My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Senator Phillip Paulwell and PowerLine Broadband - Ice Station Zebra

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Senator Phillip Paulwell and PowerLine Broadband - Ice Station Zebra


Man is but a reed, the weakest in Nature, but he is a thinking reed

Pascal, Pensees, VI

After a successful innings in which Senator Philip Paulwell, PNP (People’s National Party) Spokesperson for IT and Telecoms issues successfully and excellently batted for the use of Nuclear Power in Jamaica as stated in my blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell's Nuclear Power in a Bathtub - SilkWood meets the China Syndrome”, Senator Phillip Paulwell has killed his own wicket.

Albeit Senator Philip Paulwell is the father of the Telecoms Sector Liberalization resplendent in the Telecommunications Act of 2000, from time to time, politicians put their mouths in their foot. Nothing wrong with that, I say, as anything that can get JPS Co to agree to Energy Sector Liberalization and thus introduce competition in the Energy Sector would be welcome.

But this puzzling change of tactic is strange, as Senator Philip Paulwell’s arguments for Nuclear Power in Jamaica were actually doing the same thing as I had pointed in my blog article entitled “Nuclear Power and Net Metering - Paulwell's Energy Sector Liberalization Chess Game”.

Especially seeing as Nuclear was cleaner than Coal as stated in the article “Superstition: Nuclear Power versus Coal”, published Friday March 18, 2011, Editorial, The Jamaican Gleaner.

This as Senator Philip Paulwell was then subsequently joined by as Professor Dr. Gerald Lalor, University of the West Indies Lecturer and Director-General for the International Centre for Environment and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) and Zia Mian, Director of OUR (Office of the Utilities Regulation) in strident calls for Nuclear Power to be considered as an option to Fossil Fuels.

This as stated in the article “Increased calls for Nuclear Energy use in Jamaica”, published 24-04-2011 11:46:26 by Go-Jamaica!

So Senator Philip Paulwell’s statements before a panel of journalists at the Chevron Caribbean's retailer’s conference at Gran Bahia Principe hotel in Runaway Bay, St Ann on Wednesday April 27th 2011 in which Senator Philip Paulwell posited the idea of giving the JPS Co, (Jamaica Public Service Company) a Telecom’s License as a swap for accepting Energy Sector Liberalization, was troubling.

But it Senator Philip Paulwell words that would make any Level 2 Telecoms Technician from Telecom Provider LIME  cringe in horror, as he expounded on Powerline Broadband, quote: “I believe that as we move to negotiate away the monopoly from the Jamaica Public Service Company, you have to enable them to recover some of those revenues. There is now energy technology, which allows you to distribute telecommunications Signal using the Power line, what you call Broadband.”

This is not at all feasible, folks!

At least, not with current Technology due to one simple reason: Attenuation and Signal Interference.

Before I jump on my soapbox, it is good to point out that JPS Co already has a Telecom License.

Like duh- uh!

JPS Co must logically have one, as they need to communicate with their Power Engineers at the various Power Stations and Sub-Stations.

Using a Telecoms Service from a fellow Utility such as Telecom Provider LIME would not help, as they only need to communicate between Power Stations and Sub-Stations, with PBX (Private Branch Exchange) or even VoIP PBX from Avaya to accomplish the task of communication outside of JPS Co.

This as JPS Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum asserts that JPS Co uses a secure communication standard to communicate over Power Lines, the so called Power Line Carrier (PLC) as stated in the article “Security flaws in Some Smart meters”, published Sunday April 18, 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Her words would suffice to prove my point, quote: “This means that they use the high-voltage Power Lines as the communication medium. While no system is 100 per cent tamper-proof, the PLC system is very robust and it would be extremely difficult to intercept the communication being transmitted via the Power Lines.”

The only flaw with her assertion: the communication with Power Meters mentioned in the article is not via PLC, it is via the 2G GPRS (Global Packet Radio System) or EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) Network that is part of Telecom Provider LIME GSM (Global System Mobile) Network.

PLC is really used within the Power Stations and Sub-Stations to communicate with other parts of the Power Stations or Sub-Stations, with Microwave Radios, powered by Ericsson, to carry Signaling back to the JPS Co Head Office so that their NOC (Network Operation Center) can monitor the status of their Power Stations and Sub-Stations.

This means that they have to have spectrum assigned for their Microwave Radios to be used, be it unlicensed or licensed spectrum. For that reason, they would have to have a Telecom License, which by the way, already covers the resale of service to customers.

Why JPS Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum would commit such as blatant form of media obfuscation in this article is not clear, save that JPS Co does not want hackers to hack their Billing Network and alter AMA (Automated Messaging and Accounting) Billing or re-enable Power Meters that they have disconnected.

Or JPS Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum is just clueless!!

But what of Attenuation and Signal Interference?

PLC, which I know by its official name as HomePlug AV (IEEE 1901) as described in my blog article entitled “Wi-Fi, LightPeak and PowerLine Broadband - The Young and the Restless”, is basically used for Home Networks.

It is NOT utilized for long haul Transmission over Power Lines, owing to the high amount of inductive impedance such High Frequency Signals would face traveling on unshielded and non-twisted pair constantan (aluminum and steel alloy) wires.

Basic Physics at work people; Lenz Law at work!

Attenuation of Signal, requiring frequent Repeaters on the Power Lines, making PowerLine Broadband impractical!

It is only used for Home Networking purposes or for communication in place where running additional Ethernet Cable will prove to be a challenge, such as in a Power Stations or Sub-Stations.

This is because the wiring inside of a house are within the houses’ walls or Plenum spaces as is the case with Power Stations or Sub-Stations. Thus, the metallic structures within the concrete walls or Plenum spacing shields any High Frequency Radiation emanating from Broadband Signals travelling on the Power Wires from interfering with electronic equiptment.

Please note too that due to the relatively short wiring distance within a house, the impedance losses are easily handled by the HomePlug AV (IEEE 1901) Router, making creating a home Network as easy as plugging into a wall socket and connecting the Broadband to your HomePlug AV (IEEE 1901) Router!

The Engineers at the Power Stations or Sub-Stations communicate back to the JPS Co Head Office, be it Voice Communication (or Video?) via the Microwave Radios, with the Signal being propagated by the Microwave Antennas mounted on the mast atop the JPS Co Head Office.

Either way, Senator Philip Paulwell’s suggestion will not fly as the Economics is against it, as Triple Play Provider FLOW is expanding, despite President and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Michelle “Dallas” English of Triple Play Provider FLOW not being able to achieve the completion of their Digital Cable Network my blog article entitled “FLOW, IPTV an the coming of Net2Vu - Johnny Mnemonic”.

Ditto too, the build out of the island wide Fiber Optic Network being jointly executed by Telecom Provider LIME and Triple Play Provider FLOW and ironically being funded by the Government of Jamaica UAFCL (Universal Access Fund Company Limited) as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME, FLOW and the JA$543-million Internet Plan - Ebony and Ivory”.

So, it should be back to the submarine for Senator Philip Paulwell, Ice Station Zebra (1968) Style? ‘Cause the Nuclear Power argument was on the right track as Jamaica does need Nuclear Power!

More to come as Jamaica battles to have Energy Sector Liberalization!
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