February 24, 2014

Quest for a standard

Standards are the reason why our phones and Wi-Fi routers of different brands can communicate seamlessly. In this case 802.11x being the accepted standard. However these standards haven’t been here since the birth of the wireless technology. It took a great deal of time to arrive at something most could agree upon. That time is here for underwater networks. There is a pressing need for a standard. Currently interoperability is limited and happens through gateways that will connect different set-ups, so nodes in one network will go through a ‘translator’ to be able to communicate with another network. However this is less than ideal for the long term and peer to peer offers a well-defined evolution as demonstrated by terrestrial wireless systems.

This need for a standard is extensively discussed in the article by Captain Edward H. Lundquist, Proceedings Magazine, February 2014.

To summarize some the key points of the article,The benefits of standardization are well known and widely accepted.

If a common communication system could be established in the underwater domain, the advantages would be immenseDr. Mandar Chitre

Standardisation isn’t all that far off as there is work underway. For instance, JANUS is NATO’s proposed standard for underwater communications.

The simple digital underwater signaling system can be used to contact underwater assets using a common format, announce the presence of an asset to reduce conflicts, and allow node discovery to enable a group of assets to organize themselves into an ad hoc network. It is the first digital underwater coding standard being developed to provide global interoperability in underwater communicationsCMRE research scientist Dr. John Potter

With standardization vendors need not worry about losing competitive edge.

It is necessary to have a basic framework that is standardized while letting technology providers innovate and provide differentiated products that fit within the framework, this would ensure that technology vendors do not lose their competitive edge by agreeing to standards, but instead create a larger market where their products can easily be integrated with other vendors’ products to create systems beyond what is possible today.Dr. Mandar Chitre