New system sends Wi-Fi via in-building GSM network

Von Dahna McConnachie

A new use of technology aims to take away the cost barrier to wireless adoption by using existing GSM networks.

The method consists of two hardware devices, a power amplifier and a diplexer, which allow standard wireless access points to broadcast a signal across an existing, in-building GSM antenna network.

It works by transmitting the signal output from any type of Wi-Fi access point to a power amplifier which will boost the signal to make up for loss over the distance of the mobile network. A diplexer merges the Wi-Fi signal into the existing network and broadcasts the Wi-Fi signal out to all antennas and a splitter then sends the signal to the GSM antenna, ready for Wi-Fi users.

Brendon Granger, director of Business Development Asia Pacific said the solution halves the cost of providing in-building wireless access.

Granger is in discussion with mobile providers in Australia that are looking to trial the solution.

The technology has been deployed by Thai mobile provider TrueTel in 200 buildings across Bangkok, enabling the telco to run GSM 900 and 1900, CDMA 2000 and 802.11 Wi-Fi all across the same in-building RF network.

Granger said a Malaysian telco is also considering the technology at the request of a commercial property developer which is looking for a cost-effective way to enable its buildings for data.

Although in-building GSM and CDMA (RF) networks are more common in Asia than in Australia, Granger is hopeful that this is a growing trend and local telcos will see the benefit of the solution.

"It enables them to capitalize on existing infrastructure and move more into delivery of data," he said.

Optus director of business mobile, Michael Smith said the idea of delivering Wi-Fi via mobile networks has some interest, but he is yet to move into a trial of the solution.

"If it delivers as documented it would extend Wi-Fi availability in many companies and would be extremely cost-effective," he said. Smith said that wireless is a growing segment, not only for voice but also for data.

"As capacity in these networks increases, so too does the customer value proposition. As such, Optus is keenly reviewing all the platforms currently available (and those soon to come) to determine which can offer optimal solutions," he said.

"Any way in which we can leverage existing infrastructure to provide customers with additional services is a true win/win situation."