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A Practical Approach to Cellular Communications Standards Education

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Computing Technology Applications-II

Tagged Division

Computing and Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Vuk Marojevic Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Vuk Marojevic received his M.S. from the University of Hannover, Germany, and his Ph.D. from the Universidad Politècnica de Catalunya—Barcelona Tech, Spain, both in electrical engineering. He joined Wireless@Virginia Tech in 2013, where he is currently a Research Assistant Professor. His research interests are in software-defined radio, spectrum sharing, 4G/5G cellular technology, wireless testbeds and testing, resource management, wireless security, and engineering education with application to mission-critical networks, vehicular networks, virtualized wireless networks, green communications, the Internet of Things, and unmanned aircraft systems. Dr. Marojevic has been instructor of undergraduate and graduate level classes at the Barcelona Tech and Virginia Tech. He is a member of the IEEE, ACM, and ASEE.

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Antoni Gelonch-Bosch Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

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Antoni Gelonch-Bosch is associate professor at Dept. of Signal Theory and Communications at Barcelona-Tech University from 1997. His research interest has moved along years from the development of suitable hardware platforms for implementing wireless systems, attending real-time processing constraints, to application of Software Radio concept and development of appropriate frameworks to accelerate its development and deployment. Currently, he is focused on addressing the implementation, virtualization and resource management issues of Cloud-RAN systems for 5G.

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Jeffrey Reed Virginia Tech

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Dr. Jeffrey H. Reed is the founder of Wireless @ Virginia Tech, and served as its Director until 2014. He is the Founding Faculty member of the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology and served as its interim Director when founded in 2010. His book, Software Radio: A Modern Approach to Radio Design was published by Prentice Hall and his latest textbook Cellular Communications: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide was published by Wiley-IEEE in 2014. He is co-founder of Cognitive Radio Technologies (CRT), a company commercializing of the cognitive radio technologies; Allied Communications, a company developing spectrum sharing technologies; and for PFP Cybersecurity, a company specializing in security for embedded systems. In 2005, Dr. Reed became Fellow to the IEEE for contributions to software radio and communications signal processing and for leadership in engineering education.

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The cellular communications industry is steadily growing and expanding to solve the needs of governments, businesses and communities. Standards are fundamental to enable cooperation while promoting competition. The companies involved contribute and agree on appropriate technical specifications to ensure diversity, compatibility and facilitate worldwide commercial deployment and evolution. The specifications of cellular communications standards are extensive, complex and intentionally incomplete to spur innovation and differentiation. This makes standards education a difficult endeavor, but it is highly demanded by the wireless industry. This paper describes a practical approach to teaching cellular communications standards. Our methodology leverages software-defined radio technology and uses the abstraction layer and operating environment (ALOE) to provide a practical learning environment that facilitates developing many of the needed technical and soft skills without the inherent difficulty and cost associated with radio frequency components and regulation. We define six learning stages that assimilate the standardization process and identify key learning objectives for each. We discuss our experiences when employing the proposed methodology at Barcelona Tech in Spain, compare the approach with an equivalent class at Virginia Tech in the US and make the following observations: (1) The complexity of standards need to be abstracted and presented in a form suitable for a given class. (2) Educating about cellular communications standards is most effective when students are immersed in the process. (3) Hands-on activities need careful preparation and close guidance.

Marojevic, V., & Gelonch-Bosch, A., & Reed, J. (2018, June), A Practical Approach to Cellular Communications Standards Education Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah.

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