By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: As Australian’s appetite for digital media, services and information continues to increase this breakthrough technology could provide a significant stepping stone in bridging the rural and urban divide in what is often referred to as the ‘tyranny of distance’.

The technology, which could use a quarter the number of transmission towers required currently, hopes to bring wireless broadband access to those living beyond the proposed NBN using existing infrastructure and UHF spectrum that will not be in use after the full digitalisation of TV.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) centre director Dr Ian Oppermann said the first prototype will be revealed to decision makers in industry and policy this week and that being spectrum efficiency was critical.

“Even with the analog TV switch-off, there won’t be much spectrum to spare so any wireless system has to be very efficient, sending as much information as possible within its allotted frequency range,” Oppermann said.

“A feature of our first prototype Ngara system is that all six simultaneous users within the coverage area would have access to and from their homes at 12 Mbps.

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“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.

“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.

“It’s easy to see how these services would be particularly valuable in rural areas.”