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Test and Measurement Channel / Industry News

CRFS launches real-time spectrum monitoring and white spaces network

April 25, 2012
KEYWORDS crfs / network / rfeye / spectrum / white
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CRFS announces the public launch of its RFeye® real-time spectrum monitoring and white spaces tracking network. This pilot network has been trialled by CRFS initially in Cambridge as part of the Cambridge TV White Spaces trial. CRFS now plans to roll out a larger network in London to coincide with the various major events being held in London in July and August.

The RFeye network provides up-to-the-minute spectrum usage and occupancy data across all frequencies up to 6 GHz. This will enable dynamic allocation and efficient use of valuable spectrum, especially important in congested areas such as city centres. CRFS’s vision is that slices of spare spectrum capacity, whether in unlicensed white space bands or existing under-utilised licensed bands, can be "recycled" for use in the many new emerging wireless applications. This could be done through a real-time spectrum "clearance house," thereby creating an efficient and transparent market for surplus spectrum.

At the same time, the RFeye network will keep an ever-vigilant "eye" across the radio spectrum environment looking for sources of interference that may represent a nuisance or a threat. Highly sensitive and sweeping very fast across all spectrum bands, the RFeye detects suspicious or unauthorised signals and interference, the source of which can then be located and investigated using well-established triangulation techniques. The communications and navigation systems at the heart of modern societies have many vulnerabilities. In a minor example, an unauthorised wireless microphone left switched on in a stadium could interfere with local broadcasting. More threateningly, a GPS jammer could disable critical systems or be a cover for criminal or terrorist activity. CRFS hopes that its London RFeye network will be able to provide useful information to the authorities in the critical periods leading up to and during public events in London.

CEO Alistair Massarella said: "We designed the RFeye with the capability to support multiple functions with multiple users. It’s a great product for monitoring what is happening in spectrum but it can do so much more than that. The real power of the system is the ability to create large cost-effective distributed networks. As more and more technologies go wireless, the modern world needs to get more efficient use out of the finite spectrum resource, especially in densely populated areas. The RFeye is the ideal system for enabling real-time dynamic spectrum allocation and creating a transparent market for recycling surplus spectrum. In the future, I can imagine individual devices that are able to directly query and negotiate with their nearest RFeye to request access to a particular frequency band for a particular duration. In addition to its role in improving the efficiency of spectrum usage, an RFeye network acts as the eyes and ears of a city. Here, the ability to detect, locate and investigate unauthorised or rogue signals serves as an early warning system of potential threats, helping to prevent incidents and providing rich data for post-event analysis. All of this capability is built into our little white box."

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