Feeds

Microsoft shows how to crowd-source spectrum management

You do have a spare analyser, don't you?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Researchers from Microsoft have proposed a new way to monitor spectrum usage, by connecting up idle analysers and providing an API allowing anyone to make use of them.

The concept of SpecNet, as the researchers term their creation, is to link up spectrum analysers around the world and allow them to be accessed through a standard API so that a company, government, or individual, could run a query to see who is using what and where.

But the complexity is in putting that all together; creating software to manage programmed queries and keeping it simple enough for general use, while maximising the application of spectrum analysers, which are expensive bits of kit rarely used to their full potential.

SpecNet addresses the technical problems by creating APIs of different complexity dependent on the class of user – so the high-level API could be used to establish the occupancy of a band within a specific geographic area, while a different API is used to monitor for transmissions of a specific shape or power. SpecNet takes care of distributing the task to the right analysers and gathering historical data, while dealing with the fact that analysers will disappear for extended time periods while the owner is using them.

The researchers present answers to these problems (in PDF/557 KB form – really interesting but quite specialised), as well as addressing the balance between granularity, fidelity and time that spectrum-scanning demands (the more carefully you look, the more you'll see). What they don't address is the political side of the problem.

A worldwide network of spectrum analysers is a nice idea, but as the researchers admit, it's not easy to convince labs and research establishments to connect up their $10,000 bits of kit to the internet for everyone else to use. Even if that can be addressed, there's the problem that many analysers spend their lives in basements or Faraday cages (or even down salt mines) specifically to avoid picking up local radio signals. But ignoring the political practicalities for a moment, it is worth thinking about how useful SpecNet could be.

A national map of radio usage in the UK would cost about £2.11m annually to maintain, according to CRFS, which carried out a trial run for Ofcom in 2009. That proved too rich for our regulator's blood, but did attract the attention of the FCC, which plans to spend more than $10m to create a map of the USA as part of the country's National Broadband plan (mainly to aid the search for more spectrum to sell off).

The Microsoft chaps do hopefully suggest "governments may be willing to sponsor a set of spectrum analyzers dedicated for SpecNet use", and it would certainly seem to be an effective alternative to CRFS's method of strapping spectrum analysers to the roofracks of travelling salesmen.

As we exploit radio spectrum with greater efficiency, there is more interest in knowing just how efficiently we are exploiting it, and if there are any bits we've missed; SpecNet might not be the answer, but it's an interesting step towards it. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.