EHF-a new frontier?

A European Union research group has been exploring the potential for wireless communications in the spectrum between 30 to 300 GHz--the Extra High Frequency (EHF) bands. The group, which is known as Integrated Photonic mm-Wave functions for Broadband Connectivity (IPHOBAC), has been working particularly on communications in the 60 GHz band. This spectrum could be used to deliver broadband services to users who cannot be served by fixed line ADSL. The group has already carried out field trials and has successfully demonstrated reliable connectivity at this frequency, delivering 10 Gbit/s of data throughput in 25 mm/hour of rain over a one kilometre link. The IPHOBAC co-ordinator Andreas Stohr, a professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen, said that even in worse rain conditions, of 85 mm/hour, the link could still provide 99.9999 per cent availability at a range of up to 600 metres. The 60 GHz band is of considerable interest as a number of countries have approved it for unlicensed use. If suitable transmitters and receivers can be developed 60 GHz could become as popular as the unlicensed spectrum at 2.4 GHz. The EU sees 60 GHz as a solution for connecting rural communities to broadband services but in reality it is more likely to be used to deliver greater competition in urban areas.

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