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NSF awards wireless research grant to ISU, INL researchers

Wireless grant

POCATELLO, Idaho - Talking on your cell phone could possibly be more secure thanks to some researchers at Idaho State University and the Idaho National Laboratory. 

The National Science Foundation awarded ISU Electric Engineering Program professor Dr. Hossein Mousavinezhad more than $99,000 in grant money to help the INL develop ways to make communication along the electromagnetic spectrum more efficient.

"The electromagnetic spectrum is becoming more and more crowded," Mousavinezhad said. "It's like more and more cars on the highway, and now we have more and more channels and communications."

Anything that sends out a wireless signal such as: cell phones, laptops, etc. are all transmitted along the same spectrum.

Now that this spectrum is becoming increasingly more crowded, we're seeing more dropped calls in bigger cities. 

Mousavinezhad said the spectrum is managed and regulated by the FCC, where they auction certain portions of it off to companies such as cell phone carriers. Now, he said we're starting to see higher and higher frequencies auctioned off.

"Now that the megahertz frequency is crowded, they have to move to a higher frequency like gigahertz," Mousavinezhad said.

As each portion of the spectrum crowds, the higher the frequency we jump to.

He reminded us the military, national security departments, and even the aviation industry runs on wireless devices. Meaning, they will also have to address the issue of cyber security.

On May 15 and 16 ISU and the INL will host the National Wireless Research Collaboration Symposium at the INL's National Wireless User Facility where more than 100 people from various research institutions and government organizations are expected to attend.

This symposium will allow attendees to collaborate and discuss these issues surrounding the electromagnetic spectrum and find solutions.

Mousavinezhad also mentioned he and his team of researchers have already started working on security-based algorithms that help encode messages guaranteeing the security of the communication wavelength. 

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