News | August 1, 2007

SDR May Play Key Role In Emerging Broadband Wireless Access Market

Denver -- With users wanting seamless access to emerging triple-play services – voice, data/web and video – in all their wireline and wireless subscriptions, broadband appears to be the next big growth market in telecommunications. And software defined radio (SDR) stands poised to play a major role, according to a new study commissioned by the SDR Forum, a nonprofit international industry association for reconfigurable wireless technology.

Prepared by noted technology consultant Jim Gunn, a specialist in digital wireless and multimedia communications, the 52-page study – titled "Wi-Fi, WiMAX, and Beyond 3G/4G" and subtitled "Broadband Wireless Access (BWA)" – provides a comprehensive look at BWA market opportunities for the SDR community and the challenges it faces.

One such opportunity, the study says, is multiradio – a hot industry trend in cellular and BWA – whereby multiple radio standards (or waveforms) are included on a single mobile, portable or infrastructure platform. For example, a GSM cellular, a Wi-Fi and a GPS waveform could operate in parallel to provide wide-area, local-area and location services. As a result, SDR would need to address not only waveform selection – its traditional focus – but also simultaneous operations.

"Sharing of platform resources will be essential," the report says. "It is very reasonable to envision this trend to facilitate many synergistic opportunities for public safety, military, telematics, and other applications."

The study goes on to cite commercial industry sources indicating that future cell phones might comprise as many as 11 radios: "These multiple radios will have multiple antennas, power amplifiers, low-noise amplifiers, data acquisition devices, baseband circuits, and so forth, which will offer challenges for integration into a single, battery-powered portable device. Many of the radios will often be simultaneously operating on different frequencies and bands."

In addition, the study points to recent advances in semiconductor, radio frequency, and data acquisition technologies that provide imminent market opportunities for SDR to extend programmability for more transceiver algorithms and more extensively achieve the long-verified software benefits:

  • lower development costs;
  • faster time-to-market;
  • enhanced mass-customization flexibility in development, deployment and fielded products;
  • better reuse of intellectual property;
  • support for multiband and multimode RF operations; and
  • waveform, protocol and application selection and update.

The SDR opportunities would be focused on reuse, portability, minimizing co-channel interference, optimizing RF links, beam-forming, multi-user detection, antenna sharing, and power reduction.

The study concludes that virtually all stakeholders in the industry have indicated intentions for multiradio deployments that address Wi-Fi, WiMAX and beyond 3G waveforms on common platforms and for using SDR-centric concepts and technologies to achieve the SDR platform benefits.