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Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Cognitive radio for old TV spectrum
Cambridge Consultants has developed a novel, low-cost ‘spectral sensing’ cognitive radio technology platform that will allow any radio product to transmit without interference over so the called ‘whitespace’ frequencies at 700MHz recently vacated by the US digital TV switchover. With InCognito, it is aiming to do for whitespace what it did for Bluetooth and Zigbee, spinning off companies such as Cambridge Silicon Radio.
Whitespace is highly desirable TV band frequencies that easily penetrate walls, potentially extending the range of Home Area Networks (HANs) and enabling a range of novel new applications, such as reliable high-definition video streaming from a single access point to every room in a house. Innovative use of whitespace radio will also make it possible to increase the accessibility of low-cost high speed wireless internet services, including those rural communities which are currently poorly served.
The new frequencies, recently authorised in the USA by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), greatly increase the overall wireless bandwidth available to computers, set top boxes, laptops, WiFi hot spots and other radio devices that currently use the unlicensed band around 2.4GHz. They also have the potential to greatly extend the range of these devices.
“We’ve seen so much game-changing innovation in the unlicensed 2.4GHz band, but I believe the FCC’s decision to open up the ‘whitespace’ radio frequencies for innovation promises even more. We will quickly see a wave of innovation in wireless products and services around 700MHz, bringing benefits both to consumers and to the innovative businesses that move quickly into the whitespace market,” said Luke D’Arcy of Cambridge Consultants.
But the decision is not without controversy. The primary incumbent users of these TV band frequencies are concerned about the potential for interference caused by the influx of new users. “Based on highly complex cognitive ‘spectral sensing’ radio technology which, until now, has only been used in defence and security applications, the InCognito platform enables ‘whitespace’ radios to quickly and accurately detect and avoid other broadcasts," saidD'Arcy. "We also understand that the most successful technologies in use in these markets today are based on open industry standards, which is why we have taken our platform to the CogNeA Alliance. This, together with our track record of fast product development, means that any client can take advantage of the new spectrum quickly and easily - adding this potentially low cost technology to a client’s device could take as little as a few months. I believe we will start to see the first cognitive radio enabled products in mid 2010 and that the market will develop quickly.”
The CogNeA Alliance aims to drive the definition and adoption of industry-wide standards for wireless devices to operate over the new TV white spaces. Kiran Challapali, CogNeA’s Chairman, said “Cambridge Consultants has helped get many successful new standards such as Bluetooth, DECT and Zigbee off the ground. We welcome them to our alliance, which includes companies like Philips, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, ETRI and Georgia Tech, and we look forward to working together to make CogNeA a successful standard."
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