CSIRO reveals more efficient wireless broadband

Tuesday, 22 March, 2011

The CSIRO has revealed details of a wireless broadband project that promises to be four times as efficient as existing wireless technologies.

The technology, known as Ngara, could prove to be a boon for rural and regional broadband, as it would require significantly fewer transmission towers to be deployed than competing wireless technologies.

“Analysis we’ve commissioned shows other wireless technologies, which typically operate at higher frequencies, would require four times as many towers,” CSIRO ICT Centre Director Dr Ian Oppermann said.

The prototype of the system provides six simultaneous users downlink speeds of 12 megabits per second (Mbps) and uplink speeds of 12 Mbps.

“We feel symmetry is important as people interact more using bandwidth-hungry applications such as videoconferencing - they could be working from home, participating in a lesson or visiting their doctor online,” Oppermann said.

“Current wireless technologies are not designed to allow uploads and downloads at the same rate and making them symmetrical would likely mean even more towers,” he said.

Oppermann stressed the efficiency of the Ngara technology.

“Even with the analog TV switch-off, there won’t be much spectrum to spare so any wireless system has to be very efficient, sending as much information as possible within its allotted frequency range,” he said.

In fact, the CSIRO claims Ngara is one of the world’s most spectrally efficient access systems, with a transmission rate of 20 bits per second per Hertz (20 b/s/Hz). Providing 12 Mbps of bandwidth to six simultaneous users takes only as much space as one television channel - 7 MHz.

Recent field testing in Tasmania revealed that these speeds could be maintained at distances of up to 16 kilometres.

It is being shown to decision makers in industry and policy this week.

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