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FCC Moves Ahead On Software-Defined Radio

Software-defined radio (SDR,aka Cognitive Radio) is one of a handful of young technologies that promises to re-define the way we use radios, and the nation’s airwaves. In short, an SDR is not programmed in hardware to operate in a specific way (say CDMA); it is programmed in software. Since software is easily upgraded, launched, and run, an SDR could run CDMA one moment, GSM the next (or FM, AM, Spread Spectrum, frequency hopping, etc.) SDR can also sense which frequencies are underutilized, and shift to use those, or can intelligently increase power in rural areas. Today, the FCC decided to allow experimentation with SDRs to determine if this type of radio can make better use of our spectrum. If SDR makes the grade in controlled experiments, it will pave the way for widespread changes in FCC rules for managing spectrum. More importantly, people will get more, better communication dividends from the US airwaves.

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