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FCC Can’t Cherry Pick Studies On BPL Service

WASHINGTON (CN) - The D.C. Circuit ordered the Federal Communications Commission to release portions of five scientific studies it had redacted after using the studies to create regulations for broadband-over-power-lines Internet, or BPL.

In 2004 the FCC adopted a rule that purportedly encouraged the development of high-speed BPL Internet service, while protecting radio operators involved with public safety, maritime, radio-astronomy, aeronautical navigation and amateur radio from transmission interference.

The American Radio Relay League, representing amateur and ham radio operators, sued the FCC over the recent rule, claiming it failed to adequately protect their transmissions.

The group also accused the agency of flouting federal administrative procedure law. When adopting the rule, the FCC had relied on five scientific studies that measured BPL's interference with other radio operators. It released the studies during the period for public comment, but later redacted portions of them, explaining that they were "internal" communications.

The 2-1 majority reviewed the redacted portions and found no reason for the agency to redact them.

"It is one thing for the Commission to give notice and make available for comment the studies on which it relied in formulating the rule while explaining its non-reliance on certain parts," Judge Rogers wrote. "It is quite another thing to provide notice and an opportunity for comment on only those parts of the studies that the Commission likes best."

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