Technical Topics, June 2003
The Next Threat To SW Listeners
(And What You Can Do To Help)
It seems like every few years I feel obligated to warn NASWA members of a new threat to our ability to listen to shortwave radio. I remember my first Tech Topics column over a decade ago concerned the interference potential of RF excited light bulbs that GE was getting ready to market. As President Ronald Reagan said, "Well, there you go again."
The latest communications fad is a way of transmitting high data rate internet traffic over your house electrical wiring and the wires that connect your house to a nearby pole. There is a standard, developed by an industry consortium called the HomePlug Alliance, that plans to use the HF spectrum between 2 and 30 MHz for this connection. You plug your modem into a convenient power outlet. A similar modem near your service transformer picks the signals off the power line and converts them to a series of light pulses which travel via fiber optic cable to the internet interface. Because the power wiring in residential settings is unshielded, these signals will radiate and may cause interference to SW reception.