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Cisco Receives FCC Certification for First 802.11 Software Defined Radio


New FCC Rule Change Opens Industry to Software Defined Radios (SDRs); Cisco First with Certified 802.11a SDRs that Allow for Wireless LAN Channel Expansion and Capacity Upgrade

SAN JOSE, CA, September 20, 2005 -- As wireless local area networks (WLANs) increase in popularity, the amount of usable bandwidth and available radio frequencies decreases. Recognizing the need to address future radio spectrum depletion, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently adopted a new rule that would dramatically increase the capabilities and time-to-market of radio-enabled devices by way of Software Defined Radios or “smart” radio systems. Cisco Systems® today announced that under this new rule, the FCC certified Cisco 802.11a radios to be the industry’s first Wi-Fi SDR products.

With this certification Cisco 802.11a radios, which currently provide 12 operating channels in the three 5GHz Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure bands, will soon be field upgradeable to support an additional 11 channels between 5.4 and 5.7GHz, which nearly doubles available network capacity.

Software Defined Radios provide WLAN users with investment protection and greater network capability. By having the only 802.11a field upgradeable SDR, companies with these types of wireless LANs need not purchase new hardware to access additional and upcoming radio frequency channels. With SDRs, WLANs also operate more efficiently in congested radio environments by having access to more channels. Devices without SDR certification are precluded by law from having this type of capability and flexibility.

Looking forward, manufacturers that develop SDR-enabled devices, such as handhelds, access points and PDA’s, will be able to use one radio in place of multiple radios, which reduces costs and speeds new products to market.

“This use of the FCC’s progressive Software Defined Radio regulations provides real value to enterprise customers today who are continually calling upon their wireless networks to support more bandwidth intensive applications,” said Brett Galloway, vice president and general manager, wireless networking business unit at Cisco Systems. “The promise of SDR as envisioned by the FCC, Cisco and other forward-thinking groups, will reshape not just wireless networks, but will foster new categories of innovative, wireless devices.”
Software Defined Radios to Spur New Applications and Devices

Future SDRs will be capable of dynamically switching across a wide range of frequency bands, transmission techniques and modulation schemes so that a single radio could take the place of multiple hardware designs. For example, a user device with a single SDR could be capable of automatically switching between Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, GSM and CDMA infrastructure with no loss of connectivity. This provides for a new range of wireless devices that are small, lighter, consume less power and cost less than devices with multiple radios.

“SDR marks a fundamental shift in how devices operate in the radio spectrum,” said Galloway. “Because of the FCC’s adoption of SDR, vendors can create innovative solutions that intelligently adapt to and optimize performance in congested wireless environments. This is the type of breakthrough that has substantial ripple effects for devices and applications to come.”

The Cisco Aironet 1240AG Series access points will be the first from Cisco to be SDR field upgradeable. More information about Cisco’s SDR and Unified Wireless Architecture is available at
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