CSIRO introduces Wi-Fi to your TV antenna

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.

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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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13 comments
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  • Good to see Australia developing its own tech for this problem and not outsourcing it elsewhere. I just hope they dont go all patent trolly on everyone like they did with the 802.11 standards. Patents are so often abused and used for extortion these days. And I bet none of those Aussies who worked so tirelessly in making the technology work actually see those dollars down the track. Still, this is a step in the right direction for the kinds of communication techniques required in a country like Australia and probably a lot of others too. I'd like to see a bit more than 12mbits downlink though. Maybe 48/24mbit down/up. I doubt Telstra has the backbone to support those speeds and god knows it would never sell any plans even remotely close to them. Like when they first introduced ADSL1 with 512Kb maximum DL speed out of a potential 8mbits or 1/16th of what they could have done. I think they could combine this Wifi tech with a one way long haul xDSL technology for uplink and make a hybrid Chello type delivery system.
    nissy-2f939
  • "Discussing networking speeds of the technology, Oppermann said it would offer 12mbps up and down, shared between up to 1000 homes in a roughly 15 to 20 kilometre radius of a broadcast tower."

    Thats a contention ratio of 1000:1 - industry expects about 25:1 these days. Putting it another way .. In practice, it will barely surpass dialup speeds.

    Thats a very poor way to use this spectrum, and will absolutely squander any remaining money in the trough that could be used to provide realistic services to Regional Australia.

    With the NBN and now the CSIRO all I see is out of control bureaucrats as far as the eye can see. An awesome opportunity for the private sector is emerging.
    mikesc-e7418
  • I find it hard to understand how you can estimate the effect of the contention ratio will be when you have absolutely no idea how the technology works.

    It may turn out to be the best way to use the spectrum and become the wireless technology of choice, killing off both WiMax and LTE.

    Remember, these are the people that gave us WiFi. I'd be waiting until there is more detail on the technology before shooting it down.
    toeknee93
  • Spectral efficiency is defined as bits per hertz. this technology has 20bps per hertz or about 133Mbps for one TV channel. LTE has a spectral efficiency of around 16bps/Hz

    Yes contention could be high but the speed would depend upon the number of channels used.
    jeffrey.endres
  • "I find it hard to understand how you can estimate the effect of the contention ratio will be when you have absolutely no idea how the technology works."

    Its my job. I'm an engineer. I used their figures. Please put brain into gear before shooting messenger.

    regards
    mikesc-e7418
  • Not an expert but assuming this is UHF (which has 7Mhz channels) then potentially 40 channels x 6 users = 240 without contention?
    xBeanie
  • Unfortunately research is not free and government funding only goes so far.

    I dont think CSIRO would go to court without believing they had a fair claim, unlike many of the commercial operators that do so simply to try and suppress the competition. CSIRO will use funds from claims for further research whereas the others will use it to line the CEO's and shareholder's pockets.
    xBeanie
  • Analogue, analogue, analogue!
    manicmike
  • Only 18 UHF TV channels will be auctioned off for the 700 band digital dividend spectrum auction (UHF 52-69) so the ultimate capacity of this platform is unsuitable. It would be an absolute tragedy to see all or even a part of the 700 band wasted on this technology that would only benefit a very small number of fixed site users when LTE-Advanced could be deployed instead which has peak performance of 30bps/Hz and would benefit ALL users in the coverage area of 16000 base stations across Australia!
    Why reserve capacity for 6 users when they may only need that capacity for 0.001% of the day????
    Why waste such incredibly valuable spectrum on some ridiculously unique system that benefits only for a handful of fixed site users when global standards like WiMax and LTE-Advanced could be used to provide coverage for 99+% of the Australian population using millions of mobile and fixed devices?????
    This Ngara is a complete waste of our tax dollars and is an obvious attempt to squeeze money out of any sucker that is foolish enough to invest money in it!
    davmel
  • People in the bush don't have internet except at very slow dial up speeds. Talking about 256Kb and they'd be over the moon. Talk about 12 Mb - they can't even count that high. That's like asking Americans how many zeros in a $trillion. Get real. Country people don't need or want to sit in front of a box and download movies all day like the lounge lizards in the city.
    ROd-af286
    • Depends which part of the bush you're talking about. Some parts get ADSL2+. Some parts get Next G coverage. Some get "wireless cable". All can get satellite.
      mattax
  • Exactly the point...

    They have to sit there all day "now", because of their inadequate "dial up" speeds. With the NBN improvements, they will be able to do in minutes what now takes them hours...ROd!
    RS-ef540
  • "... This Ngara is a complete waste of our tax dollars and is an obvious attempt to squeeze money out of any sucker that is foolish enough to invest money in it! ... "

    Geee davmel, such a spray for a new technology that is now out in the open.... some of the things you are saying were also said about WiMax not too long ago and are still being said about LTE and LTE-Adv.
    FiberLover