IMEC, an independent nanoelectronics and nanotechnology research center based in Leuven, Belgium, has demonstrated spectrum sensing functions that could prove invaluable for the optimal utilization of the spectrum "white spaces" created by the transition from analog to digital TV.
IMEC researchers used an experimental setup that included its integrated reconfigurable radio platform. Information was collected on spectrum occupancy from UMTS and WLAN signals in specific bands.
The setup retrieves information on the frequency and bandwidth, including estimates for power and noise. The system includes IMEC's advanced ASICs implementing a programmable baseband platform and a flexible RF transceiver front-end that offers the possibility to scan from 100 MHz to 6 GHz.
IMEC's achievement comes in time to profit from the recent worldwide switch from analog to digital terrestrial TV. This switch frees a large portion of valuable spectrum, and is therefore often named the "digital dividend," or "white spaces."
Opportunistic wireless devices will be able to operate in these white spaces, the former TV broadcast channels. Such TV Band Devices (TVBD) will include the ability to detect the primary users of frequency bands, thus allowing the secondary use of the band without interfering with the primary users.
A key driver for the future success of small and portable TVBDs will be an efficient and low-power sensing technology. IMEC is now working to further develop a flexible, cost-friendly, and energy-efficient engine for spectrum sensing.