Proposed changes to in-home PLT regulation | ACMA

Proposed changes to in-home PLT regulation

The ACMA has completed a review of the regulatory arrangements for the supply of in-home powerline telecommunications (PLT) devices.

The review arose from a stakeholder request to adopt the European technical standard EN50561-1 as an applicable electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) standard for in-home PLT devices. EN50561-1 is a technical standard published by CENELEC that applies to in-home PLT devices operating up to 30 MHz. The ACMA was also asked to adopt EN50561-3, which applies to in-home PLT devices that operate up to 80 MHz. During the assessment of the suitability of EN50561-1, the ACMA became aware of the interference risk from in-home PLT devices to VDSL2 and G.fast broadband access technologies.

The review included public consultation and a stakeholder workshop. Submissions to the consultation are available on the PLT consultation page.

After considering the submissions received and the findings of its own research, the ACMA found that:

  • There appears to be systemic non-compliance across the in-home PLT device market. In particular, suppliers of in-home PLT devices have been unable to produce test reports demonstrating compliance with CISPR22, which has been the applicable EMC standard.
  • Despite the systemic non-compliance and the high volume supply of in-home devices to the Australian market over the past 10 years, the ACMA has not received any complaints of interference to radiocommunications services caused by in-home PLT devices.
  • The level of modification required to in-home PLT devices to ensure compliance with CISPR22 would significantly compromise the performance of the devices.
  • The lead Australian EMC technical committee, Standards Australia technical committee TE-003, does not believe that EN50561-1 is a suitable technical standard in Australia to manage the risk of interference from in-home PLT devices to radiocommunications services.
  • Laboratory testing observed by the ACMA has confirmed that there is an interference risk to VDSL2 and G.fast services under certain operating conditions. Laboratory tests indicate that, where a service is provided at the ‘highest rate’ (that is, 100/40 Mbs), the performance of the broadband system in a ‘worst case’ scenario can be degraded by around 50 per cent.

ACMA decision

The ACMA proposes to:

  • Adopt EN50561-1 as an applicable EMC standard for the supply of in-home PLT devices. The ACMA considers that, based on the evidence obtained, the benefits of adopting the standard sufficiently outweigh the potential risks posed by the standard. The adoption of the standard will provide suppliers of in-home PLT devices with a standard that is specific to these devices rather than having to rely on the current generic IT technical standard, CISPR 22.
  • Provide information for consumers that will identify and explain the potential risks of using in-home PLT devices.
  • Provide information for industry (including carriers, operators of VDSL2/G.fast systems, retail service providers, PLT equipment suppliers and the cabling industry) that highlights the existence of interference risks. The ACMA will also recommend retail service providers develop operational procedures to assist customers to recognise and remediate interference and performance issues.
  • Not adopt EN50561-3 at the current time. Despite support from some PLT equipment suppliers to adopt this standard, the ACMA believes that, at this stage, there is insufficient evidence to support the adoption of EN50561-3. Unlike EN50561-1, the standard has yet to be adopted in Europe. The ACMA also understands that PLT equipment suppliers do not have any impending devices that would require compliance with EN50561-3.
  • Continue to work with carriers and PLT equipment suppliers to assess the interference risk to VDSL2 and G.fast, as well as monitor the development and implementation of the ITU-T recommendation G.9977. ITU-T Recommendation G.9977 is being developed by the International Telecommunication Union Standardisation Sector to mitigate the interference risks between in-home PLT devices and VDSL2 and G.fast systems.

The proposed decision to adopt EN50561-1 into the ACMA EMC arrangements is not intended to establish a precedent for the relaxation of EMC limits for any other technology or product. Any request for the adoption of a prospective new EMC standard will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Interested parties are invited to comment on the proposed decision. Comments should be emailed to powerline.telecommunications@acma.gov.au by COB, Friday 24 June 2016.

Last updated: 09 June 2016