Faculty at FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing are at the forefront of developing technology that would enable smartphones to connect directly to satellites, allowing for high-speed internet access without the need for cell towers or communication bases. This research project is being funded by Digital Locations, an innovative satellite communications company.
The technology being developed has the potential to benefit various groups of people. For residents in rural areas, it could provide consistent high-speed internet access. Passengers on a cruise ship would be able to make video calls from the open ocean using their smartphones. In the aftermath of a hurricane, this technology could help residents in a damaged city maintain high-speed communications when cell towers are affected.
According to co-principal investigator Arjuna Madanayake, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, the radio spectrum is considered one of the most valuable natural resources in the world. The hope is to create groundbreaking technology that would offer extensive capacity and global access.
FIU’s pursuit involves enabling direct satellite to smartphone connections using existing devices and potentially current satellite constellations. This has proven to be a significant challenge in the industry, requiring breakthroughs in circuitry, antenna design, and frequency choices, areas in which FIU possesses specific expertise.
Elias Alwan, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and the principal investigator for the grant, is an expert in wireless radios, having received over $14 million in research grants and being recognized as a National Science Foundation Career Awardee. Madanayake, who is also a co-principal investigator, is known for his expertise in digital radio design and has received grants from government agencies and the National Science Foundation.
The College of Engineering and Computing at FIU boasts a well-equipped lab dedicated to radio frequency systems research. With optimism and excitement, the research team looks forward to making a significant contribution to the telecommunications industry with this project.