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Capabilities

Overview

As an established company that has been in business for over 30 years MAC Ltd has developed a thorough understanding of all major radio technology standards as well as many lesser-known and proprietary radio technologies. Our experience and technical expertise is extensive, detailed and allows us to assist our customers in many different ways, from developing radio communications equipment and engineering tailored wireless solutions, to providing insight and analysis to inform technology and business decisions, whether those customers are manufacturers, radio network operators, investors, lawyers, researchers or legislators.

MAC Ltd has an established track record of successfully designing products and sub-systems for wireless communications applications. Its development skills are focussed on the application of digital signal processing to wireless physical layer designs, but this encompasses the full range of product development activities from requirements capture, through architectural design, algorithm development and simulation, board layout, software development, regression testing, EMC compliance testing, documentation and training.

In addition MAC Ltd uses its radio knowledge and expertise combined with analysis, modelling and simulation know how to support its customers with the evaluation of competing or emerging technologies (including assessments of the intellectual property contained therein), and applies the same proven techniques to solve all manner of technical issues encountered by customers who design, deploy, operate and use all types of public and private radio communications systems.

Hardware

To complement its experience in systems and software design and development MAC Ltd’s engineering team has experience in developing board level modules and complete products, incorporating radio frequency (RF) and advanced digital signal processing (DSP) elements using field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and DSP components.

Whether your goal is to develop a prototype system to investigate the feasibility of a new idea or to develop a production ready product, we have the skills to conduct the whole design process from initial requirements capture and specification, through circuit and PCB design to production and testing of the end product.

For product assembly we work with a number of contract electronic manufacturers to provide its customers with a complete end-to-end solution.

We can deliver working prototypes and complete production documentation to ease the transfer to your own production facilities.

Alternatively we will be happy to quote for delivery of production quantities of tested and ready to install equipment.

Technical evaluations

The mobile communications industry is always alive with a vast array of new ideas and technologies, and organisations are constantly trying to identify and invest in successful technologies that provide them with a clear benefit, whilst avoiding technologies that lead only to disappointment and failure. However, it is not always easy to cut through the marketing hype and spot the promising technologies.

We have a strong track record of assisting organisations to understand the benefits and drawbacks of new technologies in the context of their own businesses. We have a thorough and fundamental understanding of the concepts on which new technologies are based and a proven ability to assess the validity of claims made by equipment vendors. We can perform complex computer simulations at both a link and system level to examine the fundamental performance of a new technology and the benefits it may bring as part of a network.

Our experience in technical evaluations extends from satellite systems, through cellular and mobile broadband systems, down to localised technologies such as ultra wideband (UWB). So if you need to cut through the hype and really understand the impact and performance of a new technology, we have the skills and capabilities to help.

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) has become a major issue in the mobile communications industry, particularly with the advent of global standards, such as GSM. Such systems emerge based on thousands of man-hours of research and development effort from many different organisations and, as a result, they are built on the IP from an array of different sources.

We have a wealth of experience of assisting organisations to understand the impact and value of specific items of IP. We have performed large scale analyses of patent pools and their essentiality to particular global standards and we have also evaluated the strength of companies' patent portfolios to assess the level of protection they have for their proprietary products.

In the vast majority of cases, organisations involved in the manufacture and supply of mobile communications equipment are able to negotiate cross licensing agreements. These allow them to make use of IP owned by other organisations in their products and also receive licence fees for the use of their IP in other organisations' products. However, on occasion, negotiations break down and it falls to the courts to decide on the validity of a patent and whether it is essential to a particular standard or infringed by a particular piece of equipment.

We have provided expert witnesses in patent disputes, preparing detailed reports and testifying in the High Court in London in cases including Interdigital v Nokia and IP Com v Nokia.

Modelling and simulation

Modern wireless communications equipment and networks are very complex and a range of critical design choices must be made during their development. Getting these choices wrong can lead to expensive re-working of the product or network design as well as costly delays in getting a product or service to market. Therefore, the importance of developing an effective simulation model of a system early in its design cycle to inform such decisions is becoming ever more critical. At MAC Ltd we have extensive experience of helping our customers to make the correct design choices through the development of effective simulation models, both at a link level and a system level.

We have used our link level simulations to assist our customers to understand and compare the performance of different systems in terms of peak data rates, mean throughput and link power budget and to understand the trade-offs between different design approaches. We can model different multiple access, modulation and channel coding schemes and examine the link performance in the face of different types of noise and interference.

At the system level, our simulations have helped our customers to understand the impact of technologies such as microcells, cognitive radio, smart antennas and increased sectorisation on the overall capacity and coverage of their networks.

At MAC Ltd we have the skills and expertise to ensure that you make the right design decisions - first time, every time!

Radio propagation, interference and spectrum

From the outset one of MAC Ltd's key areas of expertise has been the measurement, analysis and modelling of mobile radio propagation for signal and radio channel characterisation, network coverage analysis and verification, planning tool tuning and validation, and interference analysis and mitigation. Building on this experience and expertise MAC Ltd developed the CatchAll™ receiver, which has become the de facto standard for TETRA public safety network verification.

In addition to basic radio propagation analysis in recent times the analysis and modelling of RF interference between the same or dissimilar systems operating as co-frequency or adjacent channel allocations has become increasingly important, particularly as radio spectrum utilisation increases and an increasing number of different types of narrowband and wideband radio systems are used. This has become another key area of expertise, including analysing interference issues to define limits for emissions, the use of direction finding to reveal covert or unlawful transmitters, and engineering practical solutions to real-world interference problems.

Given MAC Ltd's understanding of many aspects of radio network modelling, including teletraffic demand, radio propagation, equipment capabilities, link power budgets and frequency reuse, MAC Ltd is also engaged to work on spectrum valuations, licence applications and network evolution planning, and was recently engaged, eg, to lead the work to assess the existing and future spectrum requirements of a nationwide TETRA network for a successful licence application.

Software

As a consequence of developing and marketing our own software tools for over ten years, MAC Ltd has a proven ability to produce software to rigorous commercial standards.

We design and develop a variety of software applications and tools for our customers ranging from simulation platforms and graphical user interfaces running on PCs to complex multi-threaded, real-time systems running on the latest signal processing devices.

With our extensive knowledge of the communications domain to back up our coding skills you can be confident that our engineers will produce a well designed and thoroughly tested software solution to meet your requirements.

For complex modelling work, such as that required for detailed physical layer or network-wide simulation, MAC Ltd has a multi-processor computing cluster. Using this resource MAC Ltd is able to significantly reduce the time taken to obtain the desired results.