CSIRO will attempt to smash its current top speeds with its new Wi-Fi TV antenna technology, connecting up to 12 users on one 7MHz TV spectrum band at 50Mbps — instead of the old 12Mbps.
Broadcasting Australia tower at Willis Hill near Smithton, Tasmania(Credit: CSIRO)
The technology, named Ngara, works by installing antennas on existing TV broadcasting towers that transmit wireless broadband to households through their existing TV antennas. The antennas are slightly modified, as some of the components in existing antennas don't allow them to be used as transmitters.
The most recent trial of the technology this month allowed six users to connect simultaneously through the equivalent spectrum space of one TV channel, with upload and download speeds of 12Mbps. In a field trial in Tasmania last year, CSIRO managed to get six simultaneous uploads at 12Mbps at a distance of 16km.
CSIRO ICT centre director Dr Ian Oppermann said the research organisation had first focused on getting symmetrical download and upload speeds working, rather than just jacking up speeds.
"We feel symmetry is important as people interact more using bandwidth-hungry applications such as video-conferencing — they could be working from home, participating in a lesson or visiting their doctor online," he said. "It's easy to see how these services would be particularly valuable in rural areas."
However, CSIRO told ZDNet Australia that the next stage of the trial will see researchers attempt to get upload and download speeds of 50Mbps, and connect up to 12 users simultaneously.
CSIRO is keen to commercialise the technology soon, and aims to see it used in the areas of Australia not served by the fibre component of the National Broadband Network (NBN). The organisation hopes to use existing broadcasting infrastructure and UHF spectrum leftover from the analog switch-off.
Oppermann said the organisation's own research had shown that Ngara would require just one quarter the number of towers that other wireless technologies would require.
"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," Opperman said.
Earlier this month the organisation also told The Australian that showcasing the Ngara system as part of the NBN will serve to market the technology to the rest of the world.