Gigabit speed at home without cable clutter
FP7 project OMEGA
A high-speed home network without cable clutter – this is the vision of the new European research project OMEGA, which has started in January 2008. The project is set out to develop a global standard for ultra broadband home networks. The new standard will enable transmission speeds of one gigabit per second without the need to install any new wires in the home.
The demand for such gigabit home networks is driven by the emerging future Internet services running over new high-speed optical access networks and the rapidly growing number of communicating devices in the home.
Limits of current home networks
Current home networks suffer from the fact that many devices are limited to wireless transmission rates of 54 megabit per second, or require troublesome wiring to achieve higher rates. Thus, current home networks are at risk of becoming a bottleneck, when fed by high-speed optical access networks, which offer 100 megabit per second or more, both down- and upstream.
OMEGA will overcome these limitations by increasing the speed to one gigabit per second and by connecting home devices to the Internet and to each other through power line communications and wireless connections. This will put an end to the coverage limitations as well as the wiring clutter, giving users access to advanced information and communication services anywhere in their home.
Emerging Internet services that require high bandwidth and high transmission speeds include novel entertainment services like telepresence, 3D gaming, enhanced interactivity, virtual reality, high-definition video as well as e-health applications and services for the exchange of user-generated business or multimedia content.
High-bandwidth services as utility
OMEGA’s vision is to make access to such bandwidth-hungry services as normal and convenient as getting water from the tap. “Getting information, business, and entertainment services through the home network will become a self-evident utility, like, for instance, electricity, water, or gas,” says Jean-Philippe Javaudin, the OMEGA project coordinator from Orange Labs, France Telecom.
In order to get there, OMEGA will not only increase transmission speeds, but also make the new generation of home networks easy to install and operate for ordinary users. For wireless connectivity within the house and even in the garden, OMEGA’s home network solution will combine gigabit radio frequency and free-space optical links with power line communications, thus creating a communication backbone without new wires. This approach will also be applicable to flats and small offices. "Users will not need any new wires in their facilities to update towards the gigabit home network," explains Martial Bellec, OMEGA’s technical manager from Orange Labs, France Telecom.
Technology-independent MAC layer
At the heart of the new system is a technology-independent media access control (MAC) layer. This layer controls the multiple technology gigabit network and provides services as well as connectivity to any number of devices in any room of the house or flat. Furthermore, this MAC layer will allow the service to follow the user from device to device. In order to make this vision come true, OMEGA will work on substantial technological challenges in the fields of optical wireless and wireless radio technologies, in protocol design, and in system architectures.
As a complement to the next generation of broadband access networks, OMEGA’s gigabit home network will empower citizens to use novel services in areas such as healthcare, communication, and entertainment, and offer significant economic opportunities to the European information and communications industry.
OMEGA is an Integrated Project co-funded by the European Commission under EU Framework Programme 7. It is running for three years from January 2008 to December 2010. The interdisciplinary project consortium consists of 20 European partners from industry and academia.
Further information is available on the OMEGA website at http://www.ict-omega.eu.
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