Wednesday, March 9, 2005

FCC Adopts Rule Changes for Smart Radios

The FCC adopted rule changes for cognitive, or "smart," radio systems. The Commission modified and clarified certain authorization requirements for software defined and cognitive radios to facilitate the development of these technologies. It required that radios that incorporate software designed to be, or expected to be, modified by a party other than the manufacturer provide reasonable security measures to prevent unauthorized software modifications that would either affect the RF operating parameters directly or otherwise indirectly affect the circumstances under which the transmitter operates in accordance with FCC rules. The Commission substituted, at the time of certification, the requirement that the manufacturer of a software defined radio supply software "source code" with the requirement that a manufacturer supply a high level operational description of the software that controls the radio's RF characteristics, and a description of the software security measures employed to prevent unauthorized modifications. It also clarified the rules to permit manufacturers to market radios that have the hardware-based capability to transmit outside authorized United States frequency bands, but required software controls to limit operation to authorized frequency bands when used in the U.S.


Smart radios have the technical capability to adapt their use of spectrum in response to information external to the radio. For instance, a system could use geographic positioning system (GPS) data to determine its exact location, then determine whether certain transmissions are permissible based on that location. Alternatively, such radios could sense their operating or radiofrequency (RF) environment and use this information to determine both the optimal frequency range and transmit power to use, yet avoid harmful interference. Many smart radios can also interpret and transmit signals in different formats or modulation schemes in an effort to transmit without harming others in the vicinity.


Active efforts are currently underway both in industry forums and standards bodies to adopt internationally accepted standards for software defined and cognitive radios.
http://www.fcc.gov

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