Sun, Dec 23, 2018 - Page 2 News List

Railways to expand cross- island optic fiber network

ADDING REDUNDANCY:By the end of the project, two separate sets of glass fiber cables are to connect the north and south and could be leased out for use by telecoms

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) cross-country optic fiber network is to be completely upgraded by 2022 at an estimated cost of NT$710 million (US$23.05 million), it said.

The TRA in 1999 began installing optic fiber cables across the nation to cope with rising demand for a reliable internal communications system.

Of the 236 train stations operated by the agency, only 54 have fiber drop terminals, it said, adding that other stations still connect to the network through copper wires.

However, the quality of transmission via copper cables is often affected by interference from electromagnetic waves, it said, adding that this makes it difficult for the TRA to increase transmission capacity.

It is also necessary to replace optic fiber cables currently in use, as some are of different varieties or have exceeded their life expectancy, making for uneven communication quality, the TRA said.

The agency said its electrical engineering department in 2016 began laying two sets of cross-country cables, with the first set scheduled to be completed by spring next year.

The TRA is to start work on the second set next year and the two sets would be completed and tested by 2022, connecting 208 more stations, department section chief Tseng Hsi-pan (曾喜盤) said.

The installation of new optic fiber cables should greatly accelerate the processing speed of the railway company’s new ticketing system, which is to be launched by the end of the month, Tseng said.

The ticketing system is to transmit at a speed of 100 gigabits per second, he said, adding that improved communication speeds would also facilitate the dispatch of trains.

The TRA currently has only one set of optic fiber cables, Tseng said.

If the cables in Yilan and Taichung were to break at the same time, information from stations south of Yilan and Taichung would not be transmitted back to the control center, he said.

With two sets of the cables, the communications would not be interrupted even if one set is broken, he said.

The TRA could also revisit its contract with Asia-Pacific Telecom, which is leasing the cables, Tseng said.

The railway administration is the telecom’s second-largest shareholder, controlling about 9.3 percent of shares in the firm.

The telecom’s leasing of the TRA’s optic fiber network has contributed to TRA revenue over the past 18 years, he said, adding that they signed a contract for 25 years.

However, with 5G network licenses to be released in 2020, four other telecoms might need to access the TRA’s cross-island optic fiber network, he said, adding that the TRA would need to consult legal experts about leasing it to other telecoms.

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