC which were being sold, but these days it is HomePlugAV which is being recommended, two different standards.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Radio Hams are full of crap

        There are a number of reports that have been commissioned, and all of them found that when active and connected to a Line Test Network with a 6dB LCL the PLT adapters of all flavours are transmitting at 30+dB above the EN55022B limits, some at 40dB above.

        Now, as of October 2011, all newly brought to market PLT devices *must* comply with EN55022B emissions limits, but there is a 6 month window in which the device has to be suspected, investigated, tested and found to be non-compliant.

        Whether this regulatory nonsense can continue I don't know, the provisions in the new draft EN50561 standard will supersede EN55022B, but this is still a draft and there is a lot of resistance to the levels allowed because we all know that the adaptive notching approach is not going to be any use unless there are very strong local signals.

        A pity that most of the antis here are all ACs and are not prepared to stand up and be counted. The mere fact that Ofcom had to be compelled to release their own PLT test report that was every bit as bad as those protesting had said is indicative that the market is being skewed.

        I assume you'll all be telling me that the assault on my ears and the lines down my waterfall displays on HF are a figment of my imagination too.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Radio Hams are full of crap

            Well, they're actually actively obstructive but now the rules have changed (October 2011) it does mean that there is another avenue of attack.

        2. JP19

          Re: Radio Hams are full of crap

          "antis here are all ACs and are not prepared to stand up and be counted"

          To be frank if the authorities decided the utility of power line communication and the crap it radiates outweighs the utility of HF communications mostly by amateurs in domestic locations where the crap causes the most problem I could live with it and accept standards which allow them to radiate the crap.

          What really pees me off is the flouting of the law. Rules is rules and the law is the law except when you have already sold piles of non-compliant illegal crap.

          I have recently been involved retesting some old equipment that was never tested properly in the first place. It has been sold for decades without a single reported emission or susceptibility problem but it is far from compliant and is costing thousands to fix and test - mostly a waste of money, but, it has to be done, it is the law. Galling to see non-compliant equipment which definitely causes problems has and continues to be sold.

    2. JP19

      Re: Radio Hams are full of crap

      What is RF diags kit? Your kit or your training is defective.

      High speed data transmission requires radio frequency signals and you can't send high speed data down unscreened and untwisted wires without it radiating.

      Power line communication modems are broadband radio transmitters, the only way they don't radiate (much) is if your particular mains wiring topology and length happen to be a crap antenna at the frequencies you are interested in.

      As for microwave oven - lol. Didn't your training explain the difference between signals with wavelengths of 10s of meters and those of a few centimetres?

      1. frank ly

        @JP19 Re: Microwave Oven

        With my old microwave oven, I noticed that my Wi-Fi speed dropped noticably when the oven was on. I suspect that this was not microwave radiation leaking out, but mains radiated interference from whatever crappy power supply module they used to drive the magnetron.

        1. JP19

          Re: @JP19 Microwave Oven

          Microwave ovens usually operate around 2.4GHz. WiFi operates around 2.4GHz (or 5). Direct interference from leaky microwave ovens is very possible.

          Cisco say "Jupiter Research reports 67 percent of all residential Wi-Fi problems are linked to interfering devices, such as cordless phones, baby monitors, and microwave ovens."

          Crappy switch mode power supplies might cause interference problems but not at WiFi frequencies. At least microwave ovens are supposed to be tested and comply with radio frequency emission regulations. High speed power line data communication equipment can't be tested because half of the equipment is random house mains wiring different in every installation. Just turning on a light switch or plugging in another appliance could completely change the characteristics or the wiring with regard to it being a radio frequency antenna.

          There is no way anyone could claim compliance with CE regulation for High speed power line data communication equipment or honestly put a CE mark on it but they did and do and the authorities won't challenge them to prove compliance because failure and the subsequent recall and refunds for hundreds of thousands of devices would create too much outrage. It is a travesty the idea ever got off the drawing board.

          1. Andus McCoatover

            Leaky microwave oven?

            The film "Last house on the left" sprang to mind.

            Bugger them last-century radio hams. Would you believe they still think "Digial Communication" means "Morse Code"??

            Bunch of amateurs, all of them. Line 'em up against the wall, etc.

            -Andus (a.k.a. G4GKB)

    3. Christian Berger

      The big problem is...

      ...that home installations differ a great deal. If you have a proper installation probably nothing bad will happen. If you have a bad installation, you will radiate most of the signal.

      The other problem is that those powerline modems work at the only frequency range broadcasting is feasible. You cannot broadcast a radio station at, let's say 2.4 GHz because at those frequencies your signal will not be reflected at the ionosphere. You'd have to put a transmitter every 50-200 km, depending on the topography. That is expensive. That's why you only find local channels on those frequencies. (And satellite transmissions, but that's another topic entirely)

      So there is very little your microwave oven or diathermy device can interfere with, as frequencies above about 27 MHz are essentially useless for non local broadcasting.

    4. andyham

      Re: Radio Hams are full of crap

      its not the apadapeter is the wioring they use the mans cable is unscreened therefore a massive antenna.

      cat 5 is creened twisted pair so you dont get rf leakage, but basically the wiring becomes a network and aan anetanna guess waht in theory it is possibel for your neighbiurs to use your internet conection using devolan adapters . if you think hams are lieing got othe rsgb website and search for plt.

      If you haev been in royal signals why you never gt a ham license , ill tell ay why you are not allowed to due to the fact you have not been trained to a higher standard . roayal siganls use equipmet designed for the military , made easy to use for the squaddies.

  4. Gideon 1

    Works both ways

    I hope the powerline networking kit is also immune to 100+ Watts of HF modulated carrier transmitted nearby, hehe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Works both ways

      Only 100W?

      400W sounds better.

      as an aside my neighbours PLT (supplied by BT) gave me S9 of noise between 7.020 and 7.200

      now he's switched over to a cat5 cable I have no noise again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Works both ways

      *sigh* same old childish attitude. Isn't it better to educate your neighbours and offer them advice instead of being an arsehole?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Works both ways

        So, being an arse-hole involves legally transmitting on frequencies you are allowed to use at power levels within your licence conditions does it?

        Not one of my neighbours has a house that requires PLT on networking groiunds, I might have some sympathy if there were problems with thick walls and ancient construction, but all the houses around are dry-lined and wooden framed internally so you can get a Cat 5 cable through without the slightest problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Works both ways

          Intentionally causing or attempting to cause interference to neighbours using *legal* equipment is being an arsehole and as far as I am aware is against the terms of your licence, it would certainly be looked upon very dimly by the authorities. Why don't you grow up and try to resolve the problem amicably instead of making it into a bigger one?

          They probably aren't aware that there's anything wrong with the kit they have, it's highly unlikely they will have a clue that you suffer because of it, why not try explaining it to them, you never know, you might actually make a friend and get enough of a social life that sitting in a cramped sweaty shack with your BO and elastoplasted glasses doesn't seem so attractive anymore.

      2. Graham Wilson

        @A.C. -- Re: Works both ways

        Irrespective, it's the governments job to manage the radio spectrum so the issue doesn't arise. What's happened here is government's abrogation of responsibility.

    3. Graham Wilson

      @Gideon 1 - Re: Works both ways

      As I've pointed out elsewhere, it's not. And the fact that the government has allowed it verges on criminal irresponsibility.

  5. Graham Wilson

    Essentially criminal irresponsibility by UK Govt.

    2400 Watts are available from a GPO. If even a small percentage of this is incoming mains power is converted to RF of the 'right sort' then fed back down the power lines then these BPL/PLC/PLT schemes just simply would not exist!

    I'm amazed that anarchy hasn't already ruled supreme here.

    Forget the interference this stuff causes to other communications users for a moment, for a government to approve a communications system that's so vulnerable--susceptible to inference--is not only a farce but an abrogation of responsibility.

    It's not amateurs that users have to worry about, it's terrorists and others of evil intent. For the UK Government to provide a barnyard door for them to walk though at will is essentially criminal irresponsibility.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Out of cat5 range?

    How big is your gaff?

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Out of cat5 range?

      Or alternatively

      Of course using all 305 meters of it as a single length of cable isn't recommended.

    2. ukgnome

      Re: Out of cat5 range?

      Damn - I knew I shouldn't of bought a dis-used airport terminal to live in!

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. dotdavid


    Off-topic, but being in a low-signal area I do wish YouView was fully IPTV (i.e. it streamed the Freeview channels over IP and wasn't just a glorified Freeview+Catch-Up TV box).

    I'm currently experimenting with a RaspberryPI, XBMC and TVCatchup's XBMC plugin which seems initially to be quite a good solution. Assuming TVCatchup doesn't get ordered to close down for being too useful.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

    (AC, because I'm admitting I use HPs - I'm not THAT daft...)

    We have four HomePlugAV adapters in our house, and I admit they're not pricey ones, so it may well be that they're not "clean" in terms of what they emit.

    I'm not proud of us using them, and would get rid of the things in a shot - not just because I want to be friendly to any radio-fans in the area, but mainly because HomePlugAV is just too darn slow (45Mbps-ish on a good day). If I want to copy big files (100MBs) to/from our Synology NAS downstairs, it's faster for me to walk down there and plug a USB drive into the NAS - and, forget about shifting HD video around (which ISTR was one point of HomePlugAV in the first place).

    No, I'd much prefer to have Cat5e cabling around the house, but as it's a three-storey, I think I'd have to call in the experts (someone suggested an electrician). I think this one's gonna run and run... :-(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

      How about MoCa bridges over your existing RG6/RG59 coax?

    2. Richard 116

      Re: I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

      Have you thought about running Cat5e outside the house? I don't know what your set up is but I have my main PC in the attic but TV/WDTV/PS3/modem/router/whatever in the lounge on the ground floor. The cable exits the wall downstairs and goes up the outside of the drainpipe (attached by cable ties) to the attic. Regular Cat5e and no problems in nearly 5 years. I'm sure it will break at some point but the holes are already there and Cat5e is cheap.

      1. Fuzz

        Re: I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

        +1 for outdoor cat5e. Personally I spent a little more and got some outdoor rated stuff but the regular stuff is probably fine.

        I used to have some homeplug adapters, same ones BT give out but they couldn't cope with streaming 1080p and they use a lot of power for what they do.

        1. Fibbles

          Re: I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

          I realise it's a bit of a hassle to do it yourself but you really don't need to waste your hard earned on an electrician. You can thread cat5 through wall cavities with a stick, a good length of string and somebody on the other end to let you know when they can see the cable. I managed to wire up the attic room in about 3 hours. The most time consuming bit was lifting a few floorboards.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

      Homeplug 500-AV and I achieve 130Mbits/s around my house.

      Keeping them, because they're great and I don't give a shit about radio-hams.

      1. Graham Wilson

        Re: I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

        "because they're great and I don't give a shit about radio-hams."

        I can understand your view about not giving a shit about radio amateurs as you see them as a threat to your beloved HomePlug system, but the real issue is why someone as ignorant as you (ignorant in these matters anyway) are brought into conflict with the amateurs in the first place.

        Clearly, you have no concept whatsoever of how the radio spectrum is divvied up and allocated, for if you had then there's a fair chance that (a) you'd never have bought a HomePlug system in the first place and (b) you'd not have made that selfish comment.

        The reason why you've been brought in conflict with amateurs in the first place is that in the last 30 years or so governments have abrogated or substantially scaled down their responsibility for the regulation of the radio spectrum. Under pressure from commercial interests, governments have both outsourced spectrum management and relaxed interference standards which has meant that RF systems now noticeably interfere with each other.

        Also, it's meant that BPL/PLC and HomePlug systems have snuck in when they shouldn't have--and they've snuck in because a few 'engineers' were prepared to prostitute their profession to satisfy accountants' desires to cheapen things to a point where now other services--users of the shared radio spectrum--have suffered badly as a consequence through excessive interference.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

          I can understand your view about not giving a shit about radio amateurs as you see them as a threat to your beloved HomePlug system

          I don't see them as a threat at all, I just don't give a shit about them and their whiny ways. Everytime there's an article on Homeplug, out they come, regurgitating some ancient analysis of products no longer on sale or that were - at the time, fully defective - and claiming that products 10 years later shouldn't be on sale as a result. Give me a break, change the record.

          Oh, and I stopped reading after your first paragraph.

          1. Graham Wilson

            @A.C. -- Re: I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

            "Give me a break, change the record."

            Not Bloody Likely!!

            The more you ignore us, the more annoying we'll become!! BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug is an environmental issue--just it's about the radio spectrum environment (but the rules are the same). Like other rabbit Greenies, we'll whinge, annoy and irritate you until all BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug spectrum hazards have been regulated out of existence. We 'Greenies' have more persistence, tenacity and resilience than you quiet-lifers, that's why we'll eventually win.

            Get used to the fact there's a war in progress and that you spectrum polluters are clearly in our sights.

            "Oh, and I stopped reading after your first paragraph."

            Correct, you're clueless about Spectrum Management because you've never read anymore than a headline about the subject. Whilst somewhat debased now through government downsizing and outsourcing, but once an important branch of government, Spectrum Management's raison d'être is to protect legitimate users from you spectrum polluters and to see that the radio spectrum is efficiently used by ensuring minimum mutual interference. BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug is NOT a legitimate radio service but a spectrum polluter, and thus it will always be a key target of spectrum environmentalism. Spectrum vandals won't get off scot-free! Got that? (Better not forget it either.)

            Get it into your thick head that the BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug issue is not only a radio amateur issue, it equally concerns many other legitimate users who share the radio spectrum. Moreover, the legitimate users of the spectrum share it in a precise and orderly way and they've done so according to ITU rules for going on a century--unlike BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug interference which pays no heed to the rules--any rules, except those of self interest.

            I don't approach this argument as an amateur; thus it's unlikely I'll regularly experience the deleterious effects of HF band interference caused by BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug, rather I come to it as one who has previously spent time on spectrum management committees. From that perspective, if anything, amateurs could be perceived as more trouble through the less predictable nature and variability of their service but in practice this was never the case.

            The fact is that effective spectrum management is and has to be one of the ultimate forms of agreement and cooperation, and over the past century or so this has been mostly the case. Not only is Spectrum Management a highly technical matter but it also involves very different and conflicting issues, both technical and political. Coherent (message-producing) transmitting devices (TV, radio, communications, amateurs etc.) must coexist in close proximity to sensitive receiving devices with almost no mutual degradation being caused to each other's service. Protection from non-message-producing transmitters (noise-producing motors etc.) is axiomatic and thus legally enforceable. It has to be thus if radio communications is to work at all. Add to this mix the intense politics of competing demands for scarce spectrum resources and thus we end up with the highly complex animal that's Spectrum Management.

            Into this complex environment comes BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug. No, it's nothing like wireless and WiFi which compete with and are allocated spectrum and obey the spectrum management rules as do all other wireless services. Rather, BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug obeys no spectrum management rules whatsoever. Intrinsically and by design, it cannot because its signal is fundamentally different and cannot comply on technical grounds (in that it was designed to travel in a bidirectional manner over wires and NOT be radiated). Thus, whilst its signal is coherent within itself, BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug is little more than wideband random noise when compared to normal wireless signals that are sent over the highly regulated RF spectrum--i.e.: those which comply with international regulations.

            BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug was NOT designed to radiate into the spectrum but is does so by virtue of the world's biggest antenna to which it is connected--the powerline grid. The power grid is the means of network distribution for PL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug systems, but to HF signals, thousands upon thousands of miles of power cable strung high into the air are also an enormously effective antenna.

            In radio spectrum parlance, BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug is a 'DC-to-daylight', broad-spectrum incoherent signal. In electrical engineering parlance it is nothing more than electrical noise, exactly that--unwanted ELECTRICAL NOISE/INTERFERENCE (RFI). Facts are facts, no amount of dressing up can or will ever change that.

            No matter, how its advocates try to dress it up, BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug cannot be made into anything other than what it is. Attempts at making it comply to certain 'standards' such as restricting its output amplitude/level or notching its output over particularly susceptible bands/frequencies (for example, some amateurs bands) are nothing other than painting over rust, as its signal remains fundamentally incompatible with spectrum management norms.

            Nothing can disguise the fact that BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug is an extremely wideband, highly complex signal that's rich in high-order harmonics and which spans over many, many octaves. Moreover, as its advocates would try to have us believe, this wideband signal is supposed to coexist within an environment where whole bands are only a small fraction of an octave and where the very narrowband signals contained within them are only a few kHz wide.

            To make matters worse, these 'incoherent' noise signals, having been fed into and disseminated by the world's largest antenna, effectively increase the RF spectrum's noise floor right across the planet. Increasing the noise floor has a widespread, profound, and detrimental effect on other radio communication circuits worldwide, as effectively all radio circuits require additional transmitter power to overcome the additional noise. Environmentally friendly it is certainly not!

            A simplistic but reasonably realistic analogy of an increased noise floor would be if one were to add some black pigment to a tin of white paint. Later, adding various colour pigments to the now grey paint will still result in one achieving a substantial range of colours, however, all the light and delicate hues will be irretrievably lost. In essence, the signal-to-noise ratio falls for all other legitimate users of the spectrum when BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug's interference increases the noise floor across the planet.

            In computer vernacular, BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug is effectively a virus which pervades most of the HF spectrum and much of the VHF, and the only effective way of totally eliminating it is to kill it off at its source.

            Ultimately, there's no other solution other than to get rid BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug and replace it with proper engineering and technology. If you and other users of BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug-like systems think we RF spectrum environmentalists will eventually go and fade away, then, frankly, you're in for a big shock. If you think we'll stand idly by and let you ruin the spectrum, then think and think again.

            We've only just begun, and rest assured you'll lose interest first. Just use proper engineering and we'll leave you completely alone.


            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Graham Wilson

              Fup me you do go on, don't you? I took one look at the length of your post and knew there was no way I was going to waste any of my time reading that amount of shite!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Graham Wilson

                Yeah, cos everything that matters these days fits on three bullet points and some clipart on a Powerpoint.

                Or a tweet from a twitter twunt.


    4. andyham

      Re: I'd dump my HomePlugs tomorrow...

      use wifi here

      it saves all this hassle and it works fien with my on dmeand sky box (sky anytime on the sky box)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apples and Oranges

    IP over Power lines was a problem due to the power lines supply power to homes and businesses acting like an antenna. This has been proven to cause interference, and thus has failed in the US.

    The product described here uses the person's in house power wires to transmit data, and (similar to X10) is not likely to extend much beyond their power panel, thus not a great concern to Radio Amateurs.

    The article should not have implied it was the same system, nor should it have indicated HAMs have a problem with it unless they actually contacted someone of authority in the matter, such as the ARRL or its affiliates.

    1. motoh

      Re: Apples and Oranges

      This a thousand times. This is sloppy work at best. Broadband over Power Line and this inhouse data over power are different creatures entirely.

      1. Graham Wilson

        @motoh - - Re: Apples and Oranges. Uh??

        "...are different creatures entirely"

        Uh? Why?

        The definition would have made them identical when I was learning engineering. Have the laws of physics changed or something?

        Please explain!

    2. dogged

      Re: Apples and Oranges

      HAMs have a problem with anything that might possibly use electricity in a modulated form, whether or not it affect SW etc.

      Take a look around the Reg forums and all you'll see is anecdotal bollocks about Powerline networking (usually allegedly belonging to someone else) which is CLEARLL the cause of all their poor, poor troubles. It's the equivalent of asking a Parish Council if they'd approve of somebody building any form of manufacturing industry in "their" area - 100% guaranteed, they will vote against. Because they're all a) retired and b) the kind of tosser who stands for a parish council in the first place.

      Okay, HAMs aren't quite that bad but they are amateurs with some very dangerous opinions about what causes RF signal modulation and usually no training in proper testing and frequency analysis.

      It's like asking trainspotters to comment on a proposed motorway extension.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apples and Oranges

        What's your specialist field, dogged? Mine is physics, electronics, RF propagation, that kind of thing, with a particular interest (from outside) in mass market systems. I am not and never have been a radio ham, RSGB member, whatever, but I do own two oscilloscopes. Now, moving on.

        Are readers following BT's slow progress towards faster-than-ADSL broadband? I am, and have been for the last decade or more. (Other ISPs are available, and often better).

        To get faster than ordinary ADSL, in a non-cabled area, it's fibre optics from the exchange to the cabinet, then the usual boring old copper the rest of the way to your home, office, etc. The copper bit uses a technology called VDSL - like ADSL, it's radio frequencies down the existing telephone wires. ADSL uses up to roughly medium wave frequencies, but in order to get the extra performance, VDSL needs to make use of more bandwidth, right up to shortwave frequencies. It has to do this over a network of cables that was designed (and mostly installed) decades ago with little intention of ever using it for much above 3kHz never mind 30Mbit/s. But because the RF spectrum in general is relatively clean, it works reasonably well much of the time (with exceptions).

        As it happens the frequencies used by VDSL include the same shortwave frequencies that your beloved hams use.

        And with powerline splatter all over those frequencies, not only will they be unusable by the hams, they'll be pretty much unusable for VDSL too. So in a PLT-equipped world you'll likely be stuck with basically ADSL performance until the Internet comes to your door on interference-free fibre. Don't hold your breath on that one.

        Now, what was your point again. Or are you just keen on showing your ignorance (it's working well so far).

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. dogged

          Re: Apples and Oranges

          What's your specialist field, dogged?

          I was Royal Signals. An RF engineer in ugly places. Then I got injured and when I recovered, I worked for Motorola as an RF engineer (in Swindon). From there, I started working on low-level software for diags, then I did some more programming, then some network engineering, then some technical architecture.

          But basically, still an RF engineer.

          And I promise you, working powerline ethernet (in the home) does not impact HAM frequencies at all. I've tested it exhaustively. Broken, cheap or shoddy kit may do, but still nowhere near as much as a pre-2010 microwave oven.

          1. Joshua Murray

            Re: Apples and Oranges

            I can assure you that the early Comtrend PLT devices supplied with BT Vision (which is what started the whole debate within the amateur community) were not notched and produced significant HF digital noise within a radius of a couple of hundred feet at least. I have personal experience of this, and thanks to having a good neighbourly relationship, managed to resolve it amicably.

            To be fair, I also had to work with another neighbour to swap a faulty monitor power supply that also wiped out HF, but the problems were both equally bad.

            I've had no personal experience of more modern PLT devices, but I have read about problems with these in RADCOM (the monthly RSGB magazine).

            Some brands of plasma TV's and cut-price Solar panel installations have also been fingered as polluting the RF spectrum.

            I've never had a problem with Microwave ovens at HF, but they don't half screw up stuff in the 2.4GHz region!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Apples and Oranges

            Many ex Royal Signals guys are radio hams and in my thirty years of holding an an amateur licence I've never met a bunch of more arrogant guys than members of the RSARS. They generally look down at anyone who wasn't in Royal Signals. Some of the worst operating I've heard has been on RSARS nets especially if some poor soul is having a QSO on a frequency they want to use when it's time for the net to start. They act as though they own the airwaves. I appreciate that I'm tarring a whole group with the same brush but nothing I've heard on the wireless from ex Royal Signals operators makes me think otherwise.

          3. Anonymous Coward

            Re: Apples and Oranges

            Dogged old chap, you can promise us all you like, but just because in your case you can't detect any interference from PLT does not mean that there is no interference in a great many other places and instances.

            Every test result from accredited test laboratories had produced evidence of massive failures in compliance with EMC limits such as EN55022B, failures by as much as 40dB. That translates into 100 times the range of interference that is deemed acceptable, i.e. only interfering over 10m or so, but now apparently it's acceptable to do so over 1km.

            The whole premise of power line networking is in error, mains wiring is not sufficiently balanced to suppress radiation when energised in the manner that PLT devices do it. Why do you think that real networking uses cables with 60dB balance between the internal twisted pairs? They don't do it for any reason other than it being essential for reliability and security.

            I do wish that you would have a look at the documented evidence of the problem rather than saying that people with decades of experience of working in the EMC industry (and not just on the gamekeeper side either) are wrong.

          4. Bah!

            Re: Apples and Oranges

            Utter crap! I have serious noise issues and can't hear even most local stations. I have everything engineered to the last filter. I have a rather good station, but cannot hear over the noise. BTW my station is independent of the mains, and I have positively identified the noise source as PLT from 3 neighbours who have disconnected them for me and the noise has gone when they do.

            I am also in the progress of pulling together the resources to video that conclusively prove that they are RF devices radiating over the spectrum, and that they also have inadequate security allowing others to know what data you are sending about the house/street/town - lets just say, I'd never suggest you could or should use them for banking, Wi-Fi is more secure. Furthermore you should know that during a lift it's quite possible to see PLT signals going a lot further than the other side of town - half way around the planet, further increasing the chance of someone scraping your banking details by a money poor and time rich highly intelligent and motivated hacker.

            I don't recommend them on many levels and you shouldn't either.

            With regard to you microwave - microwaves haven't really given HF spectrum noise for decades. Noise around 2.4GHz maybe, but not much below 1GHZ.

        3. Andus McCoatover

          Re: Apples and Oranges

          Oh, Thank You!! You made my day. (@AC 19:25 - 2012-07-03)

          I was beginning to think there was no God, but finally a post from someone who knows what they're talking about.

          Spot on. I salute You, Sir!

      2. Irongut

        Re: Apples and Oranges

        "It's like asking trainspotters to comment on a proposed motorway extension."

        I wasn't aware that train spotters had to take exams about how engines work and how to use them legally and responsibly. Or that many of them worked in the industry.

        Hams may be called Radio Amateurs but there is often very little amateur about them. Many of them work for radio, TV, electronics or phone companies in a technical capacity.

      3. Graham Wilson

        @dogged - - Re: Apples and Oranges

        "you'll see is anecdotal bollocks about Powerline networking"

        This is the Goebbels line -- spin enough bullshit and people will believe you (but unlike Goebbels you're an amateur, as you haven't fooled anyone).

        The fact is you're either provocatively buying an argument or totally clueless, I strongly suspect the latter!

        BPL/PLC/PLT HomePlug etc. is an abomination of a 'technology' in every respect. In fact, it's concept is flawed in so many ways that I contend that it's not even a technology, hence the quotes.

        I'm not going to bother to list the diabolical issues that surround BPL/etc., as they've been well canvassed many times here at El Reg and elsewhere. Clearly, you're the type who can't think for yourself outside matters of self-interest, so you need a good authoritative reference to put you straight: I refer to the NATO document "RTO TECHNICAL REPORT, TR-IST-050, HF Interference, Procedures and Tools", the links of which are in another of my posts to this forum. Methinks however, your mind will be too closed to read it.

        As I've pointed out elsewhere, this is an issue for everyone in communications. Amateurs are the most vocal for reasons that I've also enunciated--which incidentally, shouldn't be the case--but they're far from the only ones worried and complaining about he matter. When we've the likes of NATO, BBC, international broadcasters, radio astronomers and many other communications users worried and complaining then it's bloody clear there's something very wrong with this crap.

        In future, get the real facts first. That way you'll avoid making an arse of yourself in public.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apples and Oranges - not like X10 at all

      It's not like X10 in any way that matters.

      X10 is low bandwidth stuff over the mains and works in a relatively low power relatively controlled manner which makes it relatively easy for it to coexist comfortably with other RF users in the area.

      The stuff being talked about here is neither low bandwidth nor low power, and it is in practical terms impossible for it to coexist comfortably with other legitimate RF users in the area.

    5. Graham Wilson

      @A.C. -- Re: Apples and Oranges

      "The product described here uses the person's in house power wires to transmit data, and (similar to X10) is not likely to extend much beyond their power panel, thus not a great concern to Radio Amateurs."

      "is not likely to extend much beyond their power panel" <== Not so!

      Let's leave amateurs out of the equation for a moment as it can be argued that there's not many of them and they're only engaging in a hobby* anyway. However, there's a more general and significant argument which goes like this: one person or so using HomePlug-type equipment at home won't cause any noticeable interference, (this is essentially true and would cause very little concern), however, when many thousands do so it becomes a substantial problem. Even if these users are widely separated so that clusters of interference won't occur locally, it does cause interference on a global scale by raising the noise floor across large areas of the radio spectrum (it's a bit like the plastics/plastic bags accumulating in the ocean issue).

      Increasing the noise floor across the RF spectrum has serious implications for all sorts of services--not just amateurs. These services are very important services such as emergency communications, government services and the military just to mention a few. Because of the nature of these services, the method of regulation, local rules covering what employees can say, ITU implications etc. it's often very difficult for individuals involved in these organisations to speak out, so it turns out that the amateurs are usually the only ones left to do the shouting for everyone else. (When you think of it, things really suck bigtime in government when officials who should be doing the shouting can no longer speak out with impunity over such issues.)

      Nevertheless, it's of such concern to some organisations that they've had to speak out. NATO is very concerned about the increasing noise floor across the spectrum and the organisation says so in this document:

      RTO TECHNICAL REPORT R-IST-050 HF Interference, Procedures and Tools (Interférences HF, procédures et outils) Final Report of NATO RTO Information Systems Technology (IST)$$TR-IST-050-ALL.pdf or$$TR-IST-050-ALL.pdf

      Noise floor references: Exec Summary; 2-7, para 2; 2-8, para1; 2-10, para 3; Specific BPL/PLC references: 2-14; 2-16 & 2.17, 4-5, 5.2, Annex B.

      The fact is that all forms of BPL/PLC/PLT/HomePlug are and remain a threat to communications services and ultimately should be eliminated/banned.


      * This comment is a little disingenuous, amateur radio operators no longer have the high profile they once did but they're one for the few groups in society who actively work with communications electronics as a hobby. They provide useful communications in an emergency and are a good source of fodder for communications and other technical industries.

      Moreover, because of the nature of their hobby, amateurs have an extensive--almost innate--understanding of the radio spectrum, radio propagation and interference as their communications signals usually are only a few decibels above the background noise. In fact, I've seen cases where radio amateurs have had more knowledge about the subject of RF interference than the professional engineers who were investigating it.

      As electronic circuits and designs continue to become more proprietary and secret and are locked away in corporations (something that was very foreign only a few years ago), across the community, the radio amateurs are probably the last bastion of general electronics knowledge that's still unencumbered and freely available.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't complain

    about all these radio hams messing up my HP networked systems, so why should they complain the opposite.

    I wish they would stop irradiating me with all those radio waves.


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You want to hear about crap?

    "My homeplug doesn't radiate on my house's wiring, therefore they must all be OK" (dogged @ 13:58)

    Utter crap.

    "I don't complain about all these radio hams messing up my HP networked systems, so why should they complain the opposite."

    Because their licensed kit generally conforms to the necessary regulations and is required to coexist with other stuff in a realistic environment. If it doesn't, it gets shut down, banned, or worse. If only the same could be said for the PLT kit.

  13. Aqua Marina

    Hamateur radio?

    Do radio hams still exist? I started off with CB in the early 80s, moving up to a UK Novice license in the early nineties using a friends equipment, RTTY on a Dragon 32, and finally before getting my own full license, it came to an abrupt end. The internet happened and everyone I knew simply moved their activities onto that, forums and IM. For well over a decade I haven't seen a tell-tale radio mast overshadowing a house, so I assumed it'd probably gone the way of the dinosaur.

    Not that I didn't have fun mind. Most of my class at primary school had a CB and a Thunderpole in the back garden. It was our social network. I lived in a rural village, houses and farms spread out, and CB was the backbone of the community. That and "The Grapes" pub and it's front lawn that had a 2nd function as the local community green where all fetes were held.

    Pirate for obvious reasons

    1. DryBones

      Re: Hamateur radio?

      Come now... A simple search on yon Internet will show things are still nicely active. At least with those that would like to be able to communicate long distances without touching the Internet, in case for example of natural disaster. In the States it's called ARES, amateur radio emergency system. Granted, HF can be more like chatroulette, but some like that for the surprise.

      So yes, the advantages of the internet are information density, and consistent contact.

      1. Andus McCoatover

        Re: Hamateur radio?

        Had a jovial argument with my sister recently. Qualifications? Corporal in Royal Signals. For a laugh, we e-mailed each other in morse. (That's a dichotomy in itself!). First, try to type ..././.-../.-../---/ without typing the actual letter...

        The argument was that I keep my Morse skills OK, but she said that, with the Bowman battlefield communication system, they don't need it. They do have an intermediate system, whose name I forget (SIGINT??) using one-time pads, I think..I may well need correction here.

        Her argument was Bowman is far more secure. I was going to wobble on about R-GSM, but I wondered how useful that Bowman would be with a bullet in it.

        The more I waited for her reply, the more it didn't come.

        Point. Morse, and other forms (Semaphore - I learnt it from a Girl Guide, even though I was in the Boy Scouts...) are simply lifesavers in time of an emergency.

        International distress sign if you're in trouble on the sea - hold your arms up in a Y shape (don't flap 'em about, can be taken as a cheery wave)

        Knowledge of this kind of rubbish may save your life. More importantly, your families' lives. My kids know it.


  14. jaycee331

    YouView vs Windows Media Centre + TunerfreeMCE

    .................................................................................................................. YV.....MCE/TF

    A common front end user interface for ALL UK TV catch up services...... 1......... 1

    The ability to do the above since 2008...................................................... 0......... 1

    The ability to take your chances with WiFi connection............................. 0......... 1

    Not have viewing habits data-mined for behavioural advertising............. 0......... 1

    Choice of Freeview HD or Freesat HD for primary broadcast content..... 0......... 1

    Freeview and Freesat carry on working if broadband is down................... ?......... 1

    The ability to access US IPTV services over VPN................................... 0........ 1

    The ability to purchase VOD content....................................................... 1......... 0

    Ease of use for the technically challenged............................................... 1......... 0

    So in short, I've already been enjoying the majority benefits of the YouView service for 4+ years thanks to a mini-PC under the telly. The question now is price. If YV STP's stick to the rumoured £300 ballpark, the challenge is to build a legit Win7 PC to go under the telly for a similar cost and I'm quietly confident that is achieveable. Sure I'll lose out of the premium subscription content, but I'm a freetard and wouldn't be buying any anyway. If I did fancy a Lovefilm or Netflix subscription, my TV has support for both integrated anyway.

    The only thing I can see YV succeeding on is if they carry BT's new Premier League channel and it isn't wholesaled to other platforms - a killer app. But that's about it. How's the YV business model work anyway? Ok, there'll be a comission on any PayTV content, but the take up on the pay-for-extras remains to be proven, as BT already found out to their cost having first launched BT Vision as a subscription-free service, hoping that people would buy some premium VOD. Presumably they didn't given BT Vision changed to a monthly subscription model. A one off STB purchase isn't going to perpetually fund the infrastructure behind the service, so I have a running theory that YV will attempt to inject personalised advertising into your otherwise free and unfettered UK TV catchup viewing for a recurring profit, and charge the user £300 for the priviledge! No thanks!

    1. Irongut

      Re: YouView vs Windows Media Centre + TunerfreeMCE

      I built an Atom powered HTPC running W7 earlier this year for just under £300 including WiFi, TV tuner and remote control. So if the YouView boxes are £300 you can definitely build a more functional PC for the same price.

    2. Fuzz

      Re: YouView vs Windows Media Centre + TunerfreeMCE

      Whilst I appreciate the effort that has gone into TFMCE it only really works for BBC content that can be streamed using wmv. I can't remember a time I've ever got it to successfully play a flash stream there's always a box you have to click on or a tick that needs placing in a box before it will open up full screen. I always end up grabbing the mouse and loading up a web browser. The other problem is that it never seems to be up to date.

    3. McBread

      Re: YouView vs Windows Media Centre + TunerfreeMCE

      Those who want to build a small form factor PC, configure the software and have it under their television are always going to be a 'special interest minority'. So your PC is completely the wrong comparison.

      The masses want something a low-hassle, off-the-shelf device. Its competitors are Smart TVs (walled gardens at the mercy of whoever made the device), game consoles, BT Vision, whatever Sky bring to the market, etc.

      As for it's business plans, remember it's not a single monolithic identity. Youview LTD is not-for-profit so just needs to turn over enough to keep developing the spec and running the root servers. The expensive bandwidth-hungry-content-spewing-media-servers will be run by the respective content providers; so the iplayer servers will be funded by the licence fee, ITVplayer/4oD/Demand5 will be funded using the same adverts as they use to fund their websites, BT will be looking at some subscription system, etc.

      Don't view it as a particular product from a particular company at a particular time. It's more of an attempt to create an ecosystem that can develop and grow. Only time will tell if it success or fail, but if it is the former, expect 'Youview Compatible' to slowly become ubiquitous in all TVs, Freeview and Freesat boxes.

  15. Jim 59

    @dogged- HAMs

    "they are amateurs with some very dangerous opinions about what causes RF signal modulation and usually no training in proper testing and frequency analysis."

    Never met a radio ham personally, but I think the average ham has a electronics degree, a room full of books, many years of experience and some serious intellectual horsepower, besides the ham certification. And if there was no issue with PLT, why would they raise it ?

    1. andyham
      IT Angle

      Re: @dogged- HAMs

      yo have never meta radio ham personally so you cannot comment on what your saying , if it was not for radio hams the mobile phone, tv satallite coms all this stuff would never have benn invented .

      radiohams know a lot more about rf that you do . plus these guys have been ising radio without causing interference for a very long time and thye do know how to fix it , plts do not conform to the standards and devices severaltimes now suppied by bt have had to be removed form the market and changed deu to the problems they cause.

      I f you get an ofcom visit because of your plt device causing rf spectrum abuse you can get fined and sent to prison , as there are other services using these bands as well ie cosatgaurd/police around 150mhz, airtraffic 118mhz to 130mhz all deivces could and can cuase problems there as well , you also have the miltary freq on hf whch means you may get yourself in alot of trouble.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who knows what a "leaky feeder" is?

    Do readers (including dogged) know what a leaky feeder is?

    Take a bit of shielded coax cable. Coax is normally well screened (both ways); it neither lets much unwanted signal in, nor lets out much of the signal inside.

    Strategically wreck the coax screening a bit and you've got a "leaky feeder". You can inject a signal at one and it will leak out to some extent depending on the damage (and external signals will leak in). This has valid uses, e.g. it allows broadcast of radio in tunnels etc; an RF transmitter is connected to a leaky feeder along the tunnel and enough signal leaks out for radios to work, all the way along the tunnel.

    Now think about the same basic setup except with mains cable rather than leaky feeder. The PLT device is the RF transmitter, and its equivalent of coax with holes is unscreened unbalanced domestic mains cable.

    How can it NOT splatter RF everywhere in the general case? There may be a few idealised special cases where the RF doesn't radiate as much as it might in real usage, and a few historic ones (lead covered mains cable?) but the general concept of HomePlug is defective by design, if you happen to believe that clean RF spectrum is a resource worth preserving (eg so VDSL has a chance of working).

    1. Christian Berger

      Re: Who knows what a "leaky feeder" is?

      Actually the hope is that typical cabling is more or less like twisted pair, and therefore shouldn't radiate to much. Again that highly depends on the quality of your cabling.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who knows what a "leaky feeder" is?

        "typical cabling is more or less like twisted pair, and therefore shouldn't radiate to much. Again that highly depends on the quality of your cabling."

        Really? There are people who genuinely believe that rubbish (with or without the caveat about quality of cabling)?

        Anyone who seriously wants to believe that mains wiring (and connected kit) has any worthwhile resemblance to balanced twisted pair (with properly terminated connections), in terms of RF emissions behaviour, is either mad or financially benefiting from a PLT company. Possibly both.

        There is plenty of independent experimental evidence to discredit the idea that mains cable == twisted pair at these frequencies.

        In fact it's hard enough getting cheapo voice-grade phone cables to behave properly like twisted pair at the kind of frequencies in question here (the kind of frequencies, and maybe cables, which "superfast broadband" relies on being clean and low noise).

        If you can find any plausible evidence that supports the theory that a few metres of (eg) 30Amp twin+earth mains cable in any way resembles balanced twisted pair at 0->30MHz rather than 60Hz (or 50Hz), I'd be very interested.

        1. Andus McCoatover

          Re: Who knows what a "leaky feeder" is?

          Oh, Luv'a'Duck.

          I wonder how many folks have been surprised that their iphone/fondleslab/Nokia-piece-of-history/whatever works fine in a metal Faraday Shield?

          Oh, wait.

          We call them 'Lifts' nowadays. (I'd say 'Elevator' rather than the British version, but given the date...didn't think I'd get a sober response)

          Leaky feeders to the rescue! Actually you don't need to carefully 'damage' the co-ax for it to be 'leaky'.

          Simply outsource the cable manufacturing. Job done!

  17. Andus McCoatover

    Downvoting day, it seems.

    I think it'd be nice for El Reg. to have an icon for a 'downvote' that displays a left-handed-website mouse.

    Press that to downvote....Make My Day!

  18. JohnMurray

    O£COM survey on PLT:

  19. andyham
    IT Angle


    go to amaozon spend 30 quid on an ethernet to wifi i use that for sky pbox plt does cause nise problems as the devices are not always notch proerly and the trun the wiring of the house into a big antenna.

    As a ahm and it eng i can say plts if causing interference have to be investigated now by ofcom/bbc but the wifif equivalent is jsut as good here is the entgear one on amazon (and you can plug a switch in if you ahve multiple devices to be fed off that one wifi

  20. Alan Bourke

    There are still radio hams?

    Who knew.

  21. jason 7

    Have to say I'm kind of in agreement. I don't know anyone that's a ham radio user or would admit to it.

    I don't know any dodos or sabre tooth tigers either. I guess they all died out.

    I do know many many folks that need to push their data round their houses so I guess they win over these mythical Hams.

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