KU, Sprint research wireless technologies

Kansas City,MO (08-18-2008)

From KC Business Journal
By Staff

The University of Kansas is researching technologies that could help Sprint Nextel Corp. deploy its high-speed access to its wireless network.

In a release Monday, KU said its Information and Telecommunication Technology Center is leading multidisciplinary research with Overland Park-based Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) and Lawrence-based Sunflower Broadband to correlate the performance of millimeter wave (mmw) communication systems with weather that can weaken signals and disrupt transmissions. These communication systems transfer as much as 1 billion bits of data a second and can cut costs and improve performance of broadband wireless services, the release said.

"Sprint Nextel future products will require extensive bandwidth to be differentiated in the emerging world of 4G (Fourth Generation) communication, or the mobile Internet," Tim Euler, Sprint Nextels senior technology strategist, said in the release. "This demand will be met with alternative technologies like mmw and network meshing techniques to ensure high reliability of the Sprint Nextel brand."

ITTC researchers have placed weather stations at Sunflower Broadband sites around Lawrence and on the KU campus. The stations collect meteorological data such as rain rate, relative humidity and rain droplet size. On-site cameras take pictures every 30 seconds, providing additional observations. The Sunflower cable network transports the weather data back to ITTC, and researchers from the KU Department of Geography analyze the weather measurements.

KU researchers are testing the range of mmw systems, which traditionally have been used only near one another. Radios on roofs of KU buildings are communicating with a radio on a grain silo at Pendleton Farms, providing a 5.5-mile link.

Initial results from the study found that mmw systems work well over the relatively long distance in clear weather and are accessible most of the time, the release said.

Victor Frost, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at KU and the projects principal investigator, said in an interview that the project started in April 2007.

"I think this has a lot of potential," Frost said. "Were going to a world where handsets have multiple-megabit capabilities. When all that data traffic gets to aggregation points--cell towers--youll have to have a bigger pipe back to the Internet."

Euler said in an interview that the research will continue at least until the first quarter. He wouldnt disclose how much money Sprint is spending on the research.

Mmw systems operate in the 71-76 gigahertz and the 81-86 GHz ranges of the radio frequency spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission in 2003 opened these high frequencies to promote development and deployment of new wireless broadband services and equipment.

For more information, contact ITTC.

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