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Dawdling Internet adds more weight on national grid

As a developing country in south Asia, Sri Lanka has suffered many hardships in the past due to the lack of power generation. The nationwide blackouts have almost crippled the entire economy of the country causing great difficulties to development.

As economy develops the electro power requirement also has risen drastically beyond the limit of what the country’s national power grid could handle.

Some modern technologies emerged as a result of the development could have caused. Since Sri Lanka is highly dependent on the hydro power generation, power conservation has become a national priority.


Looking to the future...

People in the country are regularly educated about the energy conservation and public awareness programs are also setup. The Ceylon electricity board and the Government have taken a number of measures to conserve the energy by introducing new regulations and rules.

However exclusive of our awareness, a modern technology recently entered into Sri Lankan household have now become another burden to the national power grid. It is the ordinary computer that adds more weight on the national grid and nothing else. There is no argument that the computer is an essential thing in our society than ever before.

Therefore no restrictions can be applied to limit the usage of computers in any way. Computers must go on and its growth must be increased to attain a mass scale of economic benefits. But what is this all about?

Actually it not the computer, it is the quality of Internet services provided in the country that leads to electricity wastage by increasing the computer usage time. The discovery would be astonishing to many as they never imagined such.

Broadband

Slow broadband Internet services in the country requires more time to accomplish a task than usual by extending the time a user spends on the computer. Internet can be fast or slow. It is depend on the service quality of the service provider.

If we have been provided with low grade broadband Internet service we need more time to accomplish our tasks on the Internet. Similarly fast acceptable quality service can accomplish tasks quickly by reducing the time people spent on computers. More time we spent on computers means we are compelled to leave the computers in a switched-on state for a longer period of time which leads to higher electricity consumption.

If we leave the computers switched on we burn more energy in addition to the power drawn by the computer. In an office environment other appliances such as air conditioners, fans and lights must be kept on while using the computers.

Similarly in a residential environment in addition to fans we need lamps to be turned on in the surrounding especially during the night. Now we see, using a computer means we burn more energy simultaneously in addition to the power consumption of the computer.

This new power requirement created by modern technology has given us a new challenge in power conservation. But this condition cannot be another burden on the national power grid. Similarly the power requirement by the computers would not be a reason to disallow computers in our society either.

There is no doubt the computer penetration in the country must be increased to meet the growing demands of IT. Certainly it assures to take our motherland forward in socio economic development in the future. In this regard no limitations or restrictions can be implemented on the computer usage.

Unnecessary

But the unnecessary power waste created by the computers can be cut down fully by speeding up the broadband Internet services in the country.

For better understanding how this slow-speed broadband Internet would impact on the national power grid we need to understand the characteristics of Internet and its technicalities.

Broadband Internet is the next generation access method people use to access the Internet at faster speeds. Like how computers were developed from slow processing power to high processing power CPUs, Internet platform is also in a continues evolution. Requirement of fast Internet services grows rapidly as many services shifted towards the Internet platform from authentic methods. This service migration pushes the Internet further by increasing its transfer speeds beyond the limits we never imagined.

But, most of broadband Internet services in Sri Lanka have failed to deliver the benefits of high speed Internet to the society as yet. As mentioned earlier the efficiency of the Internet really depends on the speed of the service. If the service is slow and sluggish we require more time to complete each and every task we undertake on the Internet.

Presently in Sri Lanka the majority of broadband services are in the range of entry broadband speed such as 512kbps.

The reality is, this capacity would be inadequate to handle bandwidth-hungry applications found on the Internet nowadays. On the other hand the average speeds found in these particular services are too slow especially during the peak hours.

Under this circumstance the time we spend on the Internet would increase significantly. For instance if we pick a 50MB file from the Internet to download it will take approximately 1 hour and 11 minutes to complete under the prevailing service quality in some broadband services.

But if we download the same file at the speed of 900 kbps it can be completed within 7 minutes. Here we need to keep the computer switched on and running for an additional 64 minutes than usual if the service provided is slow and poor. The question is how much of electricity we waste daily on a mass scale due to the substandard broadband Internet services in the country.

The calculation would be very simple. A basic home computer with 15 inch CRT monitor attached would consume approximately 150 Watts under the normal operating condition.

If we assume 1000 users are downloading the same file of 50MB at the speed of 900kbps their consumption will only be 17.5 kWh. Similarly if we download the same file at the speed of 100kbps it would consume approximately 177.5 kWh. We waste about 160 kWh from the national electricity gird for nothing. The actual result would be more disturbing to be noticed if we take the real statistics for the calculations.

However this energy wastage can be minimised by providing a proper standard high speed broadband Internet in the country.

If provided, the above file can be downloaded within 7 minutes in 1Mbps service. Just compare the time and the energy we save if we have been provided with the real high speed Internet services in the country.

If underestimated, this situation can lead to a level of national cerise. If such condition triggers in the country it will directly impact on the growth of IT industry. As a developing nation this is something we wouldn’t want to happen.

Barricades

We must allow IT to grow effortlessly and all barricades must be identified and removed. But the power conservation in the country would not be affected by the unregulated Internet services. More or less, power conservation is a national priority. And it is a national asset too. Therefore we should not let one industry or technology to waste national resources for no purpose.

The quality of the broadband Internet service in the country must be enhanced to proper broadband standards with immediate effect. Further to allow users to accomplish their tasks immediately over the Internet all existing broadband services below 900kbps bandwidth must be upgraded to 1Mbps and should be recognised as the minimum national broadband standard in Sri Lanka.

Electricity is a national asset that belongs to citizens. Therefore telecommunication companies must be very careful not to misuse the national electricity to fulfill their commercial desires in the future.

If speeded up, broadband Internet would become a promising technology in the development of the economy. Otherwise it will become another burden to the economy.

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