[unrev-II] CITRIS Connections: Kalil/Hughes/Hendricks/Mitola/Gilder; UWB-Cognitive Radio (Software-Defined Radio "It's more like a PC")

From: John J. Deneen (jjdeneen@netzero.net)
Date: Fri Sep 21 2001 - 16:14:59 PDT

  • Next message: John J. Deneen: "[unrev-II] CITRIS: LynxOS & The Battle of the Unseen Computer"

    The Universal Cell Phone
    Mobile phones work only in some areas, and they become obsolete rapidly,
    as new features are developed. Flexible software in phones and wireless
    networks could change all that.
    < http://www.technologyreview.com/magazine/apr01/shapley.asp >

    The technique is known to experts as software-defined radio, or SDR.
    ("Radio" refers here not to AM or FM, but to any equipment that
    communicates through the airwaves on radio frequencies, as cell phones
    do.) The advantage offered by this new approach is that it shifts the
    workload of wireless units from dedicated components to software that
    can be reprogrammed to work on a different standard or add applications.
    That's entirely different from today's mobile phones and base stations,
    in which virtually all signal processing is carried out by electronic
    circuitry designed to do one and only one thing.

    So equipment that sniffs out and utilizes unused swaths of spectrum
    could alleviate what the FCC calls the U.S. spectrum "drought."

    To do this, however, will require both base stations and handsets to
    become supersmart—a leap to what Joe Mitola calls "cognitive radio." A
    cognitive device will not only scan its spectral environment; it will
    also have built-in memory and maps and positioning capabilities. Those
    will enable it to react intelligently to its environment.

    Over the past two years, Mitola built a crude civilian version of a
    cognitive radio as a doctoral project for Sweden's Royal Institute of
    Technology. When this device is outdoors, it configures itself to use
    the prevailing cellular phone protocol; when carried indoors it switches
    to the format of the building's local area network. Mitola explains that
    a more advanced version could "know" that the person carrying it is in
    trouble and send a distress signal on the local emergency frequency to
    give rescuers its location.

    But mobile phones that reorient to a new channel for temporary use would
    have to get permission to "rent" that spectrum for some period of time
    from the official licensee. In a paper that foreshadowed his doctoral
    thesis, Mitola proposed a payment system that would employ the signal
    protocols (see "Wireless Rent-A-Channel"). Using such a system, your
    intelligent handheld would scan the spectrum to find a channel that was
    not in use at the moment; for example, it might find one that the local
    fire department had the license to use but was offering for rent. Your
    radio would bid to rent the channel. The fire department's radios,
    receiving the bid, could agree—or wait for other bids. But the instant
    the station's bells rang and the firemen needed their channel back,
    their radios would bump the renter off. Mitola reckons the channel's
    owner could regain control in 25 milliseconds—a delay that would be
    unnoticeable to human speakers. Your cognitive mobile phone would sign
    off, reckoning and paying a bill for time used, then start scanning for
    another open channel.

    The FCC, in endorsing this vision, has joined forces with an unlikely
    ally: George Gilder, self-styled seer of the "telecosm" and critic of
    the FCC for holding back innovation. For years, Gilder has predicted
    that intelligence will grow at the edges of the wireless telecom network
    with the result that channels become fluid. Wireless devices and
    networks that employ flexible software, he says, will "transform the
    entire world of wireless communications," the way personal computers
    transformed wired networks.

    The swaths of spectrum that are most commercially desirable are often
    referred to as prime beachfront property. But Gilder wants people to
    stop thinking of spectrum as some kind of
    ethereal analogue to physical land. "Smart radios suggest not a beach
    but the endless waves of the ocean itself. You can no more lease
    electromagnetic waves than you can lease ocean waves."

    Making that ocean available to billions of people could be one impact of
    flexible software-based wireless networks. But even before we reach this
    nirvana of spectrum abundance, the technology could make wireless
    networks more cost effective and future-proof—and keep the wireless
    revolution rolling.

    Relavent comments from an UWB-Cognitive Radio advocate, Dave Hughes - a
    pioneer of wireless communications and a tireless crusader for universal
    access to the Internet. Dave is currently working on an NSF grant in the
    El Yunque Rain Forest of Puerto Rico, developing ways for field
    scientists to wirelessly retrieve and access data collected at remote
    locations via the Internet.
    < http://www.dandin.com/pdf/Dandin_Chronicles_2.5.pdf >

    Biological Science by Wireless Projects <
    http://wireless.oldcolo.com/biology/projectplan.htm >

    To: isp-wireless@isp-wireless.com
    Subject: RE: Cisco announcment
    From: Dave Hughes <dave@oldcolo.com>
    Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 08:01:29 -0700 (MST)
    < http://isp-lists.isp-planet.com/isp-wireless/9912/msg00052.html>

    On Thu, 2 Dec 1999, Jim Forster wrote:

    > Dave,
    > > Why did Cisco buy Aironet?

    Well Jim, you probably wouldn't know me - we travel through very
    different galaxies in cyberspace, though I am pretty well known in mine.
    My committment, since 1984 when I put up my first 'ISP' (uucp) system,
    then linked it wirelessly in 1994, has been to use Part 15 no-licence
    wireless technology to bring connectivity to (1) the most rural and
    remote - including 3d world - people and places and (2) the 'last mile'
    to the net, bypassing and *really* competing with the ugly Telcos (who
    were also late to the net, now think they have some Divine Right to
    deliver it.) I have *not* been particularly interested in wireless LAN
    business - internal to large companies or organizations. Thats a ho hum
    for me. Because that, and DSL, and lots of cable internet, have been
    only of value to dense urban centers. Where all the net companies are
    fighting bitterly over market share in the biggest cities. But are
    utterly irrelevant to rural, small town, or 3d world (even in their
    urban centers, where their poor PTTs often cannot even deliver a 56kbps
    dedicated circuit)

    So I, my small ISP/consulting company, and through a series of National
    Science Foundation projects the NSF has pressed on me for the past 6
    years, have been pushing the envelope of Part 15 spread spectrum to
    network in SPITE of the severe limitations the FCC has put on the
    devices (higher frequencies requiring line of sight and with poor
    penetrating abilities - trees, walls, and 1 watt of power at the radio)
    to make 5, 10, 25 mile high bandwidth, no-comm-cost, links to those
    entities whose only other choice is being gouged by the like of US West,
    who charges $2,000 a month an up for a 30 mile rural T-1 *even* when
    they themselves use wireless to cross rural areas. While we have been
    able to deliver, custom, that, with no telco cost between the
    institution and the closest ISP. (and only a very few of the 6,000 or so
    ISPs, many of them here on this list, are savy enough to extend wireless
    to end customers - like farmers 10 miles out out of Dillon, Montana. So
    the farmers have to buy a pair of affordable radios and extend their
    links TO the ISP who hasn't got a clue.)

    In fact the State of Texas has just changed their rules for their $1
    Billion Infrastructure Fund, based on my exhortations, so that any
    school, library, or health center in small places like Dime Box, or Cut
    'N Shoot Texas MAY *now* substitute wireless (buy the radios themselves
    and link up to the nearest ISP) instead of being forced to contract with
    a telco and paying the fare for the long reaches between small towns OR
    the 'interorganizational' links - like trying to link 3 to 30 school
    buildings of a city's district to each other where telco montly costs
    can easily be $15,000 or more, rather than wireless links at zero
    monthly costs between buildings.

    And one of those who occasionally posts here, Dr. Inkbhat from DataCom
    in Mongolia, has been able to buy ever more advanced versions of
    wireless data radios and provide advanced connectivity across
    Ulaanbataar, after we, with an NSF grant, installed the first 115kbps
    radios there when all they had was 14.4 dialup back in 1995. They
    quickly learned the potential of this form of wireless technology, and
    have run with the ball themselves since then. Building a model
    applicable to tens of thousands communitities in over 100 3d world
    nations where there NEVER will be DSL infrastructure, or affordable T-1s
    either. And for which wireless LANs are a pretty small market indeed.

    Years ago at a luncheon at the 'First 100 Feet' conference where I
    presented, Tom Kalil, a key White House technology advisor, mentioned
    that, because Cisco was overseas 'firstest with the mostest' it had
    already captured 80% of the international market for routers. But I
    mused then, as now, that no wireless company had seen the light yet -
    including Lucent, or even Motorola, that clumsy ox who was selling
    analog radio telephones to farmers long before the cell phone fad
    started - and really developed data radios that could go after the
    market for net connectivity in places where there is virtually NO
    competition, but great need. 'e-commerce' is a laugher in rural China,
    or even rural Colorado, where some products and services may exist, if
    the enterprise can't get connected at all, or at incredibly high
    wireline prices.

    I know. There is a theory that all this technology will simply 'trickle
    down' to the rural and remote eventually. If we (name the company) just
    get rich on delivering product and services to the densest urban
    advanced economic AND technologically sophisticated markets,
    'eventually' everyone in Dime Box Texas will benefit. I am not waiting
    up for that Santa Claus to appear. Because its not just a question of
    making Aironet wireless LANs to connect up Congressional offices inside
    the beltway, but designing radios, antennas, packages, designed to link,
    at 10mbps, IP and VOIP 25 miles to Alamosa 30 miles from Antonito,
    Colorado. Radios and packages made for point to multi-point, long (25-50
    miles) range, rural customers, are not going to be the ones that work
    for the offices of Chase-Manhattan in NYC.

    And if Cisco-Aironet really tackled that problem, and saw that global
    market, both would wake up to the fact that the FCC technical rules are
    wholly inadequate to make it possible to make 'smart radios' that could
    operate where (rural) there is so little interference its a no brainer,
    and higher power levels could be permitted. And at lower frequencies
    where LOS is not as critical, but going through wet trees is. (right now
    I am the Principal Investigator of a $1 million NSF project modeling the
    use of wireless for the worlds biological scientists working in the
    field and trying to reach their remote data collectors, multi-media,
    real-time, in difficult areas. And am deciding whether Aironet BR500's
    are 'good enough' to get through the lush vegetation of the Puerto Rican
    rainforest to reach the water-monitoring stations 120 feet below the
    jungle canopy, or whether Glenyre's 'always on' (as have been Cylink's)
    data radios will so blanket the RF area that they make it impossible for
    other systems of ours to work nearby. Or whether we should use Wiman
    radios, designed in Germany, which Felipe' Hernandez here uses in his
    Isla.net wireless ISP, that seem to work better in Puerto Rico than a
    lot of fancier US made brand names.

    So WHEN Cisco, not only develops follow-on Aironet radios *I* can use
    everywhere *else* in the world than downtown San Fransico, AND joins in
    an effort to get the FCC (and foreign radio regulatory bodies) to adapt
    its rules for spread spectrum to both permit more powerful, longer
    range, products, especially in fringe and rural low-rf areas, while ALSO
    technologically reducing the interference potential - by doing such
    radical things as NOT grandfathering in old, dirty ss radios made in an
    earlier era - well, then Cisco will have 'won over' me. Until then I
    look for manufacturers who really understand there are about 5.8 billion
    UNCONNECTED people, villages, businesses, schools, agencies, out there
    that somebody will wake up to, as a market, with no-licence radios
    sooner or later. And make the biggest US networking companies look like
    small potatoes.

                                                        Dave Hughes

    P.S. you can look up what my colleage and myself wrote about these
    matters in April, 1998, Scientific American, or I wrote for the MIT
    press 'The First 100 Feet' in May, 1999.

    P.P.S. At the moment I am connecting up from this laptop by means of an
    Aironet PC 4800 lan card (good price at $265) to a BR500 (too stiff a
    price for a small office wireless LAN) DS 10mbps at 2.4ghz in my office
    in my home, to my office from my home via a Wi-Lan of Canada's T-1, FH,
    902mhz, and downtown through our Cisco router, via three (one a relay)
    Aironet BR500's (reasonable price for what they do there) into the Cisco
    router of Qwest, TOTALLY bypassing US West all the way from my desk to
    the net. So I put my money where my mouth is about these things.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Fri Sep 21 2001 - 16:05:02 PDT