Electronic Design

A Technology Solution To Spectrum Limitations

Though the 700-MHz spectrum and white space have opened up new opportunities, spectrum will always be scarce and even more so in the future. Furthermore, it’s important to use every bit of existing technology for efficiency’s sake. In this regard, softwaredefined radio (SDR) techniques and cognitive radio are already being deployed.

One technique you may not have considered, however, is deep packet inspection (DPI) (see “\\[\\[Plumb-The-Depths-Of-Deep-Packet-Inspection21562|Plumb The Depths Of Deep Packet Inspection\\]\\]”). DPI is the technique of network packet filtering that looks not only at the packet header to make routing decisions, but also at the data part of the packet. With this extra inspection step, wireless networks can make better decisions about how to handle calls.

“When thinking about DPI in wireless, it is critical to appreciate that because spectrum in a cell site is a shared resource, the choice is not between unlimited data or limited data,” says Mike Coward, CTO and co-founder of Continuous Computing. “The choice is between thoughtful, intentional bandwidth allocation based on user application or chaotic allocation based on which users’ applications are the greediest.”

An unmanaged network won’t maximize the quality of user experience. Instead, it will encourage application developers to come up with new mechanisms to maximize bandwidth to their particular applications. Even with the new 700-MHz spectrum opening up, demand for network bandwidth will always increase faster than operators can take advantage of new spectrum.

“This imbalance is why DPI is so crucial in wireless networks, especially as they migrate from 3G to 4G/LTE. DPI allows for better management of bandwidth and therefore higher quality of service to all subscribers,” says Coward. “Mobile operators also benefit by the deployment of DPI because they will be able to create new tiered service plans, such as those geared toward gamers and extreme P2P (peer-to-peer) applications that will drive incremental revenue gains.”

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