Feeds

Microsoft shows how to crowd-source spectrum management

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

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder
Carrier is 'aware' of cockup, working on a fix NOW
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.