Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

You Can Hear Me Now: Software Brings Cellular Capacity To Rural Communities

07.10.2003


Communications tower in DeLeon, Texas. The base station at the foot of the tower is the host for the Vanu Software Radio testbed.
Credit: Vanu, Inc. and Mid-Tex Cellular; National Science Foundation


The large, brown pieces of equipment are Mid-Tex Cellular’s current cellular communications hardware at the communications tower in DeLeon, Texas. The small, white devices on the sides are the replacement pieces including the Hewlett-Packard ProLiant server running Vanu Software Radio’s computer programs.
Credit: Vanu, Inc. and Mid-Tex Cellular; National Science Foundation


Researchers have successfully tested a system that can replace a cellular tower’s room full of communications hardware with a single desk-top style computer, making the technology affordable for small, rural communities.

The software is also capable of running emergency communications-such as police, fire and ambulance channels-on the same device as the civilian system, eliminating the need for a separate network of emergency communications towers.

"Rural customers are the first application of the technology, but large carriers are watching to see what happens," said John Chapin, chief technology officer at Vanu, Inc., the Cambridge, Mass. Company that tested and markets the software, which it calls Vanu Software Radio(tm).



Vanu scientists developed and tested the software with funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

"There is an economic driver to the small business projects, and both NSF and awardees have to be flexible," said Sarah Nerlove, the NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program officer who oversees Vanu’s awards. "When the telecom industry crashed, Vanu technology caused wireless operators to look at deployments differently. Vanu was an ideal fit for their changing needs," she added.

NSF awards SBIR grants to small businesses for risky, novel research with a potential for commercialization. Through SBIR and the related Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, NSF encourages partnerships between the small business and the academic sectors to develop a technology base for commercialization.

Cellular towers now dot the landscapes of cities and suburbs, providing millions of Americans with access to wireless communications. Currently, at the base of each tower is an air conditioned shelter filled with expensive equipment called a basestation.

"As technology advances, all of that equipment continually needs to be overhauled or replaced," said John Chapin, chief technology officer at Vanu. In addition to replacing much of the equipment with a single computer server, radio software can aggregate the equipment from many stations into a single location into what communications engineers call a "basestation hotel," he said.

Vanu Software Radio(tm) is first of its kind to perform all functions of a GSM (a digital cellular standard) base station using only software and a non-specialized computer server. The servers run the Linux operating system on Pentium processors, further simplifying the technology and reducing cost.

The company successfully demonstrated the technology in two rural Texas communities: De Leon in Comanche County and Gorman in Eastland County. When the test ends, the technology will remain as a cellular infrastructure run by Mid-Tex Cellular, Ltd.

"The overall system is much cheaper and therefore offers opportunities to underserved rural areas," said Vanu basestation engineer Jeff Steinheider who led the technology installation in Texas.

Although the software currently runs on larger servers using a Linux operating system, the software also runs on a variety of commercial computers, so cellular service providers can run the product on economical systems. And, according to Chapin, the software’s portable design easily adapts to hardware upgrades. Even a personal computer could run Vanu waveform software, he said, although it could not handle a large number of customers.

The software has been successfully carrying phone calls since it was installed in the Texas towns in June 2003. The researchers have been tracking how many calls successfully go through, how well mobile phones communicate with other mobile phones and how well mobile phones communicate with landline phones.

So far, the results have been positive and by early 2004, the system is expected to become fully operational for Mid-Tex cellular customers.

Potentially, large carriers could also use the software to establish base station hotels or upgrade and condense their existing equipment. Beyond that, the technology will allow cellular providers to more efficiently use the frequency spectrum reserved for communication and are more flexible if they need to be upgraded to handle even more bandwidth, said Chapin.

Josh Chamot | NSF
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht New Technologies for A/V Analysis and Search
13.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

nachricht On patrol in social networks
25.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>