Two Decades of Innovation

The Software Communications Architecture: two decades of software radio technology innovation
Claude Belisle, Vince Kovarik, Lee Pucker,  Mark Turner

Keywords: Computer architectureSoftware radioSoftware architectureTechnological innovationWireless communicationUS Department of Defense 


What began more than 20 years ago as a U.S. Department of Defense project aimed at implementing a radio system that could be reprogrammed on the fly to support multiple waveforms has evolved to become a widely adopted, versatile, and industry-changing architecture. The resulting Software Communication Architecture has now been deployed in more than 400,000 radios worldwide. This article explores the evolution of the SCA starting with its origins back in the SPEAKEasy Program to the upcoming release of SCA 4.1.


The Software Communications Architecture (SCA) is an implementation-independent architectural framework that specifies a standardized infrastructure for a software defined radio (SDR). Initially developed and published by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the SCA is maintained by the Joint Tactical Networking Center (JTNC) in collaboration with various industry partners and organizations, such as the Wireless Innovation Forum [1]. The specification has significantly influenced the evolution of the SDR domain, and its concepts have been used within multiple industries, products, and countries worldwide as depicted in Fig. 1 [2].

Published in: IEEE Communications Magazine Volume: 53Issue: 9, September 2015 ) 


Claude Belisle is chief executive officer of Nordiasoft. He graduated in 1983 from the Royal Military College of Canada in engineering physics and obtained, in 1985, an M.Sc. in physics with a specialty in optical systems. Over his 28-year career in research and development at Defence R&D Canada and Communications Research Centre, he has been involved in a wide range of technologies, from microwave-photonics, communications networks, software defined radios, to satellite communications.
Vince Kovarik has more than 30 years in systems and software development. He has been involved in software defined radio technology development for the last decade. As a member of the Modular Software Radio Consortium, he worked on the initial version of the Software Communications Architecture. He was the product manager for the Domain Management ToolKit (dmTK), a commercial off-the-shelf product that implemented the SCA, first available in 2000.
Lee Pucker is chief executive officer of the Wireless Innovation Forum. He has more than 25 years of experience in the development, management, marketing, and production of embedded signal processing and advanced wireless systems in organizations that include spectrum signal Processing, ITT industries, and Computer Sciences Corporation. He is the named inventor on multiple patents and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, a Master of Science degree from Johns Hopkins University and is Pragmatic Marketing Certified.
Mark Turner has more than 33 years of experience in the software engineering and radio communications industries. He has been responsible for the design and engineering of multiple military radio and high-grade security products for U.S. domestic and international markets, including development and delivery of solutions for SCA-based requirements. He has been the author and presenter of more than 40 technical papers and presentations on embedded software development, software defined radio, cognitive radio, the SCA, and programmable security.


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