With 10 years and $100 million in research and development behind it, xG Technology Inc. is hoping the world is ready for its cognitive radio network. The Florida-based company stopped in Denver yesterday to demonstrate the radio and share its vision of the types of companies that could adopt its solution.
xG uses unlicensed spectrum to build what it calls the world’s first carrier-class cognitive radio network, called xMax. Along with the network, the company has built other elements needed to make its infrastructure ecosystem, including handsets, drive-by testing tools and network management tools.
xMax is a frequency-agile radio that can detect interference in real time – 33 times a second the radio senses the spectrum band to see where the interference is from other transmissions and adjusts accordingly, said Rick Rotondo, VP of marketing at the company. While most cognitive radios look at the frequency domain, xMax also senses the time domain. “In the time domain, we see windows of opportunity.”
While operators have steered clear of the 900 MHz band because it is unlicensed and that’s where Part 15 unlicensed devices operate, xG contends it is 15% occupied in the time domain at its heaviest points. Wireless operators, particularly AT&T Mobility, are beginning to trust unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum to offload traffic from the cellular network. Further, as the Federal Communications Commission tries to free up more spectrum for wireless broadband deployments, the 900 MHz band can become valuable using the xMax network. “We look at ourselves as a secondary user and we step out of the way” if someone else is using the band, Rotondo said. Interestingly, xMax network uses the cognitive radio in the handset as well as the base station so the service can be mobile.
While xG is demonstrating how its network can operate in unlicensed bands, it also sees opportunities in the licensed frequencies. Cable operators that want to have a wireless play, foreign companies that want to get into the U.S. market but lack spectrum and rural operators that need a mobile play can adopt its technology to run in the unlicensed bands, but the technology could also be used by licensed wireless operators that are facing capacity constraints. Vertical markets like utilities companies (which are clamoring for their own 30-megahertz swath of spectrum for smart-grid deployments) as well as public-safety and security companies are target markets for xG. Ultimately, the company would like to become a fables semiconductor company, licensing its intellectual property to others. “We are looking for key trials with existing carriers and new entrants, whether rural telcos, WISPs (wireless Internet service providers) or utilities. We’ve got 26 megahertz of spectrum right here.”
The company, founded by Richard Mooers and Roger Branton, has used a merchant bank to fund the business, forgoing the venture capital model.