Wireless technologies come and go, but one thing remains the same: The need for spectral efficiency. Martin Cooper has been harping on that topic since he and his team at Motorola developed the first handheld cellular device. He’s still doesn’t think enough people truly appreciate the problem.
Now in his early 80s, Cooper is still helping to keep the Law of Spectral Efficiency – aka Cooper’s Law – moving forward at its historic pace. He calls himself yesterday’s engineer, but along with his bride, Arlene Harris, entrepreneur and first female inductee into the Wireless Hall of Fame, Cooper is still launching new ventures such as GreatCall, a mobile operator focused on health and safety applications for seniors. And he is advising the Department of Commerce on his favorite topic: Spectral efficiency.
And for you BSS/OSS history buffs out there, Cooper also launched a billing software company in the 1980s with wife Arlene and T-Russell Shields. He sold it to Cincinnati Bell. The billing system at Cincinnati Bell became known as CBIS and when it spun off from the phone company, it eventually became known as Convergys. How about that?
Cooper spoke with B/OSS Editor Tim McElligott this week as he prepared – in the back of his mind at least – for his talk at the Illinois Institute of Technology Real-Time Communications Conference, Oct. 4-6, in Chicago.
B/OSS: What are you working on these days?
Martin Cooper: Everything I have done in my career has to do with wireless one way or another. And the one thing I have been involved in all along is what we call spectral efficiency – how to get more stuff squeezed through a limited amount of spectrum. That’s what we did in the land/mobile business years ago, mostly because we were starved for spectrum. Today it has become a crucial problem and I don’t think anyone yet understands the severity of the problem with not having enough radio channels.
We are only scratching the surface of ways wireless technology and wireless applications are going to change our lives, make us more productive, educate us, entertain us, make us safer and protect our health. And the more apps we use the more spectrum we will use. Cisco estimated we will need 40 times more spectrum in the next 4-5 years — 40 times!