Perché introdurre questo tipo di tecnologia in un assetto in apparenza così ben regolato? Secondo l'ETSI sarà una scelta inevitabile. Nel 2017 si prevede che saranno in funzione qualcosa come settemila miliardi di dispositivi radiomobili per sette miliardi di utilizzatori, a quel punto la gestione "ex ante" dello spettro sarà problematica e si ritiene necessario mettere nelle reti e nei terminali abbastanza intelligenza da renderli capaci di "arrangiarsi da soli". Il driver iniziale di questo processo definitorio sarà la necessità di assicurare reti e sistemi efficienti per le applicazioni di sicurezza e pronto intervento, ma c'è da chiedersi se in futuro non sarà possibile autoregolamentare anche le architetture di rete broadcast, magari su scala limitata. Probabilmente per questo tipo di applicazioni l'unico approccio possibile è una pre-regolamentazione, ma non è detto che la radio cognitiva non possa essere introdotta come sottosistema di controllo.
ETSI's standardization of Reconfigurable Radio Systems gets underwayETSI Headquarters, Sophia Antipolis, France – 2 November 2009
Following the completion of a phase of feasibility studies, standardization of Reconfigurable Radio Systems (RRS) is now getting underway. RRS are seen by many as the most effective response to the ever-growing demand for a great diversity of wireless communications, as well as facilitating more flexible use of the radio frequency spectrum.
The initial phase of the work, carried out by ETSI's RRS Technical Committee, has resulted in a series of ETSI Technical Reports that examine the standardization needs and opportunities. They include architectural and implementation aspects of RRS, as well as specific user requirements in the context of public safety communications. The principal Technical Report in this series (TR 102 838) summarizes the feasibility studies carried out by the committee and presents its recommended topics for standardization. This report can be downloaded free of charge at:
Reconfigurable Radio Systems are based on technologies such as Software Defined Radio (SDR) and Cognitive Radio whose systems exploit the capabilities of reconfigurable radio and networks for self-adaptation to a dynamically-changing environment with the aim of ensuring end-to-end connectivity.
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 today, but 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 frequencies amongst multiple services and radio networks are needed – and RRS technologies offer the solution.
Faced with increasing global data traffic volumes, regulators have started to consider allowing wireless data devices to operate as secondary users on spectrum bands which traditionally have been dedicated solely to their primary users. Network operators are building composite wireless networks to provide access to multiple services. Typical user devices may contain several radios and it is becoming increasingly vital to co-ordinate the operation of these different radios and systems to minimize cost and make efficient energy use of the overall radio communications capacity. Creating effective, standardized RRS solutions is an essential foundational task in this fast-moving revolution.
As part of its work, the ETSI committee is addressing the critical area of public safety communications. Currently, public safety communications are characterized by patchworks of separate, often incompatible systems with widely varying capabilities. The application of dynamic spectrum management, cognitive radio and SDR can provide solutions for the required interoperability of such systems, which often operate in uncertain and changing operational scenarios, and maximize the use of the very limited radio spectrum usually assigned to these services. Apart from bringing improved operational capabilities, these techniques also offer increased system flexibility and the ability to adapt to evolving technologies.
ETSI’s Director-General, Walter Weigel, said: “A real opportunity now exists for the development of globally-applicable standards for Reconfigurable Radio Systems in a highly-flexible and innovative environment and ETSI is perfectly placed to assist in its enablement.”
Peter Olanders, Chairman of ETSI's RRS Technical Committee, stressed the urgency of interested parties getting involved in RRS standardization: "Now that the initial definition phase has been completed, I expect the real standardization work to move forward with considerable speed. I therefore consider it vital that all companies, network operators and public safety organizations interested in RRS participate in this critical next phase. If they fail to do so, they risk losing any influence over decisions that we expect will determine the future of RRS worldwide."
The next meeting of the ETSI RRS Technical Committee will take place in Mainz, Germany, from 15 to 17 December this year. Participation is open to all ETSI members in accordance with the Institute's rules: membership of ETSI is open to all companies and organizations wishing to participate in its work.