Meralco scraps broadband-over-power lines project

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Utility firms PLDT and Meralco have decided not to pursue its broadband-over-power-lines project, which was supposed to make Internet more accessible, because of unsolved interference problem

MANILA, Philippines – Sister utility firms Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) have decided not to pursue its broadband-over-power-lines project, which was supposed to make Internet more accessible, because of unsolved interference problem.

Both Pangilinan-led firms have been pilot testing the delivery of broadband internet service over Meralco’s power lines since August 2009 in Malabon. The supposedly 3-month trial before the project is rolled out nationwide dragged on for years.

“After several trials in Metro Manila, we found the broadband over power lines project unstable because of electrical usage interferences. That’s why it was terminated,” PLDT president Napoloen Nazareno told reporters in a text message.

“The test results were not promising. Too much interference over the power lines on Meralco’s current infrastructure,” PLDT spokesperson Ramon Isberto said.

PLDT and Meralco want to provide wired broadband services in areas not currently reached by PLDT facilities or in areas where facilities are already exhausted. The results of such pilot tests were supposed to guide them in determining the scope and coverage of the project, which was expected to drive the investment requirements.

The project was one of the key areas for synergies when the Pangilinan-led group acquired a controlling stake in Meralco in 2009.
Alternative: prepaid scheme

Both firms have shifted efforts toward making the prepaid electricity scheme a success. “Prepaid electricity is generally positive,” said Nazareno.

Prepaid retail electricity scheme will be tested in Angono, Rizal in November 2012.

The prepaid scheme has been ubiquitous in the telecommunications business, with PLDT’s mobile unit Smart Communications Inc. profiting from prepaid mobile services.

Once prepaid electricity service becomes available, the electronic loading facilities of the PLDT group could be made available to Meralco and its prepaid customers to make the reloading of prepaid values more convenient and ubiquitous.
Prepaid electricity has been in operation in countries like South Africa and Indonesia, and more recently in India, Australia and New Zealand. In South Africa and Indonesia, prepaid electricity is availed of by consumers using tokens and a meter with numbered keys where a code is punched in.

Aside from the prepaid retail electricity scheme, Nazareno said the PLDT group is pushing with its  fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) or direct-to-the-home (DTTH) fiber optic data service known as PLDT Fibr.

“In the meantime, we are rolling out the FTTH,” Nazareno said when asked if the broadband over power lines project will be replaced with a different technology.

PLDT, he said, is committed to rollout over 150,000 broadband lines using fiber optic cables capable of handling data speed of up to 100 megabits per second (mbps). “We would have installed over 150,000 FTTH lines by the end of the year,” said the PLDT official.

With a 100 mbps connection, it will take only one minute to download a full-length movie.
The PLDT Fibr was made available to residents of Forbes Park and Urdaneta Village in Makati, Palms Pointe in Alabang, Wack Wack Village in Mandaluyong, and all Valle Varde Villages in Pasig in November last year.
Isberto said the phone giant intends to tap other residential areas within the metropolis. “Our PLDT Fibr will be present in more areas in Metro Manila,” he said. –

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