Pre-Standardization of Cognitive Radio Systems

Pre-Standardization of Cognitive Radio Systems

Vladislav V. Fomin (Turiba School of Business Administration, Latvia), Arturas Medeisis (Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania) and Daiva Vitkute-Adžgauskiene (Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/jitsr.2012010101
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Cognitive Radio technology is commonly seen as a promise to form the basis of the next largest breakthrough in the development of ubiquitous wireless broadband services. However, the disruptive nature and complexity of this technology raises a host of associated issues, including the open question on reasons for the slow progression of the innovation. This paper reviews different streams of literature on technology evolution to suggest that CR development can be best conceptualized as anticipatory (pre-)standardizing process at an early phase. At the backdrop of the absent obvious leader in CR development, the authors conduct a co-evolutionary analysis of the CR innovation context to reveal a stakeholders’ domain, which is best positioned to lead the further CR development. Finally, the authors conclude that the regulatory domain oversees some of the most crucial enabling factors that may decide the future of CR technology.
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1. Introduction

The concept of Software Defined Radio (SDR) – a radio system in which RF emissions and operational parameters could be defined and re-configured by software – has been discussed since mid 80-ties with the first commercial products arriving to the market in the early 90-ties (Kloch et al., 2009). In 1999 Mitola and Maguire (1999) introduced the concept of Cognitive Radio (CR) – an “application” built on top of the enabling SDR technological base to enable “intelligent” on-the-fly self-reconfiguration of the radio system to adapt to the instantaneous state and change pattern of the spectrum-space environment.

As a technology innovation, CR holds a promise to overcome the limitations of the existing international governance system for radio spectrum allocation, under which the “scarce resource” of radio communications systems – the radio spectrum – is rigidly divided into chunks (bands), and the bands are strictly associated with specific applications. The “intelligent” feature of CR would allow dissociating specific bands from specific technologies/applications, thus boosting efficiency of spectrum use.

More than a decade down the road, the SDR-based radio systems had been largely restricted to the narrow niches of heavy duty high-end infrastructure devices such as tactically agile military equipment and complex (multi-standard) base stations of cellular telephony systems that may be then more easily adapted to evolving radio interface specifications by simple software upgrades. Meanwhile, the true CR still remain the subject of the R&D efforts and no commercially oriented prototypes have been demonstrated to proof the feasibility of broader application.

The pattern of CR development does not fit easily into popular theoretical frameworks on technology innovation – the niche technology so far hasn’t found its way to the broader market. Seeking a deeper understanding of the current state of CR development, in this work we suggest that CR development phenomena should be regarded as a pre-standardization process. However, it is unclear where the impetus for the process advancement should come from. To find out which domain or stakeholder is better positioned to take the lead in formulating the vision, requirements and coordinating standardization work, we conduct a co-evolutionary analysis of the heterogeneous context in which the CR develops. We conclude that the policy domain in general, and bottom-up “neutral” initiatives in particular can bring the sought-for breakthrough to the stalling innovation.

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