More room on radio spectrum

Late this past May, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, or PCAST urged the development of better use of spectrum controlled by the federal government. In early June, details of this strategy were revealed.

One approach is to use so-called cognitive radio, which would search for temporarily unused spectrum and switch calls to that frequency. According to The New York Times, “A Florida-based company, xG Technology, developed a version of cognitive radio for the Army that allows communication on military bases. Its technology scans for open channels and clears up interference on busy channels so more people can use them.”

People outside the council weighed in on other, simpler technologies that might work as well, such as smart antennas. Instead of broadcasting in all directions as conventional antennas do, a smart antenna would direct signals at cell phones, reducing energy and increasing clarity.

Yet another approach would use so-called femtocells. These would “… improve cellphone reception by routing calls and data over broadband connections.”

Regardless of whether one or all of these technologies are developed, carriers need more spectrum as consumer demand for wireless data continues to skyrocket. In addition to shared use of government spectrum, increased investment in robust wired networks is necessary to offload wireless data on wired networks.

Presidential Panel Urges More Flexible Use of Spectrum (NY Times, May 25, 2012)

Companies Try to Create Room on Radio Spectrum (NY Times, June 6, 2012)