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Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:29

NEC & Melbourne Uni score $4m grant to research future wireless standards

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NEC and The University of Melbourne have been awarded a $4 million grant from the Australian Research Council for collaborative research on future broadband wireless technologies.

The collaboration will link an NEC Wireless Research Group based at the University with NEC research engineers in Australia and Japan. NEC and the University hope to influence, and generate intellectual property in, future wireless technology standards.

Gordon Gay, general manager of NEC Australia's Mobile Global Development Group, said: "NEC has been leading the way in mobile standards and the commercial introduction of 3rd generation networks. We're already developing devices for 4G, and recognise the need to look even further afield to shape the standards and technology for 5G and beyond in response to the global appetite for mobile broadband."

He told iTWire: "We are talking about the standard beyond LTE-A or the one beyond that. We will canvass what we think will be the relevant technologies and look at what people are thinking in research labs around the world'¦We are talking about technologies that will not have practical applications until around 2016 or 2017.

"That is where Melbourne Uni comes in. They have very good connections with the academic world. We bring the practical knowledge and the standards knowledge, which is very hard to get.

Gay said that, by getting in early on these future technologies and standards NEC and the University hoped to generate valuable standards-related intellectual property.

Citing CSIRO's multimillion dollar fees from its WiFi patents, Gay said: "The intellectual property is becoming more and more critical We hope that by going early we will come up with solutions and intellectual property that we both benefit from."

In addition to working on the radio technologies, the group will look at how these integrate to wider communications systems. Gay said: "One of the things that future standards have to address is how everything will be connected together. So part of our research is looking at the network side. People don't want isolated wireless broadband: they want connections to be ubiquitous."

Jamie Evans, professor in electrical and electronic engineering at the University said: "The research will also make inroads into defining cloud computing technology - Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand - from a mobile perspective, as well as providing a commercial alternative to gigabit data access where optical fibre installation is prohibitively expensive or impractical."

The NEC group that will be involved in the project works on algorithms for mobile communications and systems design for NEC globally. Gay said that, by entering into the joint project with Melbourne University, the group hope to "cement our place in the NEC organisation'¦work like this wil only go to groups the produce cutting edge results."

The grant funds the joint research for five years, at the end of which the collaboration will be reviewed.

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