Wireless Innovation Forum Top Ten Most Wanted Innovations

Innovation #9: Standardized computer interpretable policy language for cognitive radio

9.1 Executive Summary

The ability of RF equipment to operate legally and agilely across multiple bands and in multiple places using machine readable policies as the means for a radio to check whether it is legal and eligible constitutes “policy awareness.” The policies can include regulatory and system specific guidance.  They can specify when spectrum is available and the conditions for its use.  It is important to recognize that many RF equipment are currently being architected to support multiple applications i.e. communications, navigation, radar, electronic warfare, and sensing. Thus, in a wide sense, policy enabled radios are a type of RF equipment in which the radio is aware of its environment, which may include location, time, or other operational parameters related to its application and internal state. The radio can make decisions about its operating behavior (e.g. choice of multiple bands) based on this information and predefined objectives. 

Future innovations are required to allow regulatory policies and rules for dynamic policy based radio control to be automatically interpreted and executed and to create the methods to articulate the policy for radio execution.  Current rulemaking in database managed spectrum sharing provides the first step of the evolutionary path toward this vision by providing the infrastructure that in the future may manage and distribute policy to radios.  The ability for communications between cognitive radios that may come from different vendors requires compatibility in the decision making process and thus a standardized, deterministic machine computable policy language.

9.2 Applications

A policy language with computer process-able semantics could be used to support a number of problems identified by the Wireless Innovation Forum that require innovation. Some of the problems that could be dealt with using such a language are listed below.A declarative language with computer processable semantics can support a number of problems identified by the Wireless Innovation Forum that require innovations. Some of the problems that could be dealt with using such a language are listed below.

  • Interoperability: Communication systems (and other applications that use spectrum) can use machine understanding to interoperate and control their functionality because they share a common knowledge base and can understand each other as they speak a common language. This applies to the military (coalition and inter-system interoperability), public safety (among various agencies, services and emergency responders), commercial (Cellular and WLAN), and various combinations of the aforementioned.
  • Run time configurability: Communication nodes can understand requests for reconfiguration and implement the requested functionality (e.g., a waveform) according to the specification provided by another node.
  • Validation: Formalization allows for detection of inconsistencies and formal validation of functionality.
  • Self-awareness: Communication nodes can describe their own structure and capabilities, and tell others about it.
  • Flexible querying: Communication nodes can query other nodes about their functionality and capabilities.
  • Communication economy: No need to transmit information that can be inferred locally at the receiver node.
  • Radio certification: Formal specifications of the structure and the functionality of particular communication systems can be utilized in the process of certification. Only the components that are modified will need to be certified.
  • Support Dynamic Spectrum Access: Policies for dynamic spectrum access can be expressed in the policy language and then automatically interpreted by an Inference Engine running on either a base station or on a handset (or other RF equipment). The policy decisions then can be enforced by the device.

9.3 Description

The future policy language will be designed to enable radio nodes to exchange information – both object (data) information and process (control) information.    It will support RF equipment designed for multiple applications i.e. communications, navigation, radar, electronic warfare, and sensing and will enable both corporative and synergistic operation among these applications.  The interaction of radio entities with the policy language will be formally specified including affirmative and/or exceptional actions to be taken by the involved entities. The policy language will be able to interact with a knowledge representation. 

The future policy language should have the expressive capability of describing at least the following aspects of communications:

  • capabilities of the nodes (e.g., frequency bands, modulations, MAC protocols, access authorizations, etiquettes, transmitter and receiver characteristics, bandwidths, and interconnections),
  • networks available to a user (parameters, restrictions, costs),
  • security / privacy (capability, constraints, policies),
  • information types (an emergency call vs. just a “how are you” message),
  • local spectrum situation (spectrum activity, propagation properties),
  • network to subscriber and subscriber to network control (policies),
  • manufacturer matters (hardware and software policy),
  • types of users (authority, priority, etc.),
  • types of data (Asynchronous, Isochronous, narrow band, broad band, etc.),
  • local regulatory framework (e.g., policies at a given geo location, time of day, emergency situation, etc.),
  • time of Day (at both ends of session and important points in between),
  • geographic Location (in three space, surrounding geography/architecture), and
  • fuzzy, probabilistically defined events and actions.