The dream of the single unified wireless standard that was born as part of the 3rd generation project has proven to be unrealistic. Political and market forces have left us in a situation very similar to second generation in terms of the variety of standards to choose from. On top of this the convergence of wireless and data has led to the mixing of two very different technical communities which has added to the variety of solutions being proposed. A third factor is the enormous variety of options the user has in this new world of wireless data, in terms of data rate, Quality of Service (QoS) and mobility.

All these factors have pushed wireless operator and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) business managers into the arms of technical gurus and visionaries who use terms like “reconfigurable” and “software defined” and promise a world where a single radio will be able to cope with almost any scenario possible in a wireless world. In this talk we will cast a bright light on the murky world of reconfiguration and examine why we need it, what can actually be done and how far along the path we have come, as well as how far we should wish to travel.