CSIRO prepares Ngara wireless tech for commercialisation

Australia's peak scientific research organisation, the CSIRO, is teaming up with RF Technology to take its new wireless technology to the US for emergency services.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) newest wireless technology, Ngara, is headed for commercialisation with the organisation teaming up with RF Technology to sell the technology to emergency services organisations.

The CSIRO first debuted the technology in 2010 in a push to get it included in the National Broadband Network's fixed-wireless rollout. The service at the time offered 12Mbps download speeds over 7MHz of spectrum, able to support up to six users simultaneously.

Although NBN Co ultimately decided to use long-term evolution (LTE) technology instead, the CSIRO has continued to work on the technology now to the point where it supports up to 20 users, and the research organisation is ready to begin commercialising the technology.

The CSIRO's digital productivity and services research leader professor Jay Guo told ZDNet that the CSIRO hasn't been in a rush to get the technology into the market.

"The first reason is CSIRO doesn't produce product prototypes; we only produce technology," he said.

"The other reason is that at CSIRO we don't have many high-tech customers."

Teaming up with RF Technology, the CSIRO is targeting the emergency services market in the United States, with one customer already signed up to use the technology when it is commercially available in 12 to 18 months for tracking and maintaining snow ploughs.

"We enable two things: One is simultaneous communication with the commander; the second is higher spectral efficiency so you can have data communications," Guo said.

Guo said that Ngara is even more efficient than LTE in its use of spectrum.

"LTE doesn't support as many as we are supporting for the simultaneous communication between the commander and the vehicles," he said.

While initial products would be limited to radio receivers, Guo said that the CSIRO and RF Technology would be working to make the technology available for laptops, smartphones, and tablets, and able to work across a number of spectrum bands.

"This is a first step, taking the Ngara access to a market place. Once it is proven, we'll have more credibility, which will make it easy for us to get into other markets," he said.