The Feature has an interview with Ramesh Rao, a director of the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology. Excerpts:
No system is designed around the assumption that there will be others in the neighborhood. That’s little bit of a geeky answer, but I truly believe it’s one of the most important problems. The wireless world has largely been built around specific technologies that have industry consortiums and standards bodies behind them. So largely, every developer or provider takes the point of view that the world may have a choice, but in the end their system will be the one that’s adopted. So we ask, what are the architectures, capabilities and services that can emerge if you set out to exploit the fact that you will have multiple systems surround you?
The interference between your microwave oven and Bluetooth is a simple example. There are assumptions that each system might be making about what else is going on in the spectrum and those assumptions might be wrong. The ones who will often discover these possible adverse interactions are the end users who may not be technically savvy. Tivo2s are supposed to wirelessly network in your homes. That’s a fantastic promise, so you buy it. Then maybe it doesn’t work at your house because three of your neighbors have wireless networks on the same channel. So you get disappointed and you walk away from the technology.
On the positive side, there are lost opportunities if you don’t acknowledge the existence of other systems. So rather than compete, we look at how the systems can collaborate. Today, your cordless phone and wireless LAN in your home can interfere. If the two could talk to each other, the LAN could suspend your data downloads when you’re on the cordless phone. This would prevent the devices from thrashing around as they try to figure out what the hells’ going on in the wireless spectrum.