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Driving wireless communication forward: Software Defined Radio and Cognitive Radio

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The demand for wireless broadband applications is continuously increasing. Two technologies enabling this evolution, Software Defined Radio (SDR) and Cognitive Radio (CR) are expected to provide more efficient management of radio resources and to improve re-usability of equipment.

The purpose of a workshop which took place in Ispra on 17-18th November 2011 was to identify a roadmap for the development and use of SDR and CR in Europe, including the need for accelerated standardisation. The attendees strongly endorsed the forthcoming standardisation mandate by the European Commission covering harmonization needs for SDR and CR in the commercial, public safety and military areas. This mandate will be addressed to the European Standards Organisations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI).

Software defined radio is a radio communication system where components that in the past have been typically implemented in hardware (e.g. mixers, filters, modulators/demodulators, detectors, etc.) are instead implemented by means of software. Cognitive Radio is the technology allowing radio equipment to obtain knowledge of its radio environment and to dynamically adjust its operational parameters in order to improve its performance.

SDR and CR promise to bring along substantial benefits:

Reconfigurable and cost-effective architectures for wireless devices

  • Better utilization of the radio spectrum, which is expected to mitigate the ever increasing “spectrum scarcity” problem.
  • open the door for broadband usage in secure communications, which is currently restricted in available technologies
  • Enable open portability among different network technologies
  • Allow for economies of scale by their potential to harmonizing the needs of commercial, public safety and military users.

Creating a set of standards acting as a common framework addressing the needs of all stakeholders would therefore allow for huge economies of scale for future SDR and CR products. Standardisation in this field has great potential for stimulating innovation and competitiveness of the European industry representing core goals of the EUROPE 2020 strategy.

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