ITR: Collaborative Research: Achieving Innovative and Reliable Services in Unlicensed Spectrum

Project Details



The establishment of unlicensed communication bands has successfully encouraged innovation, most recently in wireless devices and infrastructure that use unlicensed spectrum to provide connections to the Internet. A key aspect of Internet usage is an almost unlimited capacity for growth. For unlicensed wireless, the transition from 11 Mb/s 802.11b to 54 Mb/s 802.11a marks the start of an industry race toward ever-higher data rates. The combination of increasing data rates and a proliferation of devices could easily lead to inefficiency in the use of unlicensed spectrum due to a combination of overuse and failure to develop mechanisms for efficient sharing of this resource. While the overload of any finite band may be inevitable, this project is addressing the increase in capacity of the available unlicensed bands as much as possible, and is developing approaches that can predict overloads and prevent sudden, unexpected failure modes.

This multi-disciplinary project seeks efficient use of unlicensed spectrum by combining an engineering and technology perspective with insights from the literatures on regulation, property rights, and economic coordination. The team includes researchers with expertise in property rights, networking fairness, and wireless communications and network engineering. This team is developing a general framework for understanding cooperation in unlicensed band wireless networks by studying the following issues:

Property rights as applied to spectrum management

Protocols for collaboration between technology neutral wireless devices

Pricing mechanisms for efficient and fair sharing of congested unlicensed spectrum

Radio-level interference avoidance techniques

The above problems are being studied with a combination of formal and conceptual analysis, simulation and experimental methods, including a dynamic spectrum management testbed which implements potential collaboration protocols and cooperation models. The thrust is to preserve the 'creative chaos' of the unlicensed bands while creating a degree of long term stability and predictability that is appropriate to the size of the investments being made and the strategic importance of these uses to the nation. Results from the project are of value to both policy makers and emerging unlicensed band wireless Internet providers as well as wireless technologists.

Effective start/end date9/1/028/31/05


  • National Science Foundation: $832,553.00


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