The CSIRO plans to use Australia’s soon-to-be-defunct analog television broadcasting infrastructure to deliver wireless broadband to anywhere that can currently receive an analog television signal. The technology, dubbed Broadband to the Bush, uses orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), a modulation scheme used by 802.11a/g/n (among many other wired and wireless technologies) and multiple input multiple output (MIMO), which uses multiple antennas at the transmitter and receiver to increase data throughput.
The OFDM-MIMO technology could be the missing link to provide broadband access to the 10% of Australians who will not be covered by the fibre to the home (FTTH) network due for completion in 2017.
CSIRO’s Alex Zelinksy said:
“With normal wireless technologies you would need 36 base stations to cover what we can do with one, so you reduce your capital costs [...] We believe [the broadcast range] could cover 100 square kilometers and at rates of between 12 and 50 megabits per second, but it could scale up to the full 100Mbps (equal to the proposed speed of the fibre NBN).”
Field trials will be running within 12-24 months, with a commercial launch expected within 3-5 years – provided the Australian federal government is willing to allow the UHF and VHF spectrums to be used for wireless broadband.