Cognitive radio freeing up mobile phone bandwidth so you can consume more data

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The Independent Tech

High-powered mobile devices are quickly becoming the status quo. Smartphones are replacing mobile phones at an unprecedented rate, enabling consumers to stay connected at every moment in the day.

At the same time this newfound ability to stream live videos on the go, watch TV, video-chat with our friends on the other side of the world and keep up to date with real-time news is thrusting us towards a day when global data consumption reaches critical levels.

In February 2010 Cisco predicted that by 2014 there could be more than 5 billion personal devices connecting to mobile networks. According to Cisco's research, more than 400 million internet users across the globe will access the network solely through a mobile connection in 2014.

Cellular providers are starting to abandon all-you-can-eat data plans in the US and around the world fearing smartphone-wielding consumers will start to overload the networks if they are able to continually download as much data as they want.

The Nokia Research Center (NRC) has been working on a solution that might circumvent the mobile data traffic gridlock. Called Cognitive Radio, Nokia's solution reroutes mobile traffic through additional bandwidths (such as those used for radio and TV) when the existing mobile networks become overloaded with traffic.

"Cognitive radio will make using data-intensive services much quicker. So, watching videos from web, finding where you are in the world, sending a Tweet about a celebrity spotting or updating your Facebook status will be a cinch; even if you're surrounded by the Tweetaholics of this world," explained Nokia in a June 28 blog post.

"Meaning, if you're in an area saturated with intense mobile users and you fancy catching up on some HD video goodness, cognitive radio will look for additional bandwidth, or provide optimal service continuity for mobile users."

Companies such as Google, Dell, Microsoft, and Philips have been researching ways in which unused frequencies can be temporarily tapped into to solve the mobile bandwidth problem. Additional solutions that may reduce stress on wireless networks include using proximity-based data sharing technologies and "Smart WiFi" - a technology that "uniquely focuses Wi-Fi signals only where they are needed."

On June 28 American President Barack Obama vowed to almost double the amount of wireless spectrum available for mobile communications - including smartphones, laptops and "new forms of 'machine-to-machine' communication" - in the US over the next ten years.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that Obama wrote a memo to the heads of federal agencies and departments saying, "This new era in global technology leadership will only happen if there is adequate spectrum available to support the forthcoming myriad of wireless devices, networks and applications that can drive the new economy."

For more information about cognitive radio visit Nokia's dedicated page:

Cognitive radio explained:

Rethinking the wireless spectrum crisis:

Cisco's Visual Networking Index Forecast: