Spotlights broadband internet service

The company, the sole transmitter and distributor of electricity services in the country has signaled its intention to approach the Telecommunica-tions Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) for clearance to provide broadband Internet services.

Carol Balkaran, Tariff Analyst at the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) said TTEC plans to deploy the service utilising a Broadband over Power Line (BPL) Technology Platform which also has regulatory implications for RIC and TATT.

“BPL is a technology that offers exciting possibilities for TTEC. It can provide a host of internal benefits that can improve the performance of the service provider. If the service is to be offered commercially then it can possibly enhance the competitiveness of the broadband market in Trinidad and Tobago, “ Balkaran said.

“However, there are a number of regulatory issues which will arise that can affect both the RIC and TATT and for which both regulators need to be prepared...however, both regulators must be guided as well by the internal country demands and will need to study all aspects of these issues so that appropriate solutions can be formulated,” she added.

BPL, also called Power Line Communications or PLC combines the technological principles of radio, wireless networking, and modems to send data over power lines at speeds equivalent to those of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and cable.

The Federal Communica-tions Commission (FCC) of the US defines two types of BPL. Access BPL deliver high speed Internet and other broadband services over utilities medium voltage (1000-40000 volts) power lines to homes and businesses and In-house BPL which facilitates the implementation of home networks.

In terms of regulatory implications, Balkaran identified three issues that are likely to be of major concern in Trinidad and Tobago. These were technical, cost and revenue allocation as well as cross subsidy issues and Pole Attachment and Open Access, including safety issues.

BPL Technology, she said raises a number of technical issues including interference/ emissions, attenuation, noise, and problems with data security.

However, the main issue of regulatory importance is that of interference/emissions.

Balkaran explained that electromagnetic emissions from BPL, which travels via ionospheric propagation, can impact negatively on users in the lower portion of the very high frequency band (VHF) or HF 3-30 MHz .

“These users include commercial shortwave broadcasts, commercial aviation, maritime communications, citizen end users and even the military, “ she added. Since TATT has responsibility for management of the spectrum, including the licensing of those wishing to offer radio communication services and is also responsible for ensuring that radio communication equipment not be operated in a manner that is likely to cause harmful interference with other users of telecommunication services, it would be responsible for resolving the issue of interference by BPL services.

Balkaran said TATT could draw on the experience of the FCC and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to minimise interference.

At a minimum, TATT should conduct testing to ascertain compliance to the radio emission standards by a service provider. If harmful interference occurs then steps must be taken by the BPL service provider to redress this.

TATT can specify the frequency bands within which BPL must operate and/or establish the bands within which BPL must avoid operating entirely, especially to protect aircraft receivers communications, require that BPL providers employ BPL devices that can be remotely adjusted or shut down, specify operating power limits for BPL devices and establish a BPL notification data base to facilitate an organised approach to identification and resolution of harmful interference.

TATT can also establish appropriate Electromagnetic Compatibility specifications and emission limits and require that all BPL systems installed in the MV and LV distribution system must have particular features, which will enhance the service performance and reliability, and also inhibit possible interferences to the users of other frequencies.

These features are Frequency notching, Freq-uency band blocking and Power Adjustment.


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