The Cognitive Radio Working Group at the SDR (Software Defined Radio) forum is beginning work that could show up in a couple of years as "smart handsets" that can roam without regard to spectrum or protocol.
Cognitive Radio, according to Allan Margulies, SDR chief operating officer, combines service-provider base stations and user radio devices. The radio stations and base devices know the environment, what users want to do and what radio characteristics are needed. The devices are then able to make decisions about radio configuration in order to accomplish the operation.
In a recent telephone interview, Margulies told me that software-defined radios use software commands to configure power, frequency and other operating characteristics so that a mobile handset, for example, can use one radio chip set to work worldwide. Without SDR, the very same handset would need to be stuffed full of hard-coded radio chips—an unrealistic design—to do the same thing.
With Cognitive Radio, the service provider and the handset work together to determine how the handset should be configured, with no user knowledge needed and no intervention required by IT staff. Although specifications are still several years away, I recommend IT managers keep an eye on the SDRs work at www.sdrforum.org.
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