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|May 18, 1998
Bengal wants electricity board to become an ISPThe West Bengal government has approached Northern Telecom of Canada to convert the withering state electricity board into a vibrant Internet services provider.
This is the first time that a power utility will attempt to enter the realm of the Internet.
Sen also contacted Nortel's Ottawa headquarters, seeking technology assistance.
Under the proposal, WBSEB will use its existing transmission and distribution network to offer Internet access across the state. This will be possible by virtue of Nortel's revolutionary Digital Powerline '98 technology which enables the Internet access over domestic electricity lines for the first time in the world.
A Nortel team is expected to take stock of the board's existing infrastructure and consider the viability of the venture.
The Canadian telecom major announced the unique technology last October.
Subsequently, the service has been commercially deployed in Singapore in March after Singapore Power teamed up with Nortel.
Such a project can be implemented through specific Nortel product installations at the board's power sub-stations, which will be linked with receiving equipment at the user end.
The data/information will flow through the power cables, bypassing DoT's telecom network in the state. While the technical details are yet to come through, indications are that Internet access will be available by interfacing the board's distribution system with the nearest VSNL Internet accesses node.
Initially, WBSEB proposes to try out the venture on an experimental basis.
PWA has been asked to explore the legal aspects of such a venture. It is to be seen whether the board obtains a formal Internet license from DoT like other private ISP applicants.
The railways and the public-sector transmission company, PowerGrid Corporation, were identified by their respective ministries to supplement DoT's long-distance service by leasing out sections of their network.
But this was vehemently opposed by DoT, which feared erosion of business.
In such a backdrop, WBSEB may have to battle several odds if the project eventually materialises.
- Compiled from the Indian media
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