Thu, Apr 12, 2012 - Page 12 News List

NFB radio frequency use for eTag system approved

FALLING SHORT:With two months until the deadline, the usage rate of the electronic toll system is currently at about 44%, which is 21% below the official target level

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The National Communications Commission yesterday approved an application by the National Freeway Bureau (NFB) to use a radio frequency for its eTag system, adding that the commission reserved the right to annul the operational license if the bureau fails to address interference that the system could cause to 2G or 4G telecoms networks.

Commission spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said the operational license would be granted to the bureau only after the commission inspects and certifies the infrastructure of the eTag system.

In response, bureau officials said it would take another two to four weeks before they could obtain the official operational license to use the frequency. The inevitable administrative procedure is expected to pose a challenge for Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co, the contractor in charge of collecting freeway tolls on behalf of the government.

Based on the terms stated in the build-operate-transfer contract, the company must raise the usage rate of its electronic toll collection system to 65 percent by June or it will face a daily penalty of NT$500,000.

The usage rate of the electronic toll system, which was launched in 2006, is about 44 percent, which is 21 percent below the target with just two months left.

The commission said the bureau had applied to use a frequency band between 922.75 megahertz (MHz) and 924.25MHz for its eTag system, which enables it to charge motorists by the distance traveled on freeways.

The commission began reviewing the application in February. However, it had been reluctant to approve the application for fear the eTag system could interfere with the operations of 4G networks because the two systems would lack an adequate buffer.

The nation has reserved the frequency range above 930MHz for the development of 4G networks, which leaves a gap of 5.75MHz from the higher end of the eTag system.

So far, there is no evidence that the eTag system would interfere with the 2G network.

Yesterday’s approval came with several conditions. The operational license for the eTag system will expire on Dec. 31, 2014. Should the eTag system cause interference with 2G or 4G networks, the bureau would be required to improve the situation within a designated period of time. The commission would have the right to take back the frequency band assigned to the bureau if the interference persists.

If the eTag system is found to conflict with the 4G network, the bureau should also keep its promises made to the commission, including moving the toll--collecting gantries away from areas with weak 4G signals, installing base stations on the gantries to strengthen 4G signals and lowering the power of the eTag system.

The bureau should entrust a reliable third-part organization with task of proving that the ETC system will not clash with the 4G network, adding that the report must be submitted within six months after it obtains the license from the NCC.

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