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Research Interests

A whole host of research topics contributing towards providing ubiquitous wireless communications services are addressed by the Group. Our main activities are related to the range of physical layer enabling technologies, although a variety of network-layer functions and implementation-specific issues related to VLSI chip design are also addressed. Below we endeavour to provide a snap-shot of our activities in the field with reference to some of the current researchers' work.

Industrial Contact

The Group has a good relationship with the communications industry and with technology transfer research sponsors, such as the Virtual Centre of Excellence (VCE) constituted by about 25 industrial companies. We also collaborate with a dozen Euroepan communications company under the auspices of the European Union's 5th Framework Programme.

Two very succcessful local companies -- Rural Radio and Multiple Access Communications -- have gestated within the group and these are featured below. They continue to sponsor students and actively collaborate with Group members on specific research topics.

Rural Radio
Steve Braithwaite of the Communications Group and Steve Chandler, a PhD graduate of the Department and until recently a staff member of Warwick University, have recently formed Rural Radio Systems Ltd to provide telecommunications services to sparsely populated rural regions. This is the culmination of several years research involving final undergraduate project students and postgraduate students from the Group, many of whom now work for the company.

Digital access Rural Telecommunications system or DaRT is a low cost radio telephone system in which each subscriber node, while providing local telephone connection, also acts as a routing node for through traffic in the larger network. This makes DaRT networks fully extensible with no wiring or central switching facility. Compliance with all the relevant international standards agreements means that DaRT can be connected to other national and international telecommunications providers to deliver voice, fax or modem data. The development of the system is somewhat unique in that it is a complete telecommunications system engineered by a single small group of people. This has involved engineering power supplies, wireless transceivers, digital encoding/ decoding of speech etc, real-time software design and encompassing the design, implementation and management of a distributed communications network.

It is estimated that three-fifths of the world's population is currently without day-to-day access to a telephone and about one-half of the world's population has never made a phone call. Unfortunately the parts of the world without telecommunications are those least able to afford a wired subscriber system or to buy a mobile phone system ``off the shelf''. This makes DaRT most attractive to places like China and rural Africa, where the company has already had considerable success.

Rural Radio have been contracted to provide 12,000 phones to Nigeria and trials of the system are underway and planned in Malaysia, Brazil and several East African Countries.

Rural Radio continues to research and develop telecommunications systems and knowing that a research project may eventually lead to the development and deployment of a useful product is a strong incentive and a keen motivation.

Rural Radio Systems Ltd
Ariel House
Mill Lane
Alton GU34 2QJ
Tel. +44 (0)1420 544952
Fax. +44 (0) 1420 543070


Multiple Access Communications

Multiple Access Communications Ltd is a privately owned spin-off company of the Communications Group, founded some six years ago by Ray Steele, now a Professor Emeritus of the Department. At that time the Group found its expertise under considerable demand as mobile communications operators' licenses were offered for tender and the mobile communications industry burgeoned in popularity.

The central area expertise of the company is in the design, planning and assessment of radio communications networks in urban areas. This work is enabled by software planning tools that are capable of determining micro-cell structure and site location, network optimisation, frequency planning and interference management.

As teletraffic increases on existing macro-cell networks, the increased demands on the system can be ameliorated by the incorporation of micro-cells and mini-cells into existing systems. This requires precise monitoring of existing teletraffic and accurate modeling of the proposed enhanced system.

Commercial mobile radio is a rapidly changing business with the recent introduction of Wireless Application Protocol, WAP phones, designed to give better access to email and the Internet and the closing of tenders for the new Universally Mobile Telecommunications System UMTS. The company already has experience with the multiple access methods appropriate to UMTS.

The company is also investing substantially in the development of a Bluetooth protocol design. Bluetooth is a specification for wireless connectivity, based on a robust short-range low-cost radio link built into a 9mm x 9mm chip which is used to facilitate connections for wired and wireless communications environments. For example workstations could use this technology to connect to keyboards, printers, fax machines, monitors etc as well as to other workstations in a local ad hoc network arrangement without cables. Bluetooth technology could also connect a laptop to a mobile-phone, again without the need of physical connectors and cables. Higher level applications include notebook/workstation synchronisation, where for instance only the latest copy of a file is current to both laptop and workstation, delivery of in flight, pre-composed, email messages on disembarkation, and generally as a bridge to the internet.

The company does support post-graduate students studying with the Group being conscience that the academic background of the company its staff, and its continued close ties with the Communications Group place the company at the leading edge of mobile
communications technical development.

Visit the web site at or contact :
Mobile Access Communications Ltd
Epsilon House
Science Park
Southampton SO16 7NS
Tel. +44 (0)23 80767808
Fax. +44 (0)23 80760602


University of Southampton: