Feature Article

February 19, 2014

Shared Spectrum Company Dynamically Bringing Technology to Market

It is hard to think of a government entity that has impacted our modern lives more than DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In fact, the Internet alone is a big enough reason to view DARPA as a success. Getting a technology adopted and made commercially viable takes time, keeping in mind that the Internet existed for over 20 years before it became commercially available and begat so many new industries.

I recently had a chance to speak with Shared Spectrum CEO Tom Stroup, who told me that the enablement of Spectrum sharing is one area in which DARPA has spent money, with Shared Spectrum the outgrowth of that work.  Strategically speaking, taking technology into a company to make commercial products typically indicates that markets either exist or soon will exist. Often, however, the technology has immediate implications that can make for tactical product development. 

Normally, the most successful companies are those whose boards help navigate the imperative with the important, and Tom Stroup told me that Shared Spectrum added two new board members this week: Mike A. Daniels formerly of SAIC, Network Solutions, Wireless365, and NVTC; and William J. Merritt president and CEO of Interdigital.  Both of these individuals bring strong relationships with the long-term and short-term markets targeted by Shared Spectrum.

The technology that Shared Spectrum has pioneered is Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) technology. From the Shared Spectrum website:

“DSA technology enables radio devices to dramatically improve spectrum utilization, communications reliability and network deployment time. SSC’s technology employs a policy-based sensing approach to DSA. Devices using this solution continually assess the radio spectrum environment, and automatically and swiftly adjust frequencies in response to changing RF conditions. Policies that control the operation of devices are maintained in a database and pushed out to DSA-enabled devices, ensuring that they operate in accordance with regulatory, service provider and other stakeholder requirements. DSA makes wireless networks frequency agile – empowering devices at the edge with the ability to efficiently and effectively access available spectrum…. DSA improves spectrum utilization in three dimensions: frequency, location and time. It enables a network to opportunistically use a wide range of frequencies at points in time and space when and where they are authorized and available.”

One logical place where this technology can be put to work tactically?  Enterprise Femtocells. Typically, when discussion turns to residential Femtocells (a small, low-power cellular base station, typically designed for use in a home or small business), my eyes glaze over (and having had two of them in my home for some time, this glaze takes hold faster now than before). Solving the issues of interference at the Enterprise level, though, is not only logical to me, but is a place where I believe real work has been allocated.  Also, as a policy engine DSA can be used to deal with offload, between LTE, Wi-Fi, 3.5 and TVWS. 

Now the databases of TVWS, from the likes of iConectiv and others, are very good. There are, however, wireless microphones that actually cause a lot of interference, so perhaps DSA will be deployed specifically for that purpose (and given that wireless microphones are often used in businesses, a logical opportunity exists there as well).

The result is that in the near-term the Shared Spectrum board will be reaching out to:

  • RF equipment vendors (to build more spectrally efficient radios);
  • Wireless service providers (to better utilize their spectrum assets and access additional resources on an as-needed basis);
  • New market entrants (to gain access to spectrum that was previously inaccessible or too costly);
  • Regulators (to ensure that spectrum licensees are protected when cognitive radio technologies are deployed in the same or adjacent bands).

Strategically, as “5G” moves closer to reality and we continue to slice-and-dice spectrum into ever-smaller access points while also creating bigger and broader aggregation points, Shared Spectrum will have to address a growing opportunity.  As Jim Dolan of Interdigital Labs pointed out in his blog http://bit.ly/1mmHijF, we face a lot of issues in rolling out more wireless solutions. Personally, though, I believe that from a strategic standpoint Shared Spectrum Company could not be better placed.

 


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