I think one of the big stories in the coming years is going to be software-defined radios. Fast Company blogs what Vanu Bose had to say at Supernova:
Today’s wireless devices are hardware based. If you have a CDMA cell phone, it can’t be a GSM cell phone. The hardware determines the device. Software radio solves that problem. We want to move so devices become generic transmission and reception devices. The software can determine what the signal becomes. Currently, our business is focused on the military because of the wide range of non-interoperable radios. The challenge getting to a cell phone-like device is limited by battery life — it does take more energy to do this — and is probably five years away.
Technology development moves very quickly. Let’s look at wireless. That’s developed at the rate of one new standard every decade. That’s not because it’s evolving slowly. It’s because they don’t make it out to widespread deployment. That’s not technical. It’s financial. For one recent AT&T build out, they had to add entirely new base stations. With that kind of investment, it can take 7-10 years to make good on that investment. That’s why we’re trying to make our innovation a software change.
There’s also an interesting comment by Tren Griffin on rural connectivity: “Spectrum is like invisible money. It’s just lying on the ground. In these rural countries, if you have some money and you have some spectrum, you can create a network. In rural Montana, there’s a lot of spectrum, but there are no devices that can use it. We want two-way connectivity anywhere in the world. We need base stations that cost less than $10,000. We need chips that cost less than $5. We need cheap spectrum that will go through mud, adobe, and brick walls.”