Saturday, November 6, 2010

Can TV improve our internet service?

Across the ditch in Australia, the battle between television and the internet may be about to take an interesting turn.

Studies have shown that for quite some time now, people have been turning off their TV sets in favour of spending time online, either engaged in social networking, watching YouTube videos or soaking up other content.

Many broadcasters have attempted to keep their grip on a rapidly defecting audience by serving up a growing range of previously broadcast material via the web. Here in NZ we've seen the same thing, with both TVNZ and TV3 delivering "on demand" TV programmes from their broadcast catalog.

However, in Australia, television may be coming to the rescue of those websurfers who are finding it difficult to get a high-speed broadband connection.

One prospect currently being considered is to use the huge number of TV antennas that will be come redundant with the switch to fully-digital broadcasting, as a method of providing wireless internet services.

While most densely populated areas will be better-served by existing DSL and fibre technologies, there are a good number of smaller centers with just a few hundred to a few thousand residents for who, the laying of new high-speed cables may well be uneconomic.

The CSIRO in Australia has already been trialing advanced wireless technology that promises speeds up to four times faster than conventional WiFi systems and which would turn those old TV antennas into a powerful link to the cyberworld.

The only catch is that the technology is, according to those developing it, still a couple of years away from commercial production -- by which time those antennas may have already been pulled down or more expensive fibre may have been laid.

The Australian NBN company has said it was examining the option but considered that for the time being, existing wireless technologies may be the only alternative for smaller, more remote provincial towns.

If eventually implemented, the CSIRO's system has the potential to be faster and cheaper than those interim options.

I wonder if, with the switch to digital TV only a few short years away here in NZ, if we might be able to use the Aussies technology -- which should be commercialised at just the right time.

There are plenty of small rural settlements around NZ which are capable of receiving a terrestrial TV signal whose TV antennas and TV repeater systems could be repurposed to the task of delivering high-speed *affordable* broadband.

It's either that or sell the frequencies relinquished by the TV broadcasters to the mobile phone companies.

Which option would you consider the best one?

1 comment:

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