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NEWS
Demand for Wireless Technologies Studied
April 22, 2011

In the first phase of a more than two-year study funded by InterDigital, Virginia Tech researchers have made great strides in the development of more reliable and efficient spectrum sensing techniques that will be needed to meet the ever-expanding demand for wireless technologies.


From left: William Headley, of Ringgold, Va., a Ph.D. candidate; Claudio da Silva, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Gautham Chavali, also a Ph.D. candidate, of Blacksburg, Va., all at Virginia Tech, are designing spectrum-sensing wireless systems.

“The U.S. government has noted that broadband wireless access technologies are a key foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness, and a better way of life,” explained Claudio da Silva, an assistant professor in Virginia Tech’s Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He was referring to a recent report by the Federal Communications Commission on the need to ensure all Americans have access to broadband capability.

These spectrum-sensing technologies are envisioned to support high speed internet in rural areas, enable the creation of super Wi-Fi networks, and support the implementation of smart grid technologies. However, implementation of these technologies is seen as the “the greatest infrastructure challenge of the 21st century,” according to the commission’s report.

A major key to solving this challenge is in the design of wireless systems that more efficiently use the limited radio spectrum resources, said Prof. da Silva. “As a means to achieve this goal, the U.S. government, through the Federal Communications Commission, has recently finalized rules to make the unused spectrum in the television band available to unlicensed broadband wireless systems. In these systems, devices first identify underutilized spectrum with the use of spectrum databases and/or spectrum sensing and then, following pre-defined rules, dynamically access the “best” frequency bands on an opportunistic and non-interfering basis.”

“The U.S. government has plans to release even more spectrum for unlicensed broadband wireless access,” added Prof. da Silva. “While sensing is not a requirement for television band access, the Federal Communications Commission is encouraging the continued development of spectrum sensing techniques for potential use in these new bands.”

InterDigital develops advanced wireless technologies that are at the core of mobile devices, networks, and services worldwide. Using a holistic approach to addressing the bandwidth crunch, the company is developing innovations in spectrum optimization, cross-network connectivity and mobility, and intelligent data. InterDigital has provided funding for this 30-month research project, including the donation of state of the art laboratory equipment that will support different wireless projects at Virginia Tech.


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