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Software Radio Infrastructure for Interoperability

Award Information

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2000, $169,973)

Project summary for 2000-MU-CX-K024 Vanu, Inc. proposes to evaluate the feasibility of using software radio technology in the communications infrastructure of a typical public safety agency. They propose to do this by investigating three key technical areas. These include: the radio frequency (RF) "front end" of the software radio; fail-over mechanism; and system scalability. The RF front end work is necessary because the radio communications of public safety today is spread over 10 different radio frequency bands and there is no single product which meets the dynamic range needs of public safety over all 10 bands, simultaneously. This will be necessary if software radios are to be incorporated into the wireless infrastructure of public safety and be used to overcome interoperability issues. Fail-over mechanisms are necessary, due to the extreme importance and criticality of public safety voice communications. They cannot afford to have a simple misunderstanding if the software radio fails. There needs to be an instantaneous switch to a back-up device. Finally, it is one thing to demonstrate one or two software radios operating by themselves. It is another thing to demonstrate software radio architecture supporting an entire communications system. The issue of scalability is critical and must be addressed if software radio is to ever migrate to the "real world". At the completion of this project, we should know if software radio infrastructure is viable in the near future (3-5 years). If so, this would mean that software radio could support multiple air-standards in different bands simultaneously, enabling interoperability between commercial and law enforcement systems. It would also enable interoperability between systems in any public safety radio band without exchanging or modifying existing handsets in any way. This dual use can greatly decrease the cost of law enforcement infrastructure where the coverage areas of commercial and law enforcement systems overlap. The software radio infrastructure also provides a migration path, via software upgrades, to new standards for both voice and wideband data systems.

Date Created: September 29, 2000