Fans of Roddy Doyle will know that one of his novels is “The Van” in which Jimmy Rabbitte sells cheap grub – fish and chips – to the hungry in Dublin, whilst trying to stay one step ahead of the city health officials. If you haven’t heard of Roddy Doyle, then perhaps you might nevertheless have seen the movie or heard the music from “The Commitments”, which is based on one of his other books, and is the story of a new soul band born in Dublin city.
“The Van”, or “Van the Man”, are also nicknames for the great Belfast musician and singer Van Morrison, one of my personal favorites.
Anyway. “The Van” is kind-of well-established in Dublin culture!
For the next two weeks, a new “Van” is hitting the streets of Dublin. It is white, marked prominently with “CTVR” and has various antennae on the roof. In fact, it will be making history: in conjunction with two major international wireless conferences being hosted back to back in Dublin – IEEE DySpan and IEEE VTC – the first civilian trials (I believe in the world..) will be taking place in live dynamic spectrum, ultra-wideband antennae and software radio.
The unique trials are being undertaken by international researchers attending either or both conferences, and the research team in the Centre for Telecommunications Value Chain Research (CTVR), for which Prof. Donal O’Mahony is the Centre Director; Dr. Linda Doyle of TCD leads the software radio activities; Dr. Ronan O’Farrell of NUI Maynooth leads radio frequency hardware research; and for which I am the current chairperson.
Raw data and the results of the live experiments are being made available to the attendees of the two conferences, for follow up study and research. Some leading companies and researchers worldwide have brought their own equipment and research tools to Dublin to be able, for the very first time, to conduct their own live experiments, during the two conferences.
Our national Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) granted CTVR a special trial license for the research, which enables live experimentation in dynamic spectrum management. The work has global impact, since in general the electromagnetic spectrum worldwide is increasingly crowded. Currently, broadcasters (mobile phone operators, TV stations, radio stations, emergency services, satellite communications, navigation frequencies, etc) are statically allocated frequency ranges by each jurisdiction. In many cases however, the spectrum at specific frequencies and at a particular location or region may be actually currently idle – for example a TV station might be currently off-air, or current traffic on a mobile phone network relatively light. Dynamic spectrum techniques change the entire model: frequencies can be allocated on demand as actually needed rather than statically pre-allocated; used, and then released. They even can be traded on demand, opening up entire new business models..
Ireland’s own use of the electromagnetic spectrum is not as crowded as many other jurisdictions, in part as a consequence of not having a large military requirement for frequency allocations. ComReg has been remarkably fore-sighted in permitting (I believe, the world’s first civilian) live experimental use of a large swathe of frequencies, including for CTVR. One major possible use of dynamic frequency techniques and ultra-wideband antennae is for IPTV transmissions. Equally, software radios potentially enable miniaturisation of the current portfolio of antennae ‘stacks” – such as in “tri-band” cell and mobile phones, and other mobile devices and sensors – into a single, dynamically-tuneable, antenna driven by software.
If you’re in Dublin city over the next two weeks, watch out for the CTVR Van!! And if you’re interested in dynamic spectrum, software radio or ultra wide-band antennae, then get along to the conferences, in the Burlington hotel.