Spectrum crunch and connecting communities
All of us can admit to using maps when we are lost, watching a YouTube video on the train or finding the nearest restaurant using an app. But our increased use of mobile data and the number, variety, and applications of personal mobile devices is driving an unprecedented demand for greater wireless connectivity.
It is important for reasons of economic growth and social equity that all Australians have the opportunity to access broadband over a connection that gives them a meaningful level of access back into the network. Getting broadband connectivity to Australia's rural and remote areas is difficult because the population is sparsely scattered over a wide area.
As we rapidly approach the limit of what current systems can achieve we need to start developing new technologies that can overcome these challenges.
We have developed three new wireless technologies (Access, microwave backhaul and E-band backhaul) called Ngara to deal with the growing threat of mobile data explosion and connecting communities in remote areas. This patented technology has been designed to efficiently use spectrum and service vast and contrasting geographical areas, with very low population density, and little to no existing or planned fixed-line telecommunications infrastructure.
Infographic called 'How Ngara works' Includes a picture of a city with the following text overlaid:
- What is Backhaul? Backhaul is the technical name referring to the behind the scenes part of the network, which relays you data from place to place before it eventually ends up at your device. The more people connect to a network, the more bandwidth the backhaul needs to support them all at the same time. The technologies we use to connect to the network, such as transmitters in our cell phones, are appropriately named "Access technologies."
- GPS synchronisation, ensuring data doesn't get jumbled between main tower and access points.
- Parallel beamforming. Precisely targets EM waves connects up to 12 locations with just one frequency. Great for rural areas.
- Very low frequencies. Beams bend round trees and buildings just like TB signals.
- Sharing access points. Powers WLAN hotspots to give rural areas cheaper mobile data than 3G.
- As fast as fibre optic, Ngara automatically detects unused spectrum and "squeezes" it together for up to 700 MHz.
- Optimising the spectrum, the bandwidth of 40 traditional microwave dishes, using only one antenna.
- Suitable for miners, separate long-range beams stop different industrial sites cannibalising bandwidth.
About the name Ngara
In acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land, Ngara – a word of the Darug people meaning to listen, hear and think – was chosen as the name of our wireless broadband technologies. Darug elders gave their permission to use the word at a ceremony at our laboratory in the Sydney suburb of Marsfield – part of Darug lands.
Wireless broadband to Australia and beyond
Ubiquitous, superfast broadband will soon underpin how people communicate with one another and how they interact with devices and the environment to a far greater extent than is the case today. Our wireless researchers are playing an important role in developing technology that can help us close the digital divide in areas where laying fibre isn’t feasible due to cost, distance or the inability to dig up certain locations.
Our researchers have developed and are currently testing a backhaul link of 5 Gigabits-per-second with Australian company EM Solutions and are developing a 10 Gigabit-per-second link that is tens of times faster than current technology: a performance close to that of fibre. We have also licensed our Ngara Access technology to Australian company RF Technologies for delivering high bandwidth communications to emergency services and public transport vehicles.
We are now looking to conduct a wide scale trial of the Ngara technology in remote communities to demonstrate the system’s ability to deliver fast reliable broadband, allowing all community members the opportunity to benefit from digitally broadband enabled health, education and government services.