Interference-free radio

Cambridge Consultants has developed InCognito, a novel ‘spectral sensing’ cognitive radio technology that will allow any radio product to transmit without interference over the so-called ‘whitespace’ frequencies recently vacated by the US digital TV switchover.

These desirable TV band frequencies easily penetrate walls, potentially extending the range of Home Area Networks (HANs) and enabling a range of novel new applications, such as high-definition video streaming from a single access point to every room in a house.

Innovative use of ‘whitespace’ radio will also make it possible to increase the accessibility of wireless internet services, including those rural communities that are currently poorly served.
The new frequencies, recently authorised in the US by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), increase the overall wireless bandwidth available to computers, set-top boxes, laptops, Wi-Fi hot spots and other radio devices that currently use the unlicensed band around 2.4GHz.

They also have the potential to greatly extend the range of these devices.
Luke D’Arcy, of Cambridge Consultants, said: ‘We’ve seen so much game-changing innovation in the unlicensed 2.4GHz band, but I believe the FCC’s decision to open up the ‘whitespace’ radio frequencies for innovation promises even more.

‘We will quickly see a wave of innovation in wireless products and services around 700MHz, bringing benefits both to consumers and to the innovative businesses that move quickly into the whitespace market.’
But the decision is not without controversy: the primary incumbent users of these TV band frequencies are concerned about the potential for interference caused by the influx of new users.

Addressing these concerns, D’Arcy said that the InCognito platform enables ‘whitespace’ radios to quickly and accurately detect and avoid other broadcasts.
An alliance of which Cambridge Consultants is a member – the CogNeA Alliance – aims to drive the definition and adoption of industry-wide standards for wireless devices to operate over the new TV white spaces.