Software Defined Radio Transceiver to Enable Low-Cost, Low-Power, GSM/P25 Emergency Radio



The University of Texas at Dallas is seeking companies interested in commercializing a revolutionary new Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology which overcomes the limitations of conventional hardware-based radio by providing an RF modulator (the radio “front end”) that is completely software-defined and not based on the physical layer.  This is accomplished through UTD’s patented reconfiguration of the low-cost, low-power, commercially-available Texas Instruments LoCostoTM single-chip GSM radio.  This technology promises to drastically reduce the cost of P25 emergency radios by a factor of ten (estimate).


Whereas traditional radio devices are limited to operating within specific hardware-defined parameters, this technology provides a software-defined radio transceiver chip that is capable of transmitting, receiving, and switching between both GSM (cellular) and P25 protocols.


Additionally, the transceiver’s SDR software can be upgraded over-the-air while the radio is in operation, allowing new wireless features, capabilities, and communication standards to be added to SDR radio systems without requiring any new hardware.  This ensures that SDR-enabled equipment will not become outdated or obsolete as communication standards evolve.   


*      Technology is covered by US Patent #:  8,260,279 – issued 9/4/2012.



Communication difficulties between various federal, state, and local public safety agencies using disparate proprietary radio hardware is a well-known problem, resulting in poorly-coordinated emergency responses and delayed processing of urgent information.  This was the impetus behind the P25 radio standard which has been designed as a “common” communication protocol to allow interoperability between different agencies, irrespective of radio hardware manufacturer. 


Like their predecessors, conventional P25 radios are built using numerous specialty discrete components and complex board designs, resulting in very expensive equipment which is bulky, heavy, and inefficient.  Because of the high cost of upgrading to modern P25 radios, adoption of P25 radio hardware has been slow.


UTD’s P25 Software Defined Radio technology promises to significantly reduce the size, weight, and cost of P25-compliant radio communication equipment for the public safety, security, military, utility, and transportation industries.


Applications Include:

*      GSM/P25 Portable and Mobile Radios

*      GSM/P25 Base Stations

*      Wireless Bridge for IP Integration into P25 networks.

*      Adaptive/Cognitive/Intelligent Radio


 Features & Benefits

Lower Equipment Cost

·      Complete SDR solution is implemented in a single, low-cost, “off-the-shelf” TI GSM chip which is currently used in low-cost mobile phones, thereby leveraging manufacturing economies of scale.

·      Eliminates the need for extensive custom board design because the TI LoCostoTM GSM chip is highly integrated, featuring high-resolution QVGA color display output, USB 2.0 connectivity, memory storage, etc.

·      Reduces “Time To Market” by eliminating the need for radio manufacturer to design complex RF modulation circuitry.

Low Power Consumption

·       TI oCostoTM GSM chip has been specifically optimized for low-power mobile phone applications.

Light Weight/ Small Form Factor

·       Reconfigured TI LoCostoTM chip combines the functionality of multiple conventional P25 hardware components into a single highly-integrated chip, enabling full-featured P25 radio to be implemented in mobile phone form factor. 

·       Power efficiency enables reduced battery size.

·       Capable of transmitting, receiving, and switching between both GSM (cellular) and P25 protocols, thereby eliminating the need for an officer to carry both a P25 radio and a separate mobile phone.  

Software Flexibility

·       SDR software is upgradeable “over-the-air”, allowing easy deployment of bug fixes, new wireless features, and communication standards to be added. 

·       Reduces hardware obsolescence.


·       Proven reliability of TI LoCostoTM GSM chip in consumer mobile applications.

Low Risk

·       Fully P25 C4FM (continuous 4-level FM)-compliant data signal has been demonstrated using this technology (see figure below).



A P25 Software Defined Radio transceiver chip has been developed by reconfiguring the internal software of the Texas Instruments LoCostoTM chip (a reconfigurable, programmable, low-cost, Digital RF Processor (DRP)-based single-chip GSM/EDGE radio currently used in low-power GSM mobile phones). 


This GSM radio chip’s software has been successfully reconfigured to modulate the RF carrier signal with P25-compliant C4FM (continuous 4-level FM) data.  The plot to the left illustrates how the actual measured output of this invention exactly matches that of an ideal P25 signal.


Note that the P25 digital public safety standard operates in the 746-806 MHz frequency band, which is different from the normal operating band of the GSM/EDGE chip.  The modulation of this P25 signal is based completely in software, without the need for any hardware modifications to the chip or ancillary circuitry. 


With further development, it is expected that this technology can be expanded to operate on a variety of different modulation types, frequencies, or bandwidths, including common communication standards such as 802.11b,g,n (WiFi), 802.16 (WiMAX), Bluetooth, and ZigBee, in addition to GSM/EDGE and Project 25 (P25).



Kamran Kiasaleh, PhD., is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas and is the Associate Department Head of the Electrical Engineering program.  His research experience in the area of telecommunications spans over 24 years in industrial and academic settings.  He was the recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) research initiation award and a NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) group achievement award for a Galileo experiment - the first successful optical communications demonstration with a deep-space vehicle.  He holds three patents, one of which is implemented in 3rd generation wireless communication receivers.  He is a senior member of IEEE and holds a Professional Engineering license in the state of Texas.


Poras Balsara, Ph.D., is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas and is also associated with its Center for Integrated Circuits and Systems.  His research and teaching interests include VLSI design, design of energy efficient digital circuits and systems, computer arithmetic, VLSI architectures and algorithms for DSP and telecommunications, and reconfigurable architectures.  Current research topics include: Energy efficient digital systems, VLSI circuits and architectures for DSP and telecommunications, and reconfigurable digital systems. 


Commercialization Next Steps

*      Board layout/radio amplifier template is defined - optimize for specific application

*      Design/specify ancillary hardware components (battery, display, keypad, enclosure, etc.)

*      Negotiate LoCostoTM chip purchase agreement with TI


Licensing Opportunity

This technology is available for exclusive and non-exclusive licensing.



Brent Schultze, Senior Technology Commercialization Manager

Tel: (972) 883-4589

UT Dallas Tech ID: 09-002



Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
William Schultze
Assistant Director Technology Comm
University of Texas at Dallas
Kamran Kiasaleh
Poras Balsara
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