The objectives of the project are the integration and trial of a communications system that exploits the unique features of two wireless technologies, namely DVB-RCS and terrestrial wireless 802.11x.
The system is expected to be particularly relevant to some rural communities, which are suffering, when compared with urban communities, from a lack of broadband communications (the so-called digital divide). The new system will provide a broadband system that is easy and quick to install. The system can be shared by end users making it cost effective.
The key issues addressed in the project are:
- Seamless integration of the two technologies,
- Back office support for services,
- Bandwidth management,
- Flexible service packages suitable for a variety of users.
The expected benefits brought by the project are:
- The availability of cost effective broadband communications in small rural communities that are, and will remain, outside the reach of typical terrestrial communications networks,
- Further support for the growing trend of knowledge-based workers migrating from the cities to the countryside,
- Support for the regeneration of rural economies that this trend encourages,
- Extend the range of applications and hence market for satellite technologies.
The architecture of the system to be developed in the project can be seen in the following diagram:
Communications between end users (companies A & B) and the Internet are transmitted via the DVB-RCS terminal and the Hub, providing a high bandwidth channel. Rather than requiring each end user to purchase his own costly DVB-RCS terminal, BARRD will enable this equipment to be shared by a community of end users, through the use of the latest wireless technologies. Each user within wireless range of the DVB-RCS terminal, a distance typically of 2 km, will have access to high bandwidth communications. All he needs is low cost wireless equipment.
The expected plan follows a standard engineering approach with the following work packages:
- Design & Development,
- Trial preparation and operation,
- Evaluation and future planning,
The project started in June 2003 and achieved the following:
- User Requirements were gathered,
- Service Specifications were completed,
- An architecture and Baseline Design Review (BDR) were completed,
- Satellite hub infrastructure was installed and tested,
- RCS terminal and WiFi equipment were integrated,
- A Mid Term Review was completed,
- RCS terminals and WiFi equipment were installed at 20 sites around the UK and more than 60 clients connected by Wifi,
- Services, such as email, were implemented,
- Feedback from users was obtained,
- Statistics from a network-monitoring tool were gathered and analysed,
- A Strategic Plan was developed for rolling out the system on a commercial basis.
The project has now ended, some users have been transferred to commercial contracts and efforts are continuing to roll-out the system.