Genesis project helps wireless connections go global
A research project has successfully operated a prototype communication platform using broadband wireless technology in a remote part of northeastern Spain. The aim of the scheme was to test the feasibility of bringing telephone and multimedia services via the Internet to customers in isolated rural areas. Its success paves the way for telephone companies and internet providers to expand into new markets in both remote areas and emerging economies. The 2-year Celtic Genesis project was supported by EUREKA, a 38-member platform for market-oriented R&D (research & development) entrepreneurs in Europe and beyond that offers research and innovation support to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), universities, research institutes and industry. The communication test platform was set up in the mountainous Pyrenees region of northeastern Spain and the tests were carried out with real users including a group of business offices. The focus of the project was ensuring compatibility with both wired and wireless networks. Internet voice technology (VoIP) was successfully transmitted over advanced, high-speed wireless broadband (WiMax), effectively providing multimedia services to the offices. The test proves that a purpose-built communication platform can operate to high standards and offer low-cost multimedia services in remote or challenging rural areas. According to Celtic Genesis coordinator Mark Roddy, the EU projects manager at Lake Communications in Ireland, the project provided seamless use of a high-quality service, plus access to various internet-based applications. 'A considerable amount of work went into building and testing the system in the laboratory,' he stated. 'The rural test bed was the final proof we needed that the system is viable. It also provided invaluable feedback from users, which is helping the project partners to further develop their products.' The success of the project has already led to the first VoIP service in Spain, operated by Embou, the Spanish-based internet services provider (ISP) that carried out the initial tests. This is attracting more than 50 new subscribers a month; before their involvement in the project the company had only 1,500 subscribers. Other telecommunications companies are also taking up the Celtic Genesis gauntlet. The Israeli-based Alvarion, one of the leading pioneers of WiMax, used the new technology to test a base station subsystem that controls admission to the network. Another company, Telefónica I+D, which is the R&D wing of Spain's largest telecommunications provider, has also used the technology to test advanced business services such as an auto conference facility that uses a user-presence detector. Santiago Martin, from Telefónica I+D, who coordinated the Celtic Genesis project in Spain, commented: 'Having real users at that stage of research is not so common, and it is easy to lose sight of how products can be used in real situations. Opinions and feedback from users is vital information for business development units.' Other companies getting involved include the Norwegian-based ISP Gintel, which is launching a new series of products based on the Celtic Genesis technology. 'The project gave Gintel an opportunity to work within a professional grade test-lab and a well-organised user validation effort, giving valuable inputs for product improvements,' the company said in a statement. Looking to the future, the Celtic Genesis partners are now planning to research mobile access to the platform with the creation of a further project called Genesis X.
Spain, Ireland, Israel, Norway