Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ministry of Transport writes whatever about broadband

The Ministry of Transport has published a draft plan for bringing broadband services to "geographically remote" areas by 2008 using European Union Regional Development Funds in the amount of around LVL 4.3 million. The total cost of the project will be above LVL 6 million.
The whole document is both interesting and strange. It discusses the problem of defining broadband and settles for it being an "always on" connection to the internet, without defining the speed (elsewhere, the report notes, broadband starts at 2 Mbps). It also notes that the main reason for slow broadband take-up in Latvia is limited buying power and little cost/benefit from having a broadband line. Rural residents can't save travel costs and file documents with national and municipal authorities. The only possible savings is in using the internet for making voice calls abroad. The problem of poverty, to be sure, cannot be solved by the MoT alone and will probably not change by 2008.
Then the report goes on to take a cursory look at various broadband technologies and dwells at some length on power line communications (PCL), or running the internet on electrical power grids, It appears that this is the technology the MoT thinks will solve the problem of broadband access in the "geographically remote areas" (not defined in the document)/
However, Latvenergo, the only supplier of rural electricity has serious doubts that this will work. For one thing, there would have to be repeaters hung on long stretches of medium-voltage transmission lines and step-down transformers (from 20 kilovolts to 220 volts to power these.) Ovum analyst Mark Main also told this blogger (who was wearing his reporter hat at the time) that PCL was a difficult and dodging technology at best. It had been tried and abandoned by a power utility in Scotland.
The MoT mentions, in passing, that WiMAX technology with a radius for high-speed internet of around 10 kilometers, is also under development.
In short, there is no clear idea of how to bring fast, always on internet to the shack in the woods, and a better defined idea that whoever lives in the shack couldn't afford it or can't be persuaded of it's advantages, even if it was there.
If you ask me, I would look to Lattelekom's efforts to get some cdma450 spectrum (or cooperate with Triatel) to get wireless voice and internet to at least some rural residents who don't have it. Further down the road, there's WIMAX, maybe..


there's said...

no public document on some web site? overview??

Juris Kaža said...

If you read Latvian, look under,you can find it as part of the agenda, I think (it was printed by a colleague who uses this site more often than I).

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