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5/10/2006
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$3.6M Euro Project Targets Integrated Wireless Nets

The Imperial College of London has teamed up with Intel, Lucent Technologies, and Telefonica, among others, in an effort to produce a prototype for an integrated set of antennae and wireless networking technologies by June 2008.

LONDON — Researchers at Imperial College, London have teamed with companies such as Intel, Lucent Technologies and Telefonica to develop an integrated set of antennae and wireless networking technologies that can work together to connect homes and offices.

The project, dubbed MEMBRANE (for Multi-Element Multihop Backhaul Reconfigurable Antenna Network), is expected to run until June 2008, by which time the project team are hopeful they will have built a prototype of the key elements of such a wireless network.

Professor Kin Leung, project coordinator from both the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and the Department of Computing at Imperial College, said:” We are hoping that we could see this technology in use within the next five to ten years.”

Other participants in the Euros 2.8 million ($3.6 million) part European Commission funded project under the auspices of the EC’s 6th Framework Program include the world renowned research laboratory ETH Zurich, and Intracom.

The project aims to use wireless links with advanced antennae to beam a radio signal between buildings' local area networks and external routers. A mesh of routers beaming data between them would form a wireless network which would relay data to and from the public Internet.

Issues that the project will be tackling include making certain that networking technologies can work efficiently with the MIMO antennae design, ensuring that the electro-magnetic waves from the antennae head in precisely the right direction and minimizing any radio interference that these waves might cause.

Professor Leung said: “Instead of relying on the use of traditional wired lines, we need to explore alternative, efficient technologies to connect users in homes and office buildings to the Internet.”

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