Friday, September 7, 2007

Cognitive Radio Technology for VHF/UHF Public Safety & Business/Industrial LMR

While doing some research for a client recently, I came upon a very interesting paper written earlier this year by Nancy Jesuale and Bernard Eydt titled "A Policy Proposal to Enable Cognitive Radio for Public Safety and Industry in the Land Mobile Radio Bands".

The authors offer some interesting perspectives on the age-old problems associated with LMR system interoperability (a "hot topic" today, particularly when considering the current state of Public Safety radio system interoperability in much of the U.S.), a historical account of FCC and NTIA spectrum regulation and policy, the lack of innovation in frequency allocations, and more.

They also make the suggestion that an emerging new technology known as
Cognitive Radio (a term first coined in 1991 by Joseph Mitola) could improve spectrum efficiency and spectrum availability for all users in the VHF and UHF LMR bands. Here is the abstract:

"The frequency bands that have been licensed to the land mobile radio (LMR) services for decades are a tremendously fertile field for the deployment of cognitive radio technology. This paper outlines several reasons why policy-based cognitive radios would be particularly useful for modern public safety, federal non-military and business/industrial applications, especially in
the VHF and UHF bands, where 80% of the public safety, federal and business/industrial licenses are currently held.

This paper argues that many interoperability deficiencies are directly related to the original approach to spectrum policy and radio frequency regulation developed in the early 1920's, which segmented uses of LMR spectrum into several use classes.
It provides a historic perspective to explain why the current status of LMR infrastructure, operations and licensee behavior is a direct result of antiquated policies and technologies still applied and deployed in these bands. The paper discusses the reasons that cognitive radio could be a successful solution for the apparent congestion in the bands. It suggests that policy-based cognitive radio systems operated on a cooperative, shared basis could lower costs of use and aid coordination for emergency responders across both public and private sectors of the traditional LMR user community.

We discuss policy reforms and innovations such as spectrum pooling
and spectrum portability that could spur new shared infrastructure development and spectrum efficiencies. We suggest several key policy reforms for consideration, including immediate cessation of ongoing narrowbanding initiatives, decoupling of spectrum licenses from spectrum access, and national spectrum management by frequency coordinators."

The paper (12 pages) is well worth the time to review for those interested or concerned with spectrum matters.


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