Software radio reconfiguration enables upgrades to in-vehicle and IoT radio systems

Most new cars sold today offer connectivity as a feature, whether standard or optional. Customers expect their navigation systems to be connected, to download real time traffic information and map updates.

Vehicle manufacturers increasingly provide remote diagnostics and vehicle software updates. And yet a fundamental problem remains: today these vehicles use 2G, 3G or 4G mobile networks to connect, while long before the end of their useful lives, 5G networks will be more common. The complete lifecycle of a vehicle is significantly longer than that of a mobile device, and completely out of step.

ETSI’s Technical Committee for Reconfigurable Radio Systems has developed a system which can help solve this and similar issues. ETSI’s Software Radio Reconfiguration model provides a modular and scalable solution to the challenge of deploying and using software radio systems.

The solution, described in a recent ETSI white paper and in the EN 303 146 series of European Standards, allows a gradual and stepwise deployment of software reconfigurable radio. This enables device manufacturers to gradually implement software reconfigurable radios, developing confidence at each step of the way.

The ETSI Software Radio Reconfiguration model provides solutions to the following issues which all software radio systems must address:

  • How to transfer and install radio software components in a secure way
  • How to provide access to new software components to a user/operator
  • How to deal with device certification and type approval when new radio software components can modify the radio behaviour of a device
  • How to provide software portability and achieve efficient radio performance
  • How to gradually evolve a system towards software reconfigurability

With the use of software reconfigurable radio, the radio system on board a vehicle can evolve and improve over time, with new software upgrades. Software reconfigurable radios will also help in other situations. For example, security concerns may require the upgrade and patching of radio systems deployed in the field. Yet manual intervention would be costly in the case of vehicles, or even impossible in the case of inaccessible IoT devices.

An overview of the ETSI model and the solutions and functionality it offers is provided in the recent ETSI White Paper “Software Radio Reconfiguration: A highly efficient and modular software reconfiguration approach for mobile devices”, available from the ETSI website. ETSI will also host a webinar on this subject, on 8 December 2017. Registration is open on the ETSI webinar channel.

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