Cognitive Radio

As an enabling technology Cognitive Radio (CR) holds an interesting promise for improved utilisation of the radio frequency spectrum. By sensing the local radio environment and understanding the user’s communications needs, cognitive radios are able to select and deploy the most appropriate communications profile – frequency band, access technique and modulation method – to transfer information using radio waves.

These CR capabilities are considered as highly valuable for the introduction of new radio communication services, as essentially all (usable) radio frequency spectrum has been allocated and assigned, while in practice the radio frequency spectrum appears to be under-utilized, if considered in time and place.

Hence, CRs are considered very suitable for providing communications services using the radio spectrum on a secondary basis, i.e., on a non-interfering non-protected basis with respect to the primary user. A first application of this kind is foreseen in so-called ‘white spots’ in TV-bands. For that purpose the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC)[1] is in the process of adapting the regulations), while the CEPT[2] is investigating the opportunity in Europe.

This is an interesting first step, as CR technology can be deployed much more widely. The ability of CR to be multi-band and multi-mode suggest the technology may provide better service levels than existing technologies for instance in situations of unexpected high demand, e.g., during calamities.   

Literature on CR

For a highly accessible introduction to CR:

Doyle, L. (2009). "Essentials of Cognitive Radio". Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

For a comprehensive discussion of CR:

Fette, B.A. (2009). Cognitive Radio Technology (2nd Edition). Amsterdam: Academic Press (Elseviers)


  1. The Federal Communications Commission is an United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions (FCC, 2007).[back]
  2. CEPT: Conférence des Administrations Européennes des Postes et Télécommunications, an Association of European Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (PTTs).[back]