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[Discuss-gnuradio] Vanu in Wired

From: Steve Schear
Subject: [Discuss-gnuradio] Vanu in Wired
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 15:14:07 -0800

[The following is from a single column piece on page 38 of the Feb. 2002 print issue of Wired (not posted by them online yet). I've sent off a reply, based on John's Draft Letter, to the author. I'll post his response, if or when it arrives. Steve]

Download Your Cell Phone!

Your cell phone is living on borrowed time. Every 18 months, Americans trash their cells and buy new ones. Europeans do so every 12 months, and the Japanese every 9. But the whole upgrade cycle could change in the next three or four years.

Instead of buying a new unit and getting a whole host of innovative features some useful, others not you might click into a Web site and download the specific addons you want, paying a price for the new functions as you go. What's more, these might be really cool extras like an AM/FM radio or a garagedoor opener. They'll be software packages that change the way your cell phone modulates and interprets radio frequencies. They'll let your US cell phone switch its operating frequencies and roam a European or Japanese network. That's because your soupedup phone will really be a generalpurpose computer, running a software radio program. And in all likelihood, that program will have been written largely by Vanu Bose, son of Amar Bose, the legendary designer of speakers and stereo systems.

The idea grew out of the MIT SpectrumWare project, which in 1996 produced the first working software radio outside the military. Two years later, Vanu and five friends took $200,000 of their own money and set up a small company called Vanu Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to commercialize the technology. In the fall of 1998, Boeing asked the firm to join its consortium, which was competing for the military's Joint Tactical Radio System project to create a single radio architecture for all of the US armed services.

Ultimately, Vanu hopes to be the Dolby of the software radio world to develop critical technology that others license and build into their products. The first commercial deployment is likely to be at cell phone towers, which will let carriers switch from standard to standard as needed. Next will be cars, which have more electrical power and space than wireless handsets do. By the end of the decade, nonsoftware phones are likely to be fastfading anachronisms.

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