The use of small cells by mobile operators has been getting a lot of buzz lately. One thing that’s fallen below the radar (no pun intended) is the use of small cells in military systems. In the world of military broadband wireless networks, ambitions have risen in parallel with the ubiquitous deployment of civilian broadband wireless networks. However, the development of advanced military radios has been scaled back in some cases, and manufacturers are under pressure to deliver affordable solutions, quickly and through low-risk programs. To deliver the broadband performance the military needs, at a price governments can afford, some manufacturers have integrated advanced commercial Systems-on-a-Chip (SoCs) designed for civilian small-cell base stations into their military software defined radio (SDR) systems.
Defense OEMs’ pivot towards COTS SDR technologies is understandable – the performance of the latest civilian base station SoCs is spectacular. Not only do these systems implement multiple air interface standards (2G/GSM, 3G/HSPA+, as well as 4G/LTE) and offer very high end-user bitrates (over 10 Mbps), but they also implement advanced adaptive antenna techniques such as 2X2 and 4X4 MIMO. Although small-cell SoCs incorporate many of the features required by tactical radio designers, some SoCs are better suited to military applications than others. In this article, I’ll highlight these differences.
Summer time is the perfect chance for people to hit the road with their families and see the sights. Roadtrips have been a North-American tradition for decades. They always sound like a good idea when you head out, but by the third day of “Are we there yet?” the parents usually want to strangle someone. There was a clear trend this year however: instead of seeing 100$ DVD players strapped in front of children’s faces, I saw lots of iPads in their place. I was also guilty of this. Playing video on a tablet is just so much easier than shuffling through DVD discs, the custom battery charger, carrying an extra gadget. And most importantly, the screen is a lot bigger. But this isn’t an ad for Apple. The same would have been true for any tablet. In fact, less expensive tablets will probably start showing up more frequently, attached to headrests in cars everywhere in lieu of cheap DVD players.
Fast-forward a few years, and what do you think we’ll see? Those same tablets will have pervasive 3G/4G connections. And those same kids will grow up a little. Within 1-2 years, I’m convinced we’ll see the proliferation of “backseat …
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