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Delivering ICT and e-applications only possible with the right bandwidth - Part 9

Electronic applications have revolutionised the world by introducing novel methods in general applications we practice daily. This e-application or electronic application was born as a result of information technology with the emergence of Internet. People find it’s easy and convenient to do their routine work over the Internet, cost effectively than doing them in any other way.


Internet bandwidth is no different to pipes that carry water. Larger the size, greater the data it pumps.

In fact this new concept has managed to change the world dramatically by introducing innovative methods in our lives. Countries like Japan, Korea and EU have already implement e-application in the key areas of public utility services by allowing citizens to have access.

Education, medicine, Government and other utility services have become the iconic services of e-applications. All of these services which come under the umbrella of e-applications will facilitate the public to have access to these services remotely despite its location.

The impact it caused on the society is remarkable. The benefits are unmatched. Actually these features of e-based applications have dramatised the entire world by increasing the GDP and total productivity in any society if adopted.

The Internet works as the carrier in this process when delivering e-applications in the society. The medium selected is the high speed Internet(HSI) which is capable of handling rich media content fore and aft among computers with efficiently and cost effectively.

The Internet platform would be the right choice to achieve both of these goals effectively in the real world. The efficiency of the Internet is the speed. The speed then depends on the amount of bandwidth it has flow. The next important factor is the cost. The cost must be reasonable or otherwise, the concept of e-application will loose. So the speed and the price would be the deciding factors of e-applications.

Cutting edge technologies were introduced in this regard to compete with the growing demand of Internet applications.

Unevenness

Large numbers of services migrated to Internet platform recently by intending to increase the efficiency of tasks.

Increased demand pushes the Internet technology in to higher standards than ever before. Speed and bandwidth measurements have changed from Kilobits to Megabits respectively to facilitate new technologies that popped in the world recently. However, the world broadband Internet standard is varying widely.

This unevenness in broadband Internet standard gives freedom to countries to make their own standards according to their requirements. But countries who have failed to identify its requirements, settled for something less.

Governments who have done extensive studies on this have made unique standards by considering future demands of the Internet. Actually the well developed administration systems in these countries would have been the reason to implement such standards in broadband Internet.

But there are some instances where technology and competition had created standards in broadband despite its state’s involvement. But this is not the case in some other countries. For instance, USA’s broadband definition had prevented the country from achieving its economic goals due to the low speed standards defined in broadband. Latter, it was revised recently by the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) to a higher standard by opening doors to high tech Internet.

Japan is at the first in the speed race. One could get 100Mbps broadband service in Japan nearly for the price Sri Lankans pay for 512Kbps Internet service. Korea, Finland, Sweden, and France are steaming behind in the race while other countries still taking mark for the race.

Stagnated

Having said that, now we must draw our attention to the Sri Lankan market situation. Sri Lankan broadband Internet market is still not matured enough even with four operators.

Stagnated broadband market in Sri Lanka finally goes beyond 2Mbps in last year soon after the entry of wireless operators. 512Kbps is the minimum and 7.2Mbps is the maximum broadband speed available in Sri Lanka.

Market consisted of four broadband providers including three wireless and one wired operator. ADSL, WiMAX and HSPA technologies were effectively used in providing broadband services.

Unavailability of broadband definition permits operators to run their self-styled broadband services freely in the past. Low quality and highly priced broadband services in the country have actually kept people away from accessing this modern technology and that would be very unfavourable for development where the country is concerned.

To counteract this situation, Sri Lanka should adopt the right technology at the right time and proper standards must be identified without further delay. Being the under layer of e-applications, high speed Internet would dominate the whole process.

The intended benefits of e-applications could only be delivered to the society if people have access. Similarly success of the concept of e-application heavily depends on the quality of the broadband service which people use in their access.

That is because; the sole idea behind putting services on-line would be to increase the efficiency of services and at the same time reducing the cost factor considerably. Therefore, before implementing e-applications in any country or society, the particular country’s infrastructure facilities such as Internet services must be developed to cope with the requirements of applications that come online.

E-medicine, e-education, e-commerce and e-government are the key applications that come under the electronic application. All these applications are allowing the public to access services remotely by not visiting places where service being originated. Since all transactions take place over the Internet, an extensive quality Internet service must be provided from beginning to the end.

Near living quality is a must in all applications where video is involved. Since e-application system would be a substitute solution for the requirement of public to be present in an office environment, people must feel the virtual reality while using these applications. Unfortunately the country’s present broadband quality and the prices are very discouraging to the growth of e-applications. Quality never permits to launch rich e-applications while price never permits people to acquire their own broadband services.

Time-critical

Where Sri Lanka is concerned, categorisation of e-applications according to their tasks would be ideal in all aspects.

Time-critical applications involved with video image transporting must be treated as high-end applications. Utility bill payments, information services, applications and form downloading and other citizen services could be regarded as none time critical low-end applications.

Therefore, choosing minimum required bandwidth for each and every application must be done carefully because otherwise, the insufficient bandwidth would cripple the entire concept at its cradle. e-learning and e-medicine both use high quality video image transport in both directions. If application requires an interactive feature to be enabled, symmetric broadband service must be provided at both ends.

To transmit and receive standard definition DVD quality MPEG-2 picture, the bandwidth requirement is about 3Mbps.

This would be fairly enough to view full motion video picture on a computer screen without video jitter. However, to project this on a multimedia screen for larger audience, the transport layer’s bandwidth requirement could be higher than this.

Since medical and education applications are interactive in its nature, picture quality of the video really matters. Video stream that runs over MPEG-1 format still requires at least 700Kbps to produce VCD quality picture on the screen. Blurry video pictures associated in low bandwidth services below 700Kbps would not be suitable to use with e-education and in e-medicine applications.

High definition sharp crisp video picture which runs over the 3Mbps must be needed in object recognition when delivering lectures. Small objects, small letters and tiny devises used by lectures especially in technical video presentations could only be recognisable by the video receiving audience if they were provided with high quality video over MPEG-2 format.

Medical consultancy services that come under e-medicine would also require bandwidth between 2Mbps and 6Mbps respectively to produce high quality video service to patients and doctors.

Sometimes the bandwidth necessary could be higher than stipulated. In this regard special video compression codec such as H.264 AVC must be needed to squeeze the size of the video to put them in a small bandwidth service for transportation.

Extremes

The next challenge is to provide high quality broadband Internet services to the citizens in the country. As we all know, it is not possible to provide dedicated symmetric broadband service to the home environment under present market condition.

Therefore we must draw a line somewhere between two extremes defining a minimum standard for home, Governmental and commercial organisations where video related applications are being concerned.In this regard at least 700Kbps up and 1Mbps down bandwidth broadband service must be provided to all homes if they intend to conduct e-learning and similar video enabled applications over the Internet.

What we should not forget here is, 700Kbps up and1Mbps download service would be the boundary and it is barely sufficient to run e-applications at high quality.

Health sector institutes, hospitals, Schools and other educational organisations and e-centres should be connected with higher bandwidth services over 2Mbps. Selecting lower bandwidth services would jeopardise the e-application concept even before it was born.

Running e-education applications over lower bandwidth services below 1Mbps could cause student dissatisfaction due to the low quality video picture thus losing their confidence towards the e-education concept.

However, even these standards would only be sufficient for the present requirements in the country, based on existing infrastructure facilities. Bandwidth revisions must be made accordingly in the future to facilitate the growing demand of bandwidth hungry applications that run over the Internet.

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