Toll technology war hots up

January 8, 2006

Toll technology Companies supporting CEN 278 technology form an association NHAI to call for consultants to help implementation of project.

The battle for controlling the technology standard for electronic toll collection systems on Indian highways appears to be hotting up. With Austrian company Efkon pitching for ISO CALM infrared technology standard for NHAI’s electronic toll collection (ETC) project, other players in the space, supporting the CEN 278 standard, have upped the ante and formed an association, called the Association of Toll and Traffic System Integrators of India (ATTSII).


The ATTSII President, Mr Sachin Bhatia, also happens to be the Country Director of Kapsch Metro JV. Kapsch TraffiCOM is an Austrian company that has supplied ETC equipment in Austria, Australia, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and South Africa.

“The association’s mandate includes ensuring interoperability amongst ETC systems in the country and adoption of CEN 278 microwave standards in all national and State highways,” Mr Bhatia said, adding that they would look into the common issues of road operators.

While Kapsch, GEA, IBI, Q-Free, CS Route and Elkosta have become members of the association, IRD is in the process of joining up. Listing out the factors that call for adoption of CEN 278 standard, he said: “The entire ISO CALM standard is not yet developed. There is a single vendor source for ISO CALM infrared equipment, unlike in CEN 278, where there are several vendors.”

He also suggested that CEN would be much more economical than ISO CALM. Giving an analogy of the GSM-CDMA telecom standards he said: “Wouldn’t any phone that is developed which supports both GSM and CDMA standards be more expensive than one supporting only GSM or CDMA?” Moreover, ATTSII alleges that the CALM infrared-based projects have run into trouble in Germany and Taiwan.


At a time when India is starting to put in place the ETC technology, it should adopt the most advanced technology that allows for wider applications and faster data transfer speed, said Mr Pushkar Kulkarni, CEO, Efkon Group India. Adoption of ISO CALM allows for upgrades in the future.
“To ensure interoperability, just adoption of CEN 278 standard is not enough. We require agreements across road operators as well,” Mr Kulkarni said, adding that ISO CALM has been adopted in Germany, Taiwan, Malaysia and South Korea. He added that even if four equipment vendors in the CALM infrared standard had been in a joint venture or had a technology transfer tie-up with Efkon earlier, as on date, they are independent companies and can compete with Efkon.


Meanwhile, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to invite a consultant that would help it implement the toll automation project in the best possible manner, according to sources. Giving the road operator perspective, Mr Manoj Dave, Head (O&M)-Roads, L&T, said: “This is an extremely difficult choice. While CEN 278 is well used in Europe, CALM is being set up as a standard.”

“Rather than going for ETC, the priority now is to have other basic tolling technologies that would address the problem of revenue leakages at tolling booths,” Mr Dave said, adding that the country can now opt for adopting smart card system only.

“We can wait for a few years for our standards body to tell us what should be adopted,” he said. The tussle started when NHAI recently floated a tender to undertake a ETC project. It invited bids for ETC based on 5.8 Giga Hertz Microwave DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communication) complying with CEN/TC-278.
Following this, companies supporting ISO CALM wrote to NHAI asking it to adopt the CALM standard for its project.

Share your comments here: