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Software Defined Radio

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Intel has developed a test chip for software defined radio that can handle Wi-Fi, WiMAX and DVB-H digital TV in one chip, reports Electronics Weekly.

It would allow users to access the WiFi network in the home, automatically handover to a WiMAX network when you leave the house and also access digital TV on the move, all through one chip.

“There is a shift from people wanting their content any time, anywhere to any device, any network, and the problem is there are too many radios,” said Jeff Hoffman, system architect for the wireless communications lab.

The chip tapes out next week and uses nine processing elements in different combinations to handle the three protocols. The test chip measures 24mm squared overall and consumes 79mW in receive mode at 52Mbit/s and 72mW in transmit. It links to three RF chips for the different networks.

“This provides all the digital signal processing and forward error correction for these three protocols and the area is still comparable to three fixed function Asics,” said Hoffman.

The Software Defined Radio Forum argues that SDR technology can help public safety agencies make use of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, scheduled to be auctioned off next month. The ability to quickly switch between and among frequencies should facilitate the sharing of frequencies among different groups, proponents argue.

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A report by the forum’s Public Safety Special Interest Group (pdf) states that the SDR approach can conform to FCC regulations, which may require that portions of the spectrum be shared between commercial interests and public safety groups. The report, released Monday, maintains that the two interests can cooperate in meeting the divergent needs of coverage, shared operational control, robustness adaptability, and spectrum use “in the absence of network build-out.”

A Software Defined Radio (GNU software), can integrate many different telemetry bands using software. The Portland State Aerospace Society was at OSCON 2006 demonstrating their open source software defined radio for telemetry (DailyWireless MP3 interview).

Michael Moser of Inbabble interviewed CEO of Vanu, the software defined radio pioneer, about their Anywave Base Station and their relationship with Frontline Wireless.

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Vanu developed the first FCC certified software radio. Vanu demonstrated a 700 MHz Femtocell prototype last month, developed with transceiver chipmaker BitWave and has deployed the first commercial wireless network to operate using both CDMA and GSM standards on a single system. Their Anywave Base Station provides simultaneous operation of multiple wireless standards. It uses Linux software to eliminate the need for specialized signal processing hardware.

Last year, the IEEE 802.22 was designated to develop a standard for unlicensed radios in the UHF television band using unused channels (”white spaces”). The first focus of IEEE 802.22 is on rural fixed wireless access. “Our goal is to equal or exceed the quality of DSL or cable modem services, and to be able to provide that service in areas where wireline service is economically infeasible, ” said Carl Stevenson, chair of the group. It uses elements of Software Defined Radio to find unused channels.

The White Spaces Coalition includes Microsoft, Google, Dell, HP, Intel, Philips, Earthlink, and Samsung Electro-Mechanics. They say unused television frequencies can carry 50 to 100 Mbyte/second and just launched a more consumer-focused organization, the Wireless Innovation Alliance, to counter opposition from the NAB. Dozens of 6 MHz channels are available in every major city in the United States.

DailyWireless has more on Vanu’s Software Radio and Cognitive Radio at Virginia Tech.

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