Researchers work on low-cost 4G

A new research institute in Dublin will focus on future wireless technologies such as 4G and RFID.

Researchers in Dublin and scientists from Bell Labs will collaborate as part of a government-funded effort to explore new applications for 4G (fourth-generation) mobile phone technology and ways to ensure low-cost service delivery.

Researchers in the new institute will work on a variety of technologies, starting with 4G mobile networks, said Ronan Farrell, director of the institute, in a telephone interview on Tuesday. "3G was immensely expensive to deploy," Farrell said. "So next time we want to figure out how to fix some of that in advance."

The national University of Ireland, Maynooth, launched the Institute of Microelectronics and Wireless Systems last week with Euro 4.5 million (AUD$7.1 million) in government funding.

Bell Labs, the research arm of Lucent Technologies, is the first corporate partner for the institute. Earlier this year, the research company opened a major research facility in Dublin.

The European Union has released a definition of 4G that is very customer-oriented with a focus on ensuring that pricing for the service is low, Farrell said. His group aims to study how to deliver low-price service using technologies such as cognitive radios, he said. Cognitive radios can automatically transmit over different frequencies based on traffic, making more efficient use of spectrum resources.

The institute will be staffed by 26 researchers from the university. They'll work with Bell Labs researchers in Bell Labs' facility as well as at the university. The Irish government and Bell Labs are contributing Euro 43 million to fund the Bell Labs facility that opened earlier this year.

Dublin is an ideal location for research in the wireless space, Farrell said, because so many companies have wireless research facilities there. Intel, Bell Labs and Motorola are three large multinationals with facilities in Ireland. "There is also a healthy startup environment in Dublin in the wireless space," he said.

The new institute hopes to include other companies in addition to Bell Labs and is currently holding talks with several others, Farrell said. Intellectual property from developments made at the institute in partnership with corporate partners and later commercialized will be shared between the corporate partner and the institute, Farrell said. The institute will be able to access Bell Labs intellectual property for research purposes.

The institute, which will specialize in microelectronic chip design for wireless products, will research other wireless technologies such as RFID (radio frequency identification), in addition to 4G, Farrell said.

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