Array of screens showing the 16 streams of DVD quality video sent simultaneously over the link.

CSIRO's six gigabits per second wireless communications link.

World's fastest, most spectrally efficient wireless communications link

CSIRO achieved a world first in wireless communications by transmitting data over a wireless link at six gigabits per second with no perceptible delays or loss of quality.

  • 2 December 2009 | Updated 14 October 2011

Using CSIRO’s award-winning technology it would take about six seconds to transfer a DVD quality feature length movie.

This is five times faster than commercially available wireless links and more than 100 times faster than contemporary wireless local area networks.

While other technologies have been faster with lower efficiency, or slower with higher efficiency, CSIRO achieved both speed and efficiency in one technology.

CSIRO’s demonstrator set a world class benchmark for point-to-point systems and is the first step towards even faster connections.

Technical details

In December 2006 CSIRO transmitted 16 simultaneous streams of DVD quality video over 250 metres across an outdoor range with no delays or loss of quality. The transmitter power was only 0.25 milliwatts. This demonstration only utilised a quarter of the link’s capacity.

CSIRO’s system operates at 85 gigahertz (GHz) in the millimetre wave part of the electromagnetic spectrum (that is, above 55 GHz). Able to transmit data at 6 gigabits per second (Gbps), it is the fastest in this band.

Other technologies have been faster with lower efficiency, or slower with higher efficiency, CSIRO achieved both speed and efficiency in one.

The system combines four 1.5 Gbps digital channels into a single channel with very high spectral efficiency. This refers to the average number of bits of information per unit of time that can be transmitted per unit of bandwidth. It is expressed as bits per second per Hertz (b/s/Hz). CSIRO’s system achieved 2.4 b/s/Hz – a significant advance on contemporary technology at 0.7 b/s/Hz.

The four channels are combined in a digital modulator at the transmitter, sent as one channel, then separated back out at the receiver in a demodulator that performs signal processing at 2 gigasamples per second.

Research innovation

CSIRO’s multigigabit wireless link was achieved through innovations in:

  • patented frequency-domain channel multiplexing techniques
  • advanced system architectures to achieve the target data rates.
  • high performance monolithic millimetre wave integrated circuits (MMIC) for the receiver and transmitters
  • innovative digital design and signal processing.

Applications

This technology is ideal for situations where a high speed link is needed but where fibre may be too expensive or difficult to install.

Because the link can be set up quickly, this technology could also replace fibre networks damaged during a disaster.

CSIRO’s system can operate over one kilometre: a commercial system would use more power and transmit over several kilometres.

Awards

This technology has won the following awards:

  • Australian Engineering Excellence Award, 2007
  • CSIRO Chairman’s Medal, 2007
  • best paper award at the prestigious International Joint Conference of the 9th Topical Symposium on Millimeter Waves and the 8th Millimeter-Wave International Symposium, 2007.

Read more about the current status of this work in Building high bandwidth wireless communications links.