City skyline with imaginary wireless links drawn between the buldings.

High bandwidth wireless links are suitable for connecting downtown buildings where cable would be expensive to install.

Building high bandwidth wireless communications links

CSIRO is developing multigigabit wireless links that are laying the foundations for next generation broadband devices and services.

  • 25 June 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011

CSIRO’s experts in wireless technologies are developing new devices, systems and protocols to enable untethered communications at a speed at least equal to a fibre optic connection.

In a world first in 2006, CSIRO transmitted data over a point-to-point wireless link at six gigabits per second (Gbps) with no perceptible delays or loss of quality. By taking just a few steps beyond simply duplicating this link, CSIRO is enabling wireless transmission at much higher data rates.

Finding the right frequency

The radio spectrum is a finite resource and frequencies are allocated to different uses. Wireless applications are currently allocated below 60 gigahertz (GHz). Unfortunately, the wide bandwidth needed for fibre-speed wireless links is not available in this part of the spectrum.

To create its high speed wireless links CSIRO is exploiting part of the millimetre-wave spectrum (30-300 GHz) which is ideally suited to transmitting large amounts of data. Not only does it allow data rates 100 times greater than traditional technologies but there’s also plenty of bandwidth because this part of the spectrum is not yet congested with other users.

CSIRO is building on its world-first success and developing point-to-point wireless links of well over 10 Gbps.

One of the reasons the millimetre-wave band is not widely used for wireless communications is that the necessary equipment is not easy to design and build and it also tends to be more expensive.

Another is that, until recently, this band has been limited for public use to 60 GHz, which proves challenging for wireless links as the signals get absorbed by oxygen in the air, effectively limiting them to indoor use (<20 metres).

In many countries, free spectrum has recently been allocated in the 71-76 and 81-86 GHz bands, providing the opportunity for links with longer range and higher data rates.

Current activities

CSIRO is building on its world-first success and developing point-to-point wireless links of well over 10 Gbps.

CSIRO’s wireless links also have very high spectral efficiency: 2.4 b/s/Hz – a significant advance on contemporary technology at 0.7 b/s/Hz (spectral efficiency refers to the average number of bits of information per unit time that can be transmitted per unit bandwidth, it is expressed as bits per second Hertz – b/s/Hz).

CSIRO is also:

  • reducing the cost and size of the integrated radio modules
  • increasing the speed of digital signal processing
  • reducing the size of the digital modules.

Research innovation

CSIRO's team is advancing multigigabit wireless technologies through innovations in:

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

Applications

CSIRO’s technology is ideal for situations where a high speed link is needed but where fibre may be too expensive or difficult to install, such as in congested urban environments and across valleys or rivers. Because such links can be set up quickly, this technology could also replace fibre networks damaged during a disaster.

It could be used to connect:

  • mobile phone base stations
  • a wireless local area network (WLAN) to the Internet
  • buildings in a downtown area or a campus.

For example, CSIRO’s 10 Gbps link is suitable for point-to-point links over several kilometres with 99.999 per cent reliability.

Partnership opportunity

CSIRO seeks partners among telecommunications infrastructure providers; and equipment manufacturers for product and market development leading to full commercial application of the technology.

Read more about the World's fastest, most spectrally efficient wireless communications link.