Reconfigurable Radio Systems (RRS) is a generic concept based on technologies such as Software Defined Radio (SDR) and Cognitive Radio (CR) whose systems exploit the capabilities of reconfigurable radio and networks for self-adaptation to a dynamically-changing environment with the aim of improving supply chain, equipment and spectrum utilization.
Global interest in RRS solutions is being fuelled by the rapidly-growing demand for wireless communications for a wide range of purposes. For example, today there are already more than 4 billion mobile phone users and estimates such as those of the Wireless World Research Forum suggest that by 2017 there will be 7 trillion wireless devices serving 7 billion users. To meet these expectations with the limited radio spectrum, more flexible ways to share radio networks and frequencies amongst multiple services and radio networks are needed – and RRS technologies offer the solution. At this regard there is particular interest worldwide for the so called "cognitive radio technologies".
Cognitive Radio is quite a new concept and could be said in short as a radio with learning capabilities, i.e. a radio able to obtain the knowledge of radio operational environment and adjust its operational parameters and protocols accordingly. It is clear that such an approach has got undoubtedly a lot of benefits in terms of spectrum efficiency and this is much more important when the spectrum is scarce, as it is the case nowadays. Thus, there is great interest in Cognitive Radio technologies at European level as well as worldwide. One case study on cognitive technologies is in the use of so-called ‘white spaces' in the UHF band. White Space is unused spectrum at a given time and location, on a non-interfering/non protected basis with regard to primary services The application of cognitive technologies in White Spaces in the UHF broadcast band (470-790 MHz) is currently under study in Europe. Also other frequency bands which are "under-allocated" are of interest.
Public safety has a very limited frequency allocation: the only harmonized public safety band in Europe (380-385 MHz/390-395 MHz) is heavily congested. The application of cognitive technologies to address White Space could definitely help mitigate the problem.
SDR is not a new concept, especially not in the military domain, but recently it is arousing more interest as it is seen as a complementary technology to Cognitive Radio. Although CR must not be necessarily based on SDR, it is clear that SDR can be considered as one possible enabler of Cognitive Radio Technology and so the two technologies are definitely complementary from this perspective. Needless to say that both CR and SDR might have some regulatory aspects to consider and this is currently under investigation in different fora.
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The work of standardizing Software Defined Radio and Cognitive Radio is done in TC RRS (Reconfigurable Radio System). TC RRS main responsibility is to carry out standardization activities related to Reconfigurable Radio Systems encompassing both Software Defined Radio (SDR) and Cognitive Radio (CR). In doing so, TC RRS will take into account all the related requirements from relevant stakeholders, as well as the work done in other fora on the same subject so as to avoid overlapping activities which could delay, if not hamper, the overall standardisation process in Software Defined Radio and Cognitive Radio. TC RRS is currently structured into four Working Groups (WGs) but further working groups might be established in the future.
TC RRS and Public Safety
Public Safety communications suffer from two different issues:
- Heterogeneous systems not compatible with each other
While TErrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) is widely used in Europe among Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) user organisations, there is still a plethora of heterogeneous wireless communications systems used by Public Safety organisations not compatible with each other: Analog PMR, APCO-25, TETRAPOL, TETRA are just some examples. In addition to this, commercial technologies such as GSM/GPRS/UMTS, WiFi and WiMax are used by Public Safety Organisations as well and such diversities do cause interoperability issues during the resolution of an emergency crisis.
- Spectrum scarcity
While spectrum congestion is a general issue, Public Safety applications suffer from spectrum scarcity indeed which hamper the development of high bit rate applications which could be of great help during an emergency crisis. Just as an example, TETRA, which is used in many European countries, has got in Europe only 10MHz of "harmonized band" which hamper the development of a "wideband TETRA" indeed.
Given the two issues above described it is clear that SDR and CR can be of great help: while Software Defined Radio can mitigate the interoperability issue, dynamic spectrum management and Cognitive Radio technologies can also improve the situation in terms of spectrum efficiency which could partially lighten the spectrum issues.
TC RRS WG4 faces these two issues by studying the application of Software Defined Radio and Cognitive Radio technologies to Public Safety domain
The following is a list of recently published deliverables of ETSI TC RRS:
|Standard No.||Standard Title|
|TR 102 838||Summary of feasibility studies and potential standardization topics|
|TR 102 680||SDR Reference Architecture for Mobile Device|
|TR 102 681||Radio Base Station (RBS) Software Defined Radio (SDR) status, implementations and costs aspects, including future possibilities|
|TR 102 682||Functional Architecture (FA) for the Management and Control of Reconfigurable Radio Systems|
|TR 102 683||Cognitive Pilot Channel (CPC)|
|TR 102 745||User Requirements for Public Safety|