CSIRO introduces Wi-Fi to your TV antenna

Summary:The CSIRO will tomorrow unveil a breakthrough in wireless technology that 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.

The CSIRO will tomorrow unveil a breakthrough in wireless technology that 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.

Ngara Wi-Fi technology

(Credit: Geoff Ambler/CSIRO)

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 centre director Dr Ian Opperman revealed.

"Someone who doesn't live near the fibre network could get to it using our new wireless system," Oppermann said in a statement. "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 neighbours also started uploading videos."

The Federal Government's National Broadband Network project will deliver fibre services to 93 per cent of the population, while another 4 per cent are expected to be covered by wireless broadband services. NBN Co recently released a consultation paper calling for industry views on proposed wireless services.

Ngara Wi-Fi technology

(Credit: Geoff Ambler/CSIRO)

The Federal Government is currently switching off analog TV signals across the country, with the deadline for the switch-off to be completed by 2013. The spectrum currently used for analog TV is expected to be auctioned off by the Australian Communications and Media Authority shortly after that. Optus and Telstra have been calling for a quick release of the spectrum so that they can use it for their planned Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile networks.

The Ngara technology could also utilise this spectrum, according to Gartner wireless research director Robin Simpson.

"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," he said.

Simpson told ZDNet Australia that the technology was specifically designed for rural areas but could also potentially compete with LTE in metropolitan areas.

"What I'm most interested in about it is that it is an ideal technology for remote and rural areas provided they already have TV, which a lot of them do. Wherever there's a broadcast tower, they can pop antennas for this new technology on that tower and reach the homestead through the existing tower," he said.

"What appeals to me about it is that it re-uses existing infrastructure, all of the competing wireless technologies tend to use high frequencies and therefore require new base stations, new spectrum and new receiving antenna infrastructure as well," he added. "The fact that they're re-using the analog TV stuff gives them a much easier market entry strategy."

The CSIRO was the first to develop Wi-Fi technology that is widely used across the world today and currently holds the patent for the technology. It has instigated a number of legal cases in recent years to protect this patent and retrieve royalties owed to the organisation.

Topics: Broadband, Emerging Tech, NBN

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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