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NSF Contemplates Increased Research in Spectrum Access Technology

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is contemplating a major increase in funding in spectrum access research in conjunction with the presidential initiatives in this area. I just attended a 3 day workshop at NSF headquarters that considered possible directions for such a program. The presence of Commerce Secretary Locke and FCC Commissioner Baker at this meeting shows high level interest in the activity.

I will link here to the conclusions of the workshop when they are finished and published. Meanwhile, I will give my suggestions, many of which “got traction” at the workshop, in the hope that they might interest other researchers.


Here's a list of research areas I have been working on for a while. You may wish to consider some at the conference. These are based on my experience at FCC and I have no vested interest in any of them other than intellectual curiosity.

1. Combining niche wireless applications into more general systems to improve spectrum efficiency. Today’s internet carries a wide variety of information flows while wireless systems are more narrow, leading to parallel “silo”-like allocations. Can we integrate wireless microphones, weather balloons, and other applications intermittent in time and space into broader systems.

2.Rethinking design of RF illumination of suburbia. (neé cellular base station design) in order to provide 10-20 wireless services from towers spaced on about 0.5-1.0 mile grid and keeping visual design compatible to suburbia. In reality, local opposition to cell tower construction is a major factor that slows wireless availability. Should include the impact of pfd regulation vice present eirp regulation as the higher frequencies now used for mobile services permit CSC2 antenna designs on. Excessive fs near present base stations limits spectrum efficiency with realistic receivers.

3. Radar systems occupy a large amount of spectrum and sharing with incumbent systems is very difficult. Simultaneous design of radar systems and communications systems so that they can share the same spectrum based on highly directional nature of radar emissions. Enable intermittent packetized communications access to radar spectrum and determine what backlobe requirements would be needed for radar to share on a win-win basis.

4. Filters and spectrum efficiency: Filters, in both transmitters and receivers, have a major impact on spectrum efficiency, yet are rarely discussed. There is no “Moore's law” like formulation of how filters for transmitters and receivers have improved over the decades. Yet they have. We need both a Formulate a figure of merit for filters (Q is a good start, but too simple) and a clear theory on how filter improvement translates into spectrum efficiency.

5. Cognitive radio concepts to select freq to protect receivers with limited dynamic range and adjacent channel rejection. This will significantly reduce receiver cost and allow greater spectrum use in real world.

6. Propagation and cognitive radio: Classic propagation models focus on single paths, yet sensing-based cognitive radios have multiple correlated. Better understanding of loss uncertainty and these correlations will allow us to predict CR performance better without expensive field tests for each system. Determine how existing propagation models need to be expanded for CR performance prediction and specify a measurement program to develop needed data.

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