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Vanu receives FCC's First Authorization for Software-Defined Radio (SDR)

A cellular base station transmitter from Vanu, Inc. became the first software-defined radio (SDR) to receive a Grant of Certification from the FCC. According to the news release FCC approves first software defined radio the commission said Vanu had shown its SDR "has sufficient controls so that the device cannot be modified to operate outside its Commission-approved parameters." SDRs use software to define their frequency range, modulation type and output power rather than hardware, allowing them to be modified to meet changing modulation standards and protocols without changing hardware.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell called the approval "the first step in what may prove to be a radio technology revolution. The industry's pioneering work to find more creative and efficient use of our airwaves will continue to bring benefits to consumers."

In a press release announcing the certification, Vanu said the system "consists entirely of software applications that support all of the GSM cellular base station functionality running on off-the-shelf Hewlett-Packard ProLiant servers with an ADC Digivance RF subsystem." Vanu, Inc and Mid-Tex Cellular have been working together to evaluate a GSM network using the technology. A trial deployment began in June 2003 to determine if the system was viable. It showed the technology was ready for commercial deployment and could achieve significant cost savings for Mid-Tex Cellular. Installation of the Vanu Software Radio-based network is currently underway and is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Vanu listed some of the advantages its SDR has over traditional base station deployments:
·The system can support multiple radio standards, protocols and frequencies on a single, industry standard server.
·The system allows modification of the RF planning and assignment of standards through remote software parameter changes
·The system supports upgrades to new standards through a software-only download.

See the Vanu technology web page for information on their system. The whitepapers page includes links to papers on software defined radio, including An Introduction to Software Radio and an interview with Vanu Bose discussing the concept of software radio. In the "waveforms" section, Vanu says it has implemented waveforms for NTSC and digital (HDTV) television reception, but did not list anything for DTV transmission.