|Emerging broadband technology and the developing countries
|G.D. Gaiha and V.Partha Sarathy
|Chairman and Managing Director, and Director (Projects)
|TCIL India, TCIL Board
G. D. Gaiha is the Chairman and Managing Director of Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL), a fully owned Government of India Public Sector Undertaking. As officer of Indian Telecom Service, Mr Gaiha has worked in different capacities in the Department of Telecommunications. Before joining TCIL, Mr Gaiha was Director (Technical) of the MTNL Board in New Delhi. Mr Gaiha has held many important posts in the Department of Telecommunication and has worked as an ITU expert in Pyongyang, North Korea, and Libya, training local professionals in digital transmission. V. Partha Sarathy is Director (Projects) on the Board of TCIL. Mr Sarathy is an officer of Indian Telecommunication Service. Mr Sarathy served previously in the Telecommunication Research Centre, Telecom Commission, Bombay/Faridabad Telecom District. Mr Sarathy was responsible for introducing electronic switching technology for Telex and data networks and for an optical fibre cable-manufacturing factory, near Chennai, that supplies cables for India’s Telecom Infrastructure and exports to many foreign countries. Mr Sarathy is responsible for TCIL’s projects worldwide, with about 20 active operations in countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Algeria, Afghanistan and Nepal.
The Government of India has given top priority to the expansion of broadband, considered to be essential to India’s economic growth and the elevation of its population’s standard of living. Broadband, over legacy networks, has had little success due both to technical problems and to its limited ability to reach much of the population. FTTH (Fibber-to-the-Home) is today’s best alternative. A single fibber to the end user provides up to four telephone lines, four data ports and video.
Broadband service, today, is seen as a facilitator of the convergence of the three separate streams of communications, computing and broadcasting. In the initial stage, narrowband services were promoted by the Internet which used access through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) on dialup ports at speeds of up to 56Kbps. Using the dialup network with standard analogue modems, speeds up to 56Kbps can be achieved and, using ISDN, speeds up to 64 or 128 Kbps can be achieved by using one or both of the dual digital channels available with ISDN technology. Leased lines provide high-speed access in multiples of 64Kbps, but a cost-effective solution is needed to give true broadband access for a larger segment of the public. Broadband access is any transmission speed greater than the minimum 56Kbps. The broadband value chain includes, starting with the consumer, the private networks, and goes up to the carrier level. For private networks, broadband starts at 2 Mbps and, at carrier level, it goes up to Gigabits per second. On the basis of applications, the broadband market can be divided into following segments: √ Consumer market; √ Small to Medium Enterprises market (SME); √ Large enterprise market; √ Carrier market. For the consumer market, broadband services are provided by Internet service providers and Telcos using their copper access networks and technologies such as xDSL or leased lines. Cable service providers also provide broadband services over their coaxial networks to support bi-directional flows of data. The services that must be supported are high-speed Internet access, data, video and voice–as VoIP–as a cost effective means of communication. The small and medium enterprise market needs high speed Internet connectivity, and uses broadband access to create Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to link multiple company locations and operations. The large-scale enterprises normally use private networks. Their specific needs include high-speed Internet access, e-commerce, corporate access, video conferencing and business-to-business networks. The carrier segment includes ISPs, Telcos, cable service providers, broadband service providers, call centres and the like. Our experience shows that there is another segment of the broadband technology market, which works to promote e-Governance networks in developing countries like India. Broadband services The following services all require broadband access: 1. High speed Internet access, which is considered the basic and underlying service of the broadband networks; 2. High-speed data transfer such as for corporate access, telecomputing, telecommuting, data centre services, telemedicine, VPN services, distance learning, etc.; 3. Video services such as interactive TV, video streaming, video on demand, CATV, high-definition TV, video conferencing and so forth; 4. Packetised voice services for applications such as Voice over Internet Protocol, Voice over ATM/Frame Relay. Broadband access network Several technologies have been introduced to provide the user with a service using either wireline or wireless networks. The need for a cost effective access medium is driven by the wish to cater to the large market consisting of residential consumers and, as well, to large and medium scale enterprises, big business houses, long distance service providers, etc. Wireline access technologies: 1. ISDN; 2. Leased lines with high-speed modems; 3. Frame relay; 4. XDSL (HDSL, SDSL, ADSL, VDSL, ADSL, etc.); 5. Metro Access Network (IP over Ethernet); 6. Co-axial cable network; 7. Fibber-to-the-Home (FTTH). Broadband has a large role to play providing new applications and services and improving the present ones. Legacy infrastructure networks, using copper networks for DSL or coaxial cable networks for cable modem based broadband applications, have not been very successful due to inherent problems in the networks. The wire line connections constitute 90 per cent of today’s broadband connections, but wireless technologies are slowly growing. Wireless access technologies: 1. LMDS; 2. MMDS; 3. Wireless LAN. Local Multipoint Distribution System (LMDS) is a fixed wireless point-to-multi-point architecture which can provide customer access to data at speeds of 64Kbps to 7.5Mbps or upwards, depending on the modulation technique. This service can be used to provide all voice, video, data and Internet services for a limited geographical area. Multi-channel Multipoint Distribution System (MMDS) is used in place of a cable TV network. It uses a satellite antenna to receive TV signals from different TV channels and then re-transmits the multi-channel programming to customers on a terrestrial network. Wireless LAN, called Wi-Fi, works using the 802.11b technology standard and supports up to 11Mbps speed for a distance of 100 metres. There are many technologies, as mentioned above, for broadband networks. Technologies such as xDSL (SDSL, HDSL, ADSL, VDSL, etc.), broadband on co-axial cable network, LMDS, MMDS, point-to-point fibber, passive optical networks based on ATM or Ethernet all work. Consequently, the choice of broadband technology is best made on the basis of network topology, customer needs, existing broadband facilities, backbone network availability–including available national and international bandwidth–and financial viability. Broadband using the cable TV network has not taken off very well due to near absence of bi-directional networks and the introduction and acceptance of DTH (Direct-to-Home) satellite networks. Wireless technologies such as LMDS and MMDS have not gained popularity because, generally speaking, networks of adequate bandwidth have not been available, the customer base is scattered and wireless standards are still evolving. ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) technology was developed to provide broadband and narrowband services on the existing copper network. ADSL technology, however, can only provide service within a limited distance from the telephone exchange. This is due both to the poor quality of the available copper networks and the inherent physical limitations of the technology. The FTTH (Fibber-to-the-Home) is now the best solution available today. This technology can handle all the currently projected future applications, including large volumes of high-speed data and video. With FTTH technology, as with all other converged networks, voice is transmitted on national and international networks as packets of data, using VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol. With VoIP, voice is transmitted on the same networks as data and images; the use of one network for all traffic reduces the service provider’s costs and greatly reduces the cost of voice calls. A single fibber to the end-user provides a slew of high-speed bundled services across standard interfaces. Its applications include narrow band services, symmetric broadband services (video conferencing, Intranet, tele-consulting) and asymmetric broadband services (high speed Internet, digital broadcast services, video-on-demand, distance learning, telecommuting, telemedicine, content based services). The Ministry of Communications & IT of the Government of India has given top priority to broadband networks that reach out to the entire country, and has announced a broadband policy, which is being vigorously implemented. Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL), a fully Government Of India owned Company, has engineered a Fibber-to-the-Home (FTTH) solution called ‘TCIL FiberNet’, in association with leading US technology vendors, to provide triple play services (data, audio and video) on a single fibber to the subscriber. The first such solution was successfully implemented recently in Kuwait City, for the Kuwait Ministry of Communications; it is the first such multimedia network in the Middle East. The project has been executed in the record time of 16 weeks as specified by Kuwait’s Ministry. The solution provides for the following: √ Broadband access facility for voice, data/Internet and video connection right at the subscriber’s premises on a single fibber; √ The service provides up to four telephones, two to four data ports–for Internet and for streaming video and one RF video on broadcast mode–all on a single LMG (Last Mile Gateway). Data streams, with a maximum up to 500Mbps, can be sent or received; √ The data ports can also be used for connecting IP Telephones directly. All these devices can be operated in plug-and-play mode; √ Network maintenance cost is greatly reduced and manual intervention is eliminated. Optical fibber cables are not affected by rain or other environmental conditions, and are not prone to theft. They are also free from electro-magnetic interference; √ The solution can be used to provide services to remote subscribers up to 80kms (50 miles) away from the main switching centre and can, accordingly, provide state-of-the-art services even in rural areas; √ The service can also be used as ‘Fibber-to-the-Building’, where connectivity can be provided to an entire office-building complex. FTTH is a very economical solution; it enables standards-based delivery of video, voice and data over a single fibber to businesses and homes. An IP/MPLS-based (Internet Protocol/ Multi-Protocol Label Switching) architecture provides symmetrical, guaranteed bandwidth of 30Mbps per subscriber, under fully loaded conditions. This permits multimedia voice, data and video services on a single fibber, as well as flexible and powerful quality of service (QoS) management. Through its full support of Layer 3 switching and DiffServ (Differentiated Services) priority classification, the solution seamlessly integrates with the QoS architecture of a service provider’s backbone network. A FTTH network is planned for a suburban area near New Delhi. It will be a forerunner for fibber-based broadband services in India, ready to tap emerging applications and services as they become available. The FTTH/premises solution extends broadband connectivity and can provide a wide variety of services for the population of developing countries like India. Because of the assured symmetrical bandwidth, right up to the premises even in remote areas, services such as telemedicine, tele-education and the like can be delivered to enhance the quality of life. Market information, other commercial services and e-Governance applications can also stimulate economic growth and prosperity. It is an instance of high-tech serving society by making possible a better standard of living for the common man.