Shared Spectrum last month demonstrated its cognitive radio system developed for the military's neXt Generation, or XG, program at an IEEE symposium on shared-spectrum technologies held in Dublin, Ireland.

Shared Spectrum's demonstration was a scaled-down version of tests conducted last August for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense, said Peter Tenhula, the company's vice president of regulatory affairs and business development. In those tests, Shared Spectrum demonstrated the ability to automatically and dynamically access multiple frequencies without interfering with legacy radios using the same frequencies.

“The fantasy for the ultimate cognitive radio is that it has both waveform agility and frequency agility,” Tenhula said. “We're focusing on the frequency agility right now using a WiMAX platform, because accessing spectrum is really the big problem right now.”

For the military, automatically accessing temporarily unused swaths of spectrum will simplify operations as personnel cross the borders of foreign countries and provide greater spectral efficiency, allowing more communications to reach troops, said Mark McHenry, president and co-founder of Shared Spectrum. “We're talking about a 100-to-1 improvement of capacity,” McHenry said, adding that the first radios built for the military would be available this summer. “Our radios are going to cost $3000 to $5000 in about three months. … We think there is going to be a niche market for a radio at that cost-performance point,” he said.