CSIRO's Ngara internet transmission project begins in Tasmania, shows hopes for rural broadband

Darren Murph
D. Murph|12.20.10

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Hard to say if you're aware, but Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (best known 'round these parts at CSIRO) was the first to develop the WiFi transmission technologies that are widely used on Planet Earth today, and they've got stacks of infringement lawsuits to prove it. Now, the organization is testing out a radical new approach to solve the rural broadband problem, and rather than relying on newly opened spectrum or other forms of black magic, they're simply tasking existing analog TV antennas to work a little overtime. Put simply, Ngara uses the broadcast towers that already exist in rural towns that receive television signals, and then with a new set-top box and a modified TV antenna, it's able to funnel broadband internet into faraway homes. Recent tests in Tasmania -- sections with higher populations of Devils than Earthlings -- have shown the uplink working just fine, but they're still a good ways out from getting data to download. Project manager David Robertson surmises that it'll be around four years before the technology is ready for the commercial market, and you can bet your bottom (Australian) dollar that we'll be counting down the days. And so will everyone else stuck in the Big Apple wondering why Jimmy McMillan didn't get elected for mayor.

[Image courtesy of Geoff Ambler / CSIRO]
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