Wireless Broadband Down Under

Thursday, November 4, 2010 @ 12:11 AM gHale

A breakthrough in wireless technology will allow multiple users to upload content at the same time while maintaining a data transfer rate of 12 megabits per second (Mbps), all over their old analog TV aerial, said Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) officials.
The technology, named Ngara, allows up to six users to occupy the equivalent spectrum space of one television channel (7 megahertz) and has a spectral efficiency of 20 bits per second per hertz.
Ngara can handle up to three times that of similar technology and maintains a data rate more than 10 times the industry minimum standard, CSIRO ICT center director Ian Oppermann said.
“Someone who doesn’t live near the fiber network [the Australian government’s planned National Broadband Network] could get to it using our new wireless system,” Oppermann said. “They’d be able to upload a clip to YouTube in real time and their data rate wouldn’t change even if five of their neighbors also started uploading videos.”
“But the really impressive part is the spectral efficiency our team has achieved,” Oppermann said.
The radio spectrum is a finite and highly valuable, natural resource. CSIRO’s spectral efficiency is three times that of the closest comparable technology and the data rate is more than 10 times the industry’s recently declared minimum standard.
Spectral efficiency is about packing as many bits of information as possible into the channel (frequency range) allocated for its transmission. CSIRO’s 12 Mbps, six-user system works in the space of one television channel, which is seven megahertz (MHz) wide.
CSIRO is achieving spectral efficiency of 20 bits per second per Hertz (20 b/s/Hz).
“Even with just half of our system completed, CSIRO is already helping define the future of wireless technology,” Oppermann said.
Wireless Research Director for Gartner, Robin Simpson, said the most promising aspect of CSIRO’s Ngara technology is it aims to re-use old analog TV channels.
“This means any rural property or business that can currently receive TV signals could in future connect to high-speed Internet just by using a new set-top box,” Simpson said.
CSIRO is currently completing the research and testing of the downlink part of the system, which will also run at 12 Mbps per user.
Ngara is a word of the Darug people meaning to listen, hear and think. The Darug people are the traditional owners of the land on which the ICT Centre’s Sydney lab sits.

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