Friday, December 18, 2009

COGNEA -- a Consortium of Companies for Utilizing the Whitespaces

With the advent of commercially available white spaces in the spectrum, a consortium has formed to help drive the definition and adoption of industry-wide standards for low-power personal and portable wireless devices to operate over the TV white spaces. The consortium board consists of ETRI, HP, Philips and Samsung, with contributions from Motorola and Georgia Institute of Technology. The consortia is named CogNeA for Cognitive Networking Alliance.

The group was born out of the IEEE-802.22 standards effort. In the blog post by Mobie Sands, the author argues that 802.22 will only be competitive in the rural areas and that the interesting standards work now resides in CogNea. Cognea contributed to the standard through ECMA for interference-avoidance mechanisms.

In addition to the usual challenges of creating a standard and driving adoption, the consortium must also wrestle with limited spectrum. While there are available channels in the "whitespaces" left by the move of the TV channels, there's still a limited number of slots. You can use this site called ShowMyWhiteSpaces to locate the open channels in your zip code.

Best regards,

Hall T.

Friday, December 11, 2009

SDR Applications--Solving the Interference Issue

There's a saying in business--find the customer pain and then solve it. While it may be oversimplifying the case for building a business it's not a bad place to start. In the world of Software Defined Radio the corollary is find the interference and then solve it.

Solving interference in the wireless network seems to be one of the over arching themes for SDR companies today. If a technology can solve an interference issue, then there's a definite business opportunity for that technology. Governments around the world are trying to unify their networks to work with other countries and enable inter communications. This is another pain point that SDR could potentially solve.

Other applications include:

Ability to access spectrum during time of emergency.

Interfacing with non-public safety systems. The Minnesota bridge collapse is one example. Bystanders of that disaster could provide photos back to the public safety groups through the use of their cell phones giving first responders additional information.

-- Implementing lower cost broadband service in rural areas with little or no wireless infrastructure. Using SDR to reuse existing networks.

-- Expanding coverage indoors in large buildings through femtocells.

-- Managed access systems for prisons. These can capture cellphone calls and allow only legitimate calls to go through.

-- Assisting in harmonizing the regulatory treatment of satellite signals in countries around the world.

-- Providing backhaul for the satellite industry through broadband and mitigating wireless interference from Wimax systems.

These are just a few of the applications that SDR proponents hope to accomplish.

Best regards,

Hall T.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The SDR Forum -- December 2010 Conference

The SDR Forum promotes the success of the next generation radio technologies with members from commercial, military, and academic circles. The group boasts of a 100+ members. The conference this year was held in Washington DC and grew in attendance to over 500 which is a 20% rise of last year and is remarkable given how most conferences shrank in size.

DannyWeitzman of NTIA gave one of the keynote addresses. In his talk he compared the innovation of the internet in the 1990s to the current state of the spectrum today. The internet was

--easy to add technologies

--cost of failure is low

--done without lawyers, in particular regulatory lawyers.

In an effort to foster the development and adoption of software defined radio tools and technologies he asked what would be helpful and proposed testbeds and structured testing environments. He noted that the internet was itself a platform for testing

The NTIA doesn't hear from the public enough and then threw open the floor for feedback. The resounding answer from the audience to his question was "money." There needs to be an investment of money into the industry to drive development further and faster.

Weitzman noted that the commercial success of the internet happened on the edges and while it was government sponsored in the basic infrastructure, the commercialization was driven less by government and more by the industry players.

Other members of the audience talked about the need for gauging sensitivity of current systems to noisy environments. As the specrum changes, can more users fit into the spectrum without disrupting existing systems? and can we improve those existing systems?

Another comment was the ability to transmit without a license if you're sure you won't interfere with the spectrum. This would speed up development time dramatically. Ironically, there was no wireless service in the keynote room. Why couldn't the engineers use that space without a license to test out their designs?

Best regards,

Hall T.