Page last updated at 10:08 GMT, Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:08 UK

Boost for future broadband speeds

Lasers, Eyewire
The money is funding cheaper ways to send data using lasers.

The UK government is spending £1m to develop technologies to boost future broadband speeds.

The money is being spent on research that could boost browsing speeds to between 1 and 10 gigabits per second.

The technologies being researched are all to do with broadband delivered by fibre-optic cables.

Some of the 13 projects being funded aim to make it easier and cheaper to build fibre networks to ensure they can reach as many people as possible.

Home net

The cash is being put up by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) for research that will set firms on the path to creating all the pieces of future "ultra-fast" broadband networks.

It will also help those UK firms join larger European projects that are also committed to boosting broadband speeds.

"There's a Moore's Law for bandwidth in the home," said Mike Biddle, a lead technologist for the TSB. "It's doubling roughly every 21 months."

"If you look out to 2020 you start to need about 1 gigabit per second (gbps) and beyond," he added.

"Although you can already get 1 or 10gbps you cannot do it at the right cost point," he said. "That's the barrier we are trying to crack."

One project winning funds will survey possible technologies for ultra fast broadband, and plot a roadmap that dictates the best way for the UK to prepare its infrastructure for that high-speed future.

Others will look into ways to create so-called passive components that make the job of connecting homes to fibre networks straightforward. Currently, building multi-gigabit networks involves complex, expensive components such as tunable lasers.

One scheme, called HOWL (Hi-performance Optical-Wireless Links) aims to create a home wi-fi access point that uses a single chip to connect to broadband networks and convert data to wireless for distribution around a home.

Mr Biddle said the funding was also to help UK companies prepare for a similar Europe-wide competition that would put far more money, 7.5m euros (£6.58m) into research into cheaper fibre networks.

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