US Moves Forward on Software Defined Radio
By Eric Lin, Fri Dec 19 04:00:00 GMT 2003

Don't hold your breath, but the United States FCC has issued a call for comments on Software Defined Radio. The laws and rules aren't changing yet, but this is a big step towards new smarter wireless technologies.

It's rare that the US sets the trend in wireless. They are keeping pace with other regions in EDGE and CDMA 1x technologies, but they are well behind on 3G and other recent wireless standards. But the US is positioning itself to leap ahead in a new field- software defined or cognitive radio (SDR), we learned thanks to Wireless Week.

Instead of working on a single protocol in a limited spectrum, SDR is designed to be flexible in both protocol and wavelength. This allows equipment to make better use of spectrum, transmit at a higher power with less interference, and even act as a translator between two different protocols or spectrums in some cases.

While the FCC hasn't changed any rules yet, they are accepting proposals and comments (PDF) on how SDR could be used in the US with heavy emphasis on rural and public safety applications) but a forward thinking call for mesh networking as well. They also seek advice on how they will need to change licensing and authorization processes to accommodate SDR.