Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Powerful Communication

Powerful Communication

Since the Last Mile is still a problem for local telecommunications operators hoping to reach every household in the country, utilising electricity infrastructure to deliver communications services over power lines is a new mission for the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA), to make broadband Internet access a reality for people all around the nation.

Published on December 18, 2007

While telecommunications infrastructure does not yet reach every village, especially in remote areas, PEA had the idea to use its infrastructure to deliver a new communication service to people, said Wichian Leewarinpanich, deputy director of PEA's ICT business development department.

PEA provides electricity services to more than 19.3 million households in the nation, accounting for around 99 per cent of the total area. With its infrastructure that can now reach even villages in distant areas, the authority plans to use the new broadband over power lines (BPL) technology to make broadband Internet services available to people.

Wichian said that with BPL, people could get easy access to the Internet through their electrical outlets at home. Just by plugging a computer into any electrical outlet, through a modem they could instantly access the world of the Internet.

By combining the technological principles of radio, wireless networking and modems, electricity operators can send data over power lines and into homes at speeds between 500 kilobits and 3 megabits per second, equivalent to DSL and cable.

BPL technology transmits data in the range of 2 to 30 megahertz through medium-voltage power lines. However, to make data travel long distances before it degrades, special devices are installed on the lines to act as repeaters. The repeaters take in the data and repeat it in a new transmission, amplifying it for the next leg of the journey.

Wichian said this technology would allow broadband Internet to reach every part of the community because anywhere there was electricity, there could be broadband. During the past year, he said, the authority began testing a new broadband service over power lines.

The first trial was conducted with 20 households in the Pattaya area while the second was done with 10 households in Pathum Thani province for three months.

In the tests, the download speed was 1.2 megabits per second while the upload speed was 381 kilobits per second.

In this early stage, Wichian said the authority had found some problems with the stability of the network. Before making the service commercial, PEA had to conduct more tests to make everything ready when it came into commercial use.

The authority also plans next year to begin a new series of tests and now it's working on plans to find appropriate areas.

"We're exploring the proper BPL system to implement. We hope that after being an electricity provider, we can also in the future become a new network provider offering broadband Internet to people across the nation," he said.

In addition to PEA, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority is also conducting trials of BPL technology as it hopes that it will be able to offer broadband services through electricity infrastructure to the metropolitan area.

Pongpen Sutharoj

The Nation

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