Reconfigurable Radio

Reconfigurable Radio Systems (RRS) is a generic concept based on technologies such as Software Reconfiguration through Radio Applications 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. There are around 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. In this regard, there is particular interest worldwide for the so called "cognitive radio technologies".

Cognitive Radio (CR) can be defined as a radio with learning capabilities, i.e. a radio able to obtain knowledge of the radio operational environment and adjust its operational parameters and protocols accordingly. Such an approach has a significant number 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 the 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. Another direction relates to the development of Radio Environment Maps technologies, enabling the collection of cognitive radio context information to be exploited for decision making.

White Space (WS) is part of the spectrum which is available for a radio communication application at a given time in a given geographical area on a non-interfering/non protected basis with regard to primary services and other services with a higher priority on a national basis. Coordinated as well as un-coordinated system approaches were developed by ETSI RRS.

Licensed Shared Access (LSA) is defined by the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) as “An individual licensed regime of a limited number of licensees in a frequency band, already allocated to one or more incumbent users, for which the additional users are allowed to use the spectrum (or part of the spectrum) in accordance with sharing rules included in the rights of use of spectrum granted to the licensees, thereby allowing all the licensees to provide a certain level of QoS”. This new concept can also take advantage of cognitive technologies allowing sharing spectrum in a more dynamic way and it is currently being finalized in 2,300 - 2,400 MHz frequency band.

Software Reconfiguration through Radio Applications is a straightforward extension of the widely applied Applications (“Apps”) for Smartphones. Radio Applications are enabling Software Developers to access low-level parameters of a wireless equipment, such as a Mobile Device, within a controlled execution environment, a so-called Radio Virtual Machine (RVM). ETSI RRS develops standards on the required low-level interfaces as well as solutions for related novel approaches such that a continued compliance with applicable regulations is given.

pdfDownload the Radio Reconfigurable Systems technology leaflet

The work of standardizing Reconfiguration through Radio Applications and Cognitive Radio is done in TC RRS (Reconfigurable Radio System). TC RRS's main responsibility is to carry out standardization activities related to Reconfigurable Radio Systems encompassing both Reconfiguration through Radio Applications 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 reconfigurable radio systems. TC RRS work includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Cognitive Radio Systems
  • (TV) White Spaces
  • Licensed Shared Access
  • Reconfigurable Mobile Devices
  • Certification aspects for Dynamic Equipment Reconfiguration
  • Reconfigurable Radio Systems for Civil Security
  • Security aspects for Reconfigurable Radio Systems

A full list of related standards in the public domain is accessible via the ETSI standards search. Via this interface you can also subscribe for alerts on updates of ETSI standards.