Contact: Anna Scaglione, 277-0297 or
Michael Padilla, 277-1816

Feb. 20, 2001

UNM professor researches wireless communication

How can wireless communication be improved?

To help answer that question, Anna Scaglione, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of New Mexico, is establishing a research program in wireless communication.

Her research identifies ways to increase the speed and reliability of wireless communication. The designs are based on digital signal processing techniques that enhance the performance of the system with reduced complexity. Scaglione said the idea can be compared to creating a new set of wheels that will make the system run faster and better.

Her work was recently recognized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) Signal Processing Society that granted the IEEE 2000 Best Paper Award to her and coauthors, Prof. Georgios B. Giannakis, University of Minnesota and Prof. Sergio Barbarossa, University of Rome “La Sapienza” for the two papers: Redundant Filterbank Precoders and Equalizers Part I: Unification and Optimal Design and Redundant Filterbank Precoders and Equalizers Part II: Blind Channel Estimation, Synchronization and Direct Equalization , published in the “IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing” journal in July 1999. In their work the authors propose new modulation and data recovery techniques designed to fight the primary sources of distortion affecting broadband channels.

Scaglione said that society can benefit from pervasive broadband wireless access for education, public health, environmental emergencies, traffic control and surveillance. In fact, high speed wireless connections would make exchanging large amounts of data possible virtually anywhere and anytime, allowing the consultation of large databases containing critical information and interactive multimedia communications with people in distant locations or high speed computers in remote places.

She said the high speed information link that carries information of several users through the communication network can only reach limited locations. “There is obviously the problem of reaching each user”, Scaglione said. “The technology to cover the last and shorter section of the communication link (usually about one mile long) has to be cheaper than the technology used in the internal (nation or world-wide) network because of the many users that have to be connected. Wireless communication minimizes the cost of this connection, because the physical channel is already there as is the free space. Unfortunately, this type of communication is prone to severe distortions, especially when broadband signals are used to support high data rates.”
She said one of the advantages of digital communication is that there are two clear parameters that define how good the design is efficiency (the amount of radio frequency bandwidth required by the system) and reliability (the amount of errors in the received data).

Increasing efficiency and reliability is like increasing the speed of a car without increasing the amount of gas required to have increased performance, she said, adding that this usually comes at the cost of more sophisticated designs.

The advantages of the discrete signal processing approach in the design is that it can be implemented just by changing the type of programs performed in the digital signal processing chips included in the modems, she said. These chips operate as very fast computers that perform only specific operations. Proposing a new digital design is like using a better software and having a computer that works faster without changing the hardware, i.e. the actual machinery.

With an array of multimedia applications introduced via the Internet, the demand and the use of the communication media has changed rapidly, she said.

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