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I am not breaking the terms of any NDA in revealing that the Nokia research centre in Nairobi is involved in these developments. Basically Nokia is working on how to support the next billion new users.

One technology that is very interesting is Cognitive Radio. Bit of a Smart Grid really. Most connected mobile devices operate within a narrow frequency band. With GSM it might be anything in the 800 - 2100 MHz range, in different networks. This is all prime air estate as almost all radio frequencies are already licenced, But, and this is the crucial point, not all frequency bands are fully used at all times. Networks are designed for peak use - and even peak use can be dealt with locally by putting in more nodes temporarily e.g. a 60.000 capacity stadium music performance from a big band might generate thousands of uses of the network within a short time period.

What Cognitive Radio will do, when it works and when it is licenced, is to allow suitably equipped mobile devices (not yet existing) to connect to the network over a range of frequencies, or channels, as they are available. The network would decide (smart gridwise) at which frequency it will let you connect OR charge you a premium for bandwidth during peaks.

The problem is adjacent channel interference. GSM uses the mind boggling Gaussian minimum-shift keying (GMSK), a kind of continuous-phase frequency shift keying. But I'm sure the boffins will come up with something.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Mar 17th, 2010 at 07:45:59 AM EST

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