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There are some interesting discussions going on across the blogosphere surrounding software defined radio and regulations: Sascha Meinrath has a couple of warnings. The first is that if a few of the most promising open projects don’t get some sustainable funding, the big companies will corner the market with proprietary solutions. Her second warning is that if regulators around the world don’t recognize the potential of SDR and accommodate for it, people will do it anyway and regulators won’t be able to stop them. The result is what she calls “pirate radio on steroids,” where load of people will be using SDR products that will become available to make at very low costs and that will be basically impossible for regulators to track down and stop. The solution to this problem, she argues, is for regulators to make available enough unlicensed spectrum that SDR fans won’t need to encroach on licensed bands.
Sascha’s piece is interesting next to a piece written by Guy Kewney. He also argues that if regulators don’t deal with software defined radios, people will use them anyway and there won’t be anything the regulators can do to control them. He’s confused a couple of issues here and possibly gotten some facts wrong, but basically he also suggests that Intel is working hard on building software defined radios into chips as a way to accommodate for the different spectrum bands likely to be used for WiMax around the globe. Where Kewney seems to get confused is where he writes about Intel’s efforts to make 2.5 GHz a worldwide standard. If there were a clean worldwide band, software defined radios would be unnecessary. It’s more likely that Intel would be working with regulators to make sure they’ll allow software defined radios so that Intel could easily accommodate for the different spectrum availabilities around the globe.
Software defined radio has huge potential but I fear that Sascha’s first warning may come true. Already, engineers have been talking about and working on software defined radio for many years, and it’s only just begun to get a mention by regulators. The longer regulators take to open up to the idea, the greater the possibility that some huge company will corner the market, slowing down or stopping the great innovative potential of the concept.
Posted by nancyg at August 24, 2005 9:39 AM
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