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Dynamic spectrum access is a new spectrum sharing paradigm that allows secondary users to access the abundant spectrum holes or white spaces in the licensed spectrum bands. DSA is a promising technology to alleviate the spectrum scarcity problem and increase spectrum utilization. While DSA has attracted many research efforts recently, in this article, we discuss the challenges of DSA and aim to shed light on its future. We first give an introduction to the state-of- the-art in spectrum sensing and spectrum sharing. Then, we examine the challenges that prevent DSA from major commercial deployment. We believe that, to address these challenges, a new DSA model is critical, where the licensed users cooperate in DSA and hence much more flexible spectrum sharing is possible. Furthermore, the future DSA model should consider the political, social, economic, and technological factors all together, to pave the way for the commercial success of DSA. To support this future DSA model, the future cognitive radio is expected to have additional components and capabilities, to enforce policy, provide incentive and coexistence mechanisms, etc. We call the future cognitive radio with the expanded capabilities a network radio, and discuss its architecture as well as the design issues for future DSA.
Date of Publication: February 2012