In today’s world, there’s one area of technology that can almost never be fast enough: the wireless networks that power our mobile devices.
Despite decades of advancements, we still lose signal when walking around in a big city like New York or San Francisco.
Or when attending a popular sporting event — individual towers just can’t handle thousands of people trying to move data at once.
But a hot startup with some major engineering talent is hoping to change all of that.
Founded in 2011, Artemis is a startup working on pCell, a new wireless standard that it thinks could leapfrog 4G altogether.
Like any new, potentially disruptive technology, pCell has a ton of hype and uncertainty around it. We’ve put together the following guide to pCell for those who want to know more without any of the confusion or tricky marketing language.
What is pCell?
Cell towers as we know them today can be visualized as giant umbrella tops. You deploy them, and they broadcast a bubble of reception that gets weaker as you get farther away. They have to be far enough away from each other so as to not cause interference, but close enough together that you can move between their areas of coverage and still have cell service. If you have too many people in one place, their data use can bog down a tower for everyone.
Artemis’ technology takes a very different direction. Rather than carefully spacing out a relatively small number of towers, Artemis wants to deploy a massive number of boxes the size of routers — called “pWaves” — that will provide much better service to a much smaller area.
Rather than working against interference, pCell embraces the collision of radio waves. By combining the incoming signals from several of the pWave base stations, each pCell user is given the equivalent of their own “personal cell” (hence the name) — which basically means getting full bars of LTE at all times becomes the new standard, while “good” signal strength means getting a signal that’s as much as 1,000 times faster than what we’re all used to.
How is pCell better than 4G or LTE?
Besides speed and signal strength, it uses a lot less power. pWave radios use a 1-milliwatt transmitter to deliver data, compared with the 250 milliwatts used by most Wi-Fi radios and even larger amounts of power used by cellular towers…. see more