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Australia Wireless Networking Television Technology

Aussie Research Company Brings Wi-Fi To TV Antenna 74

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the humdrums-and-spectrums dept.
joshgnosis writes "The CSIRO has unveiled new technology that could bring internet to people in rural or remote parts of Australia using their existing TV antennas. Analog TV signal is set to be switched off in 2013 but this technology could see the spectrum used to deliver internet straight into people's homes through their TV antenna. Gartner expert Robin Simpson told ZDNet Australia that this would make it much easier for companies to get new customers. 'What appeals to me about it is that it re-uses existing infrastructure, all of the competing wireless technologies tend to use high frequencies and therefore require new base stations, new spectrum and new receiving antenna infrastructure as well,' he said. 'The fact that they're re-using the analog TV stuff gives them a much easier market entry strategy.'"
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Aussie Research Company Brings Wi-Fi To TV Antenna

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  • how awesome and messed up it would look if I tried to just turn on my TV in that area.
    • Re:I wonder.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @12:50PM (#34113734) Homepage

      Since there wouldn't be a vertical or horizontal blanking interval for the TV to try to latch onto, it would just be static like unused stations used to be. No fun pictures.

      I would think that while you could easily receive the signal, transmitting back to the tower would be a problem since TV antennas were designed to be receive only.

      Or do they plan to do a satellite-TV type thing where upstream is a modem and downstream is the wireless? Downloading family pictures takes 2 minutes, uploading 6 hours.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vlm (69642)

        I would think that while you could easily receive the signal, transmitting back to the tower would be a problem since TV antennas were designed to be receive only.

        Or do they plan to do a satellite-TV type thing where upstream is a modem and downstream is the wireless? Downloading family pictures takes 2 minutes, uploading 6 hours.

        Probably upload via phone modem...

        Ham radio guys know you can transmit a couple watts thru a typical TV antenna installation.
        Issues:
        1) The 75 ohm to 300 ohm balun won't survive more than a couple watts. Low power on the HT should be fine. Use 300 ohm twinlead and you can shove a hundred watts thru a typical TV antenna.
        2) Terrible gain per pound or per sq foot of wind load. All that aluminum is for wideband gain as opposed to narrow band gain. You'll be very displeased with the performance compared to a

        • by bhcompy (1877290)

          Biggest problem is legal, at least in the US, no unlicensed intentional radiators at any power level allowed in the TV bands... Going to take FCC rulings, maybe congressional bills. Probably just as bad in Australia.

          Until the queen says, "Make it so."

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by morgauxo (974071)
            'take FCC Rulings'

            Umm... Go have a nice hot beverage. I'm sure you could use it after being frozen the last few years. There have been how many stories about just that taking place here in the US? I can only guess by this article that something similar is happening in Australia. Of course, here in the US wireless mic people have been broadcasting illegally for decades.
        • by LuxMaker (996734)
          FTA: The CSIRO will tomorrow unveil a breakthrough in wireless technology that will allow multiple users to upload content at the same time while maintaining a data transfer rate of 12 megabits per second (Mbps), all over their old analog TV aerial.
        • by morgauxo (974071)
          A typical TV 75-300 ohm balun won't take much. It wouldn't be that hard to swap it out for something a bit heavier duty though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I would think that while you could easily receive the signal, transmitting back to the tower would be a problem since TV antennas were designed to be receive only.

        My father designed TV transmission antennas for RCA (for instance, the one that was on the World Trade Center). He told me that, during construction, they tested the transmission antennas, by using them as receivers. My I visited the construction plant with him, there were a bunch of the sections of the World Trace Center array lying around. We went up on the test platform and he showed me that they had a line of sight to the spot in the distance where the test transmitter was located.

        Cool stuff.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        An antenna is an antenna. The only thing you have to do is tune it to the correct frequency, and that's trivial; a matter of length.

        There's no difference between an antenna for recieving and one for transmitting -- it's just a piece of the right length of wire. Notice that your cell phone only has one antenna, not separate and transmit antennas?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by postbigbang (761081)

          Everything is an antenna, it's a matter of matching the wavelength efficiently to the tranceiver source and the directional relationship between transmitter and receiver. A TV antenna is like any other antenna in that the best reception and transmission have to do with the little tynes or rods or radiators on them matching the exact frequency desired. The old set top monopole and dipole antennas can be tuned by moving the collapsing rods to match the desired frequency. Barring that, it's not as efficient. S

        • Helps to have an antenna segment that's an integral multiple of the wavelength in length.
          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            That's why I said "The only thing you have to do is tune it to the correct frequency, and that's trivial; a matter of length".

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I'm going to have to RTFA, because it seems to me that a rabbit ears is unsuited for wifi frequencies.

      Rabbit ears work great for FM radio, because FM frequencies sit right between channels six and seven in the US spectrum.

      What's the frequency wifi uses again?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Stewie241 (1035724)

        The Wi-Fi in the title is misleading. They are reusing the frequencies that broadcast television used to use.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Thank you; TFA wasn't very good and didn't mention that. I was wondering how they thought they'd get gHz frequencies in and out of an antenna that long.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by reason (39714)

          The "Company" in the title is misleading, too. CSIRO is a government agency, akin to the USGS or NASA.

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

    • by Phoghat (1288088)
      yeah but, I'm in the capital of the world NYC, with a cable connection to Road Runner through Time Warner Cable, and I'm only getting a download rate of 9.61 MB/sec. Damn, wish I lived in the Australian Outback, except of course for for Australia's censorship laws.
  • What about uplink? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlexiaDeath (1616055) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @12:47PM (#34113698)
    Internet, unlike TV is bidirectional. And a transmitter loud enough for the old TV base station, that covers hundreds of km, to hear at each home just doesn't make sense... It takes a lot of energy to power for example...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FrostedWheat (172733)
      The return path isn't omni-directional -- the TV antenna at each home will be focusing most the energy straight towards the tower. Also the bandwidth of the data signal will be much less than a TV signal, so it won't require nearly as much power. Such a link could be done with 10mw but it will be quite slow.
      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        Also the bandwidth of the data signal will be much less than a TV signal, so it won't require nearly as much power.

        You canna change the laws of physics. You still will need enough power in the transmission to allow it to propagate to the receiving antenna, and the power required to do that is almost completely controlled by the carrier frequency and the distance between transmitter and receiver, with little regard to the frequency width of the transmission (as long as that width is anywhere near reasonable).

        That said, it's still not going to be a very useful service, because although I haven't checked recently, I seem

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          They're aiming this at rural areas, and they will almost certainly be using more transmitters with a lower power than TV, so 10,000 people is probably a lot more than you'd actually get per transmitter. That's a small town, while this is more likely to be used for a village plus surrounding area. And don't forget that that 256Kb/s figure is guaranteed bandwidth. As long as they have some kind of channel negotiation, individual users can grab more bandwidth when they need it as long as the other users are
          • by Barny (103770)

            Oh yeah, and dynamic shared bandwidth worked so well when they used it with microwave based wireless broadband in Australia.

            You had about 4 people in an area who would be downloading at about 3Mb/s all the time, and the rest wondering why they are paying so much for dial up speeds ;)

          • by nabsltd (1313397)

            They're aiming this at rural areas, and they will almost certainly be using more transmitters with a lower power than TV, so 10,000 people is probably a lot more than you'd actually get per transmitter.

            More transmitters turns out to be far worse if they are close enough together to cause collisions.

            The solution to this would be to run a really high speed line 50-200 miles into the wilderness and put a tiny transmitter in the town. But, then it becomes a case where the last mile is far easier than the rest, so why not just use DSL (or regular WiFi).

            The assumption I made in my post was that they would be re-purposing already existing TV transmitters after they stop broadcasting TV, and that the existing TV

        • You canna change the laws of physics. You still will need enough power in the transmission to allow it to propagate to the receiving antenna, and the power required to do that is almost completely controlled by the carrier frequency and the distance between transmitter and receiver, with little regard to the frequency width of the transmission (as long as that width is anywhere near reasonable).

          He proposing a change to the laws if physics, I think you are confusing terms here. Two topics here, broadcast pa

    • by nuckfuts (690967)
      It's bidirectional, but heavily lopsided. (Hence the "A" in "ADSL"). With web browsing, for example, tiny amounts of uploaded data (such as mouse clicks) trigger large downloads of data (such as a page full of images). I recall seeing hybrid systems in the past that used a dial-up connection for the tiny upload portion in parallel with a satellite receiver for the download portion.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anon-Admin (443764)

        The problem with your statement (tiny amounts of uploaded data trigger large downloads of data) is that it does not reflect reality.

        Small click to upload your video.
        Small click to send grandma the 50X8mega pixel photos from Christmas.
        Small click to open a VOIP client.
        Let not forget sending out most e-mail where the data sent can be rather large.

        BTW, the reason you "Recall" seeing the hybrid satellite system is that it died and is no longer available for the reasons stated above. If the upload speed is less

        • oops, that should have been 28k not 14k still slow though.

        • by nuckfuts (690967)
          I did not mean to imply that such technology is good for uploading video, using VOIP, (or seeding torrents for that matter). And the model I described DOES reflect reality for many users. Web browsing and e-mail are the most commonly used applications by far. This technology is still useful for people in rural areas where better alternatives are not available. People either live with the slowness of e-mailing large attachments or they choose not to do so, but they can still attain a decent web browsing expe
      • Wow, they are actually transmitting the mouse clicks now? Awesome! I thought those just triggered an HTTP GET request or similar. Never figured they actually digitized the mouse click and sent it over to the server. ;)

        On the other hand, using a modem for upload and a different connection for download is still heavily used for Satellite.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by noidentity (188756)
      The uplink is simple. Remember, Australia is on the lower part of the globe, so radio signals work in reverse there. That means it's easier for homes to transmit back to the central station, but hard for the opposite. That's good, because they can put a big transmitter at the central station, rather than having to put them in homes. Too bad that wouldn't work in the northern hemisphere.
    • I doubt the intention is to have individual users broadcasting upstream directly to a giant base station. More likely, this solution involves deploying some number of intermediate base stations, with each one providing a local WiFi network as well as a backhaul to the central broadcasting station.
  • by vlm (69642)

    Welcome back to teletext, hopefully a little faster this time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teletext [wikipedia.org]

    I remember Wisconsin PBS network stations had the best Teletext pages back in the 80s. "Infotext" as I recall.

  • by schnikies79 (788746) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @01:00PM (#34113906)

    I never saw it in action, but an old PCI ATI all-in-wonder had a driver for networking via tv antenna. I think it might have been one-way, but I can't remember. The manual said it something along the lines of the TV stations being able to send out software or files at specified times. It was sometime in the late 90's I believe.

    Of course I never did see it in action.

    • From the department of redundancy department.

      Sigh..

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by david.given (6740)

      You're not talking about 1980's Teletext [wikipedia.org], are you? An achingly slow way of distributing 1kB information pages by transmitting data during the vertical blanking interval. It was incredibly popular in the UK for television listings, news and (strangely) holidays.

      Also made famous by the BBC Micro, which had a teletext chip in it which could be used as an alternative to its framebuffer graphics modes. As teletext allows you to do eight colour text and primitive block graphics while only using 1kB of video RAM

      • I don't really know. The driver was on the setup disc included with the card but wasn't included in any updates.

      • The BBC dedicated a range of teletext pages to transmitting BBC BASIC programs when the BBC Micro was launched. You could look at them on a TV and copy them to the computer, but there was also an attachment available that let you download them directly. The idea was that the transmitted programs would accompany an educational series, and schools could download the programs for students to use.

        One of the books that accompanied the BBC Micro had instructions for building the decoder yourself, but the BBC

    • by mmj638 (905944)

      Teletext?

      I remember being young and my dad explaining how data got sent to schools using non-visible (vertical blanking interval) parts of the PAL analog TV signal. It was one-way of course, and I believe it had basically no error correction coding.

  • I'm not so sure about the article's multiple mentions of "uploading" without a single mention of downloading. It reads like the lead guy has the two terms confused.

    But then again it's Australia, that crazy place that prefers winter when us normal people have our summer, and swirls their toilet flushes backwards. Oh yeah, and waking up an hour too early instead of an hour too late. What will they think of next?
    • by donscarletti (569232) on Wednesday November 03, 2010 @02:01PM (#34114676)

      swirls their toilet flushes backwards.

      Contrary to The Simpsons, Australian toilets don't swirl, the standard type I believe is called a "non-siphoning washdown", which basically means that the velocity head at the start of the s-trap during a flush is greater than the elevation between the bowl level to the peak of the s-trap. Usually this means the toilet has a slightly higher cistern than American varieties and the s-bend is lower and around double the diameter. The upshot is that this kind of toilet uses less water, since it relies on kinetic energy, not volume which also suits the Australian climate. Also that fecal matter is removed almost as soon as the button is hit is comforting for some. The drawback is that older designs of washdown are slightly unreliable compared to American style siphon toilets, since if the flush's velocity is lost due to a badly shaped bowl or an obstruction, there will be no way of building the hydraulic head needed to complete the siphon in the S-bend and empty the bowl.

      Toilets are so deeply entwined in social norms and so rarely discussed that they become one of the most unexpected parts of traveling the world. Australia and America's common traits such as common language are reflected by the seated (not squatting) position and the fact that fecal matter falls directly into water. The contrary mindsets are evinced by the Australian direct approach of a sudden wave of not quite enough water to instantly clean away most but not all, compared to the American steady but wasteful surge which bobbles the shit halfway to the rim, before finally sucking it away completely when it can take no more.

      • by TuxCoder (1641657)
        Now that is what I call a good download!
        • Yes, I do realise that I responded to a five word aside with a few hundred words about the fluid dynamics of toilets. I just wish that someone would clear that stupid thing up without the standard correct but completely irrelevant answer about the Coriolis forces not being dominant at that scale.

          If you want to want an answer relating to upload and download, I can tell you that even though I am in the northern hemisphere right now, this nomenclature is not clear cut. What is one host's downstream is another

  • WiFI is a trademark, and it describes a wireless network on specific frequencies, specifically 2.4Ghz, 3.6Ghz and 5Ghz using IEEE's 802.11x standards. Because it's wireless, and because it can carry a TCP/IP connection doesn't mean it's WiFI.

    • WiFI is a trademark, and it describes a wireless network on specific frequencies, specifically 2.4Ghz, 3.6Ghz and 5Ghz using IEEE's 802.11x standards. Because it's wireless, and because it can carry a TCP/IP connection doesn't mean it's WiFI.

      If you RTFA you will find that the owners of said trademark are the people unveiling this (CSIRO), meaning that they could apply the trademark to this new technology if they wish.

      • The article isn't correct. The 802.11 standards and WiFi was not developed by CSIRO. The technology was first invented (and patented) by CSIRO. Following this various tech companies developed the standards/brand, without dealing with CSIRO at all. CSIRO sued one company, they settled, and most other companies have come to an agreement with CSIRO.
  • That's a cracker of an idea!

  • Awesome, innovative new technology being developed on the back of funds earned from their last wireless patent. Thanks CSIRO.
  • Analog TV is being switched off in some places in Australia already, not 2013... It's being shut off in my town on December 14th.
  • Aussie Research Company

    CSIRO stands for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - they're not a company, they're a government organization that does research. In a sense they're similar to the American NASA, except they have a much more diverse range of research.

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