Software Download for Mobile Terminals

Paul Bucknell and Steve Pitchers

Philips Research Laboratories

The subject of software radio emerged as a ‘hot topic’ in mobile communications in the early 1990s, when many people saw the technology as a solution to the problems of complex RF and IF processing required in modern multimode/multiband mobile terminals. Today, software radio is seen more as a technology to enable the reconfiguration of terminals by download.1 Such reconfiguration can be achieved at all stages from design, through production, to post purchase use by the consumer.

This chapter begins by introducing the concepts of software reconfiguration by download and then describes some of the important software technology issues. Standards, security, and software architectures are then discussed. In the near term, the commercial benefits of software download are initially being reaped at the higher layers of the protocol stack, rather than through air interface reconfiguration. Such applications are not restricted to the field of mobile communications – the chapter thus includes a brief description of the present status and anticipated advances in software download for digital television – a global, high growth, consumer market. The potential use of software download to reconfigure the air interface in a mobile phone terminal ‘on the fly’ is examined. To exemplify the issues involved in such reconfiguration, we describe the implementation of a practical demonstration of ...

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