Spectrum Signal Processing develops customized Smart Antenna

Feb. 1, 2001
Experts at Spectrum Signal Processing recently began offering a custom Smart Antenna development platform, based on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology.

By John McHale

BURNABY, British Columbia — Experts at Spectrum Signal Processing recently began offering a custom Smart Antenna development platform, based on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. The system enables tracking wireless users and reduced probability of intercept.

Company officials are targeting this technology at government and commercial wireless applications. Spectrum officials say the Smart Antenna will benefit government and commercial users that require increased capacity, extended range, and signal enhancement to get the most out of their equipment.

"Our goal is to enable the government and commercial wireless markets to develop cost-effective smart antennas," says Brian Lowe, vice president of wireless Systems at Spectrum.

Every customer will have specific needs, hence the custom, but Spectrum engineers will uses as much COTS equipment as possible in every, says Manuel Uhm, marketing manager at Spectrum. Most of Spectrum's business is COTS equipment, so leveraging that technology will be a priority, he adds.

Spectrum's Smart Antenna uses several antennas and intensive signal processing to locate a mobile user and steer an antenna beam toward the user to extend range, Spectrum officials explain.

It also can reduce interference from other users, Spectrum officials say. In government wireless systems, smart antenna systems can locate and focus on various signals of interest. The antenna also can form a narrow beam and direct it toward the intended recipient to reduce the probability of intercept, Uhm says.

The technology is currently receive only, which nicely fits many military applications, company officials say. Spectrum engineers also are working to enable the antenna to transmit, Uhm says.

The Smart Antenna enables users to use direction finding to track all users, Uhm says. It uses spatially diverse antennas to measure the angle of arrival of a received signal, he explains. The angle of arrival information also can help determine the location of the transmitter.

The Smart Antenna is more efficient and accurate than today's typical antennas, which use a wide beam over a broad area, Uhm says. It can perform dynamic beamforming by adaptively directing the pattern of the receive antenna to improve signal quality, Uhm explains. "As users move you can track them and maintain the beam," he adds.

Software currently supports two to eight receive channels with a 10 MHz bandwidth and can scan the frequency range from 20 MHz to 3 GHz, sufficient for all military communications and cellular bands, Spectrum officials say.

The current demo works with a Texas Instruments TMS320C6701 floating point digital signal processor (DSP), Uhm says. However, for future applications Spectrum officials are looking at PowerPC, he adds.

Spectrum's flexComm also enables government and commercial vendors flexibility to develop their own smart antennas or partner with Spectrum to develop a custom smart antenna to meet their needs, Spectrum officials say.

Spectrum officials say the believe "the rapid increase in wireless users, the existence of multiple air interface standards around the world, the expense and scarcity of radio spectrum, and the desire for increased service offerings to wireless device users are driving the need for smart antenna."

For more information on the Smart Antenna contact Manuel Uhm by phone at 604-421-5422, by fax at 604-421-1764, by mail at One Spectrum Court, #200 - 2700 Production Way, Burnaby, British Columbia, by e-mail at [email protected], or on the World Wide Web at http://www.spectrumsignal.com.

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