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Telecom agencies in India and Canada are working together on a cognitive radio-based broadband wireless technology: The networks would operate in the 5 GHz spectrum (or possibly the licensed MMDS bands) and transmit as far as 1 kilometer to 2 kilometers. The base station would use as many as 48 antenna beams. The system would use cognitive radio technology to identify interference and poor links and then change its own signal transmission to improve the weak links. Ultimately the agencies hope to develop this as a low-costs system that can be used in underdeveloped regions or areas with aging telecom infrastructure.
It’s interesting to see that an Indian government body is involved in such research which appears to be primarily targeted at unlicensed bands, given that India only very recently de-licensed the 2.4 GHz band for Wi-Fi. The 5.1 GHz band is still only available for unlicensed use indoors.
There was a time when a few startup companies were trying to sell broadband wireless systems that used a handful of narrow antennas that could adapt to the environment to deliver the best signal. None of them used as many as 48 beams and they wouldn’t have been as sophisticated as cognitive radio. The only name I remember is BeamReach Networks, though I’m not totally convinced they’re still in business—the most recent press release listed is from early 2004. There were others too but I can’t recall their names.