Just around the bend

A new high speed mobile broadband transceiver system to be installed in lamp posts across UK could help motorists know what’s just around the next corner.


A new high speed mobile broadband transceiver system to be installed in lamp posts across the UK could help motorists know what’s just around the next corner and enable them to receive the latest offers from a range of local retailers.


This is the result of a new strategic partnership between defence giant Qinetiq and Exeter, Devon, UK-based Last Mile Communications.


In addition to internet connectivity, the system will allow retailers and service providers like hotels and petrol stations to communicate special offers and useful information instantly and very cheaply to all motorists or users within a given radius of given sites or areas.


“QinetiQ’s role will be to develop the technology and then commercialise the transceiver modules for integration into Last Miles’ W-Direct solution,” explained Ian Makin QinetiQ’s business group manager for the project.


The technology completely by-passes traditional ‘hard-wired’ telecom networks and has several significant advantages over current mobile communications networks. It also provides the foundation for a completely new business and revenue models for high-speed wireless broadband data communications, without the need to dig up roads or the headache of extensive civil engineering.


Live user trials of the technology are scheduled for later this year,  but the concept is already generating considerable excitement among content providers, local authorities, network operators and ISPs that have received previews of the system.


The high-speed wireless data network is designed around transmitters that operate in the 60GHz frequency bandwidth. Each node can be located in a separate lamp post and delivers data at between 40 to 400 Mbit/sec, at a range of up to 250m.


Information specific to a given area or town would be uploaded and stored on all appropriate nodes and relayed to the next node / lamp post, as required. It can then be accessed by users as requested, with other content (such as email, news, permission based commercial information and video clips) still being available at very high speed broadband rates – even when being accessed from a moving vehicle.


By operating at around the 60GHz frequency the communications are inherently short range thereby avoiding interference with other existing devices and can be clustered to provide defined areas of local content whilst still achieving national coverage.


QinetiQ is currently looking at the various waveforms and protocols that will be required. Once the technology has been fully developed, it will enter the production engineering phase and appropriate manufacturing suppliers will be identified and signed-up.


“We envisage base level data, such as maps and public safety information being delivered free to the user, and a franchised network of service providers coordinating bespoke commercial content that are paid for by the appropriate suppliers, ”  explained Barry Shrier, Last Mile’s sales and marketing director.