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Autonomic Means to Couple 802.11 a Wireless Radio to the Antenna via Software and Temporary Storage Disclosure Number: IPCOM000124977D
Original Publication Date: 2005-May-17
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-May-17
Document File: 4 page(s) / 42K

Publishing Venue



Our invention is a method that utilizes software and temporary storage as means to meet the requirement from the FCC for the antenna being an "integral part of the device". A novel use of system software BIOS and Device Driver creates a schema that authenticates the radio and antenna creating an integral devices. This implementation has a dependency on the presence of a scratch register in the PCI configuration space of the wireless card that can be used to pass a token between System BIOS and the Device Driver.

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Autonomic Means to Couple 802.11 a Wireless Radio to the Antenna via Software and Temporary Storage

    The radio (RF) spectrum is regulated in more than 88 countries. Authorized spectrum varies from country to country to avoid interference with military, aviation, broadcast, and commercial communications. Countries regulate modulation scheme, frequency of operation, and transmit power. It is essential for Wireless LAN (WiFi) such 802.11b 2.4 GHz and 802.11a 5 GHz to ensure that it's operating in authorized parameters. The regulations refer to a transmitter which is the radio and the antenna. The antenna is a central part of the transmitter since it is designed and tune to optimize gain or attenuation for desired frequencies. The license/authorization in the US is granted by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) which cover the transmitter unit (radio & antenna). A change to radio or antenna requires another submission and authorization.

In the case of PC cards, maintaining tight coupling between the radio and antenna is straightforward, since transmitter (radio and antenna) are typically packaged as a single unit. Maintaining tight coupling for devices imbedded in notebooks is much more complicated since the radio integrated into the case -- plastic shell in lid/cover and the radio is typically a mPCI card in base/chassis. In this case the transmitter is created by attaching the inserting the radio into a mPCI slot and attaching the radio to the antenna via coax cable leading to imbed antenna in the cover.

    To obtain authorization for the transmitter (radio and antenna), IBM must have a method to ensure that transmitter (radio and antenna) compiles with the regulatory requirements. The regulations also require that the end users not be able to change or reconfigure the transmitter resulting in operation outside of the authorization.

    In the case of 802.11b (2.4 GHz band), the regulation requires an unique connection between the radio and antenna. This was accomplished by a unique connector or a reverse thread connection (in case of IBM's Low Profile PCI Card). For ThinkPad, IBM accomplished by a method referred to BIOS Lock. During boot, POST checks the PCI IDs of the mPCI card and compares it to approved cards for that system. If BIOS detects an unapproved card, BIOS will prevent boot of the system. This allows IBM to enable a system to accept several different WiFi cards from different suppliers. IBM also used this approach to enable Wireless Ready systems, where the base system is shipped with the antenna as part of the chassis and the end user is able to install one of the approved WiFi mPCI radio cards.

    In he case of 802.11a (5 GHz band), the FCC informed IBM that the BIOS Lock is not stringent enough and would not be acceptable to obtain a grant of authorization. The FCC regulation Part 15.407d indicates that: "Any U-NII device that operates in the
5.15-5.25 GHz band shall use a transmitting antenna that is an integral part...