A new type of wireless antenna may soon spell the end of sluggish data connections and endless video buffering. Created by Artemis Networks’ Steve Perlman, the technology, called pCell, is a new take on the standard cellular antenna, and it could put an end to your connectivity woes. Unlike normal cell sites that try to avoid interfering with each other, pCells use a larger number of small sites to combine their signals and provide users with the maximum network bandwidth offered by their cellular connection.
Why does this matter? According to Perlman, pCells should eliminate a network clog caused by having too many users in one particular area. Near our offices in midtown Manhattan, for example, Verizon has been struggling with an overabundance of customers pulling down data from the same cell sites. As a result, LTE Web speeds have dropped to sub-3G speeds. With pCells, however, Perlman says every user will get the best connection available.
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That means you could stream 4K video to your phone without having to wait forever for it to buffer. During a lab demonstration, Perlman streamed 1080p videos on eight iPhones at the same time from the same pCell without issue. What’s more, Perlman says pCell technology is fully compatible with current generation LTE devices, meaning that your iPhone 5s or Galaxy S4 can take advantage of the enhanced connectivity right out of the box. Artemis Networks also claims that users will seamlessly transition from a pCell site to a standard LTE site, so you won’t see any drop in connectivity while driving.
With the explosion of mobile data use, and available spectrum hitting its peak, a technology like pCell couldn’t come at a better time. According to the Artemis Networks, mobile data usage per cell site will grow 1250 percent in 2014, while overall available spectrum will continue to decrease. With pCell, however, the ever-lurking spectrum crunch may have met its match.
Artemis says pCell is currently in trials in San Francisco and could be ready for deployment by the end of 2014. The company says it’s already in talks to license its technology with ISPs and wireless carriers.