The Software Radio Dept

Opinion: The FCC has approved at least one implementation of something called software-defined radio (SDR). Will it dominate all forms of wireless communications in some not-too-distant future?

The Software Radio Dept.: The FCC has finally approved at least one implementation of something called software-defined radio (SDR). For almost a decade, experts in the field have told me that SDR will dominate all forms of wireless communications in some not-too-distant future. Essentially, the idea is to create an architecture that uses software to replace as much hardware as possible, thereby reducing the cost of radios while increasing their versatility.

A perfect software-defined radio can emulate any type of radio (AM, FM, UWB, 802.11, etc.) currently in use while creating a few new types in the process. Ideally, an SDR system could also adapt to signals on the fly and change as needed from one form to another. Thus, if you were running 802.11b and wanted to change radios to handle 802.11a, youd just download some new software instead of replacing the radio.

No offense to all the people working on this technology, but it sounds a lot like initiatives weve already seen in computing, with emulation of chips and universal operating systems and bit-slice computers and whatever. Its too hard to make it work as advertised. No letters, please. Im just mentioning this, since its going to be in the news more and more. I suspect that the end result of this SDR will be some sort of hack or virus that infects all software-defined radios and makes them broadcast the audio soundtrack of The Jim Belushi Show over and over. That would end it for sure.

A bigger disaster is on the horizon, judging by the current machinations within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and its U.S. agent: Hollywood.

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What is the bigger disaster? Read John Dvoraks column from PCMagazine.