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Letters to the editor 3/17

March 17, 2005

Go slow on powerline 'Net


To the editor:

The Antietam Radio Association is announcing its opposition to the installation of a Broadband Power Line or BPL network in the City of Hagerstown.

The Antietam Radio Association membership includes residents of the City of Hagerstown, as well as Washington County. In a letter to the City Council, we presented several reasons the Amateur Radio Operators in this area oppose the implementation of this experimental mode of broadband internet access. The main reason cited is the interference BPL will generate once the system is in operation.

BPL is the transmission of data using the power companies' electric lines to send radio signals to specialized radio receivers mounted on the electric companies' poles. Using the electrical wiring in your house to create a network, the signals are then converted for computers to access the Internet.

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The problem with the system is the radio frequencies used are in the range of 2mhz to 80mhz, and these frequencies are being sent over the power lines either underground or above ground. The users of these frequencies include public or emergency services, radio control equipment, personal radio services, short-wave radio broadcasts and the Amateur Radio Service.

Although the BPL industry has said it does not cause interference, tests conducted by the American Radio Relay League engineers on experimental installations in other cities have proven they have not been able to contain the radio signals to prevent interference.

The interference is similar to the sounds heard when a radio is placed near a computer. It sounds something like a pulsating, buzzing sound, and depending on the distance, it can be louder than a legitimate radio signal. The BPL industry has also stated it can lock out certain frequencies when it knows they cause interference. Monitoring of frequencies by American Radio Relay League members has proven the frequency lockout is not eliminating the interference.

The BPL industry is a new industry with no established standards, and most installations are licensed as experimental by the FCC.

The FCC has made public more than 650 pages of technical presentations, correspondence and filings that it says it used in making its decision. Approximately 150 pages of the documentation consisted of technical material and presentations by FCC staffers. The remaining 500-plus pages include correspondence, technical reports and interference complaints from radio amateurs to the FCC.

Falling into the last category is extensive correspondence involving the Alliant Energy BPL field trial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That pilot project was abandoned after difficulties in resolving interference issues with local radio amateurs proved insurmountable.

It should be noted that although we oppose the implementation of this project we are not opposed to new technology such as broadband service for Hagerstown residents.

Herman Niedzielski

Hagerstown




Contractors need some remodeling


To the editor:

The building boom is on in Washington County. Although this is a great time for contractors, what has it meant for the average homeowner? Have you tried to get an estimate for work on your property? Have you stayed home from work waiting for the contractor to show up, only to have no one come?

Have you called contractors for an estimate, only to get an answering machine - and then no one calls you back? Have you signed contracts for work to be done, but are unsuccessful in getting a commitment on when the work will be started?

Worse yet, have you gone through the above-mentioned painful process of getting estimates and signing a contract only to never see the contractor and have your phone calls and letters go unanswered?

If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," it's time to stop these unsavory business practices. Take the time to lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. It may be the best investment of your time. If enough complaints come in about a contractor, it may impact business enough to force a change.

A good contractor will respect customers and keep them informed, show respect by returning phone calls, keep appointments and will not be put off by small jobs. As a person who operated my own contracting business for a number of years in Maryland, I know it's the decent thing to do, and it financially pays off in the long run.

Hettie Ballweber

Boonsboro




Turn it down


To the editor:

Every day, one of our neighbors blares music so loud you can hear it miles away. Now I'm not against music, but I am against this intrusion. They do this three times a day, every day of the year - well over 70 hours worth a year!

We have done the neighborly thing, and politely asked them to reconsider their need to blare their music, but to no avail.

Since they evidently don't care about being responsible neighbors, does that give me the right to disrupt their church services the same amount of time they disrupt my life? That would be over an hour and 20 minutes worth a week. And that's only one church.

If a satanic church opens up, will we be subjected to screams from hell three times a day? I certainly hope that those in charge take some responsibility and revisit their decision to disrupt the neighborhoods with their self-serving music. If they don't, perhaps it's time our representatives start to regulate their behavior.

Dave Siuta

Keedysville

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