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Voyant on Track for White Space Radio Development

Cognitive radio has several potential applications, one company says

Voyant said Congress’ decision to delay the DTV transition won’t affect its plans to develop white space radios; the frequency-agile devices would operate in the unused spectrum between populated TV channels. Voyant received a $2 million contract from an unnamed client last May to build the devices.

The idea is the radio would sense where the unused spectrum is and quickly adjust the radio to use that bit of spectrum, in a matter of milliseconds, Voyant Chief Marketing Officer Steffen Koehler told me.

Voyant makes such radios now that are used in a licensed spectrum band; the radio is being used by water utilities to control how much water needs to be sent through pipes and gates.

Controlling industrial networks, like the water utility example, would be typical of how the white space two-way radios would be used, he said. In a more traditional Internet access application, Voyant could sell a radio to a wireless Internet service provider (WISP), for example, which would have a cognitive radio on the tower that communicates with another unit at a user’s home. The first uses for such applications might be to service broadband access to rural and other underserved regions.

If used in the car, a 3G network radio could be “upgraded” to a white spaces radio, offering a more robust signal, he predicted.

Right now the form factor is a small box and in a couple of years it could be a chip, Koehler said.

Companies like Google, HP, Dell, Microsoft, Motorola and Philips have said they’d be interested in developing white spaces radios or applications, he said. Since the FCC issued rules on white space use, which we covered, the next step would be for the agency to establish a testing program for all the radios and eventually standards groups will set standards for the new radios, said Koehler.