pCell Aims To Improve Mobile Internet By Using Interference

As more and more people use smartphones the demand for mobile data also increases. There may even come a time when a mobile network will not be able to handle the huge demand. This is where pCell comes in,  technology developed by Steve Perlman best known for selling WebTV to Microsoft for nearly half a billion dollars and who also founded the OnLive cloud based gaming platform.


pCell, which is short for personal Cell, allows for a better use of the wireless spectrum by taking a different approach in handling mobile internet. Standard cell towers are positioned at certain distances to minimize interference with each other. Each tower then transmits a signal which is picked up by a phone and covers an area between 50 meters to a couple of square miles. Each tower however has a handling capacity so when more phones connect to a specific tower simultaneously there is going to be poor service since the bandwidth gets divided among the number of users.

With pCell this is not the case since it can be placed wherever it is convenient and in fact makes use of interference to its advantage. The base station which resembles a TV antenna can be placed anywhere, on top of the roof or at the side of the building. Whenever the signals of two pCell devices overlap they combine to form a personal cell that moves with an individual as he or she moves around the network. The best part of this is that the signal does not degrade as more people join the network. The overall capacity can be increased simply by adding more pCell devices. In theory, each wireless user will have access to the full bandwidth of the network instead of sharing it.

pcell interference

pcell speed

pCell is based on Distributed-Input-Distributed-Output technology which is a cloud wireless system that is dependent on a DIDO data center. This means that whenever a person would like to view a YouTube video, that video first passes to the pCell data center which will then analyze the optimal waveform for the access point being used by the person before sending it over.

Perlman says that “This is a tubes to transistors breakthrough. We are looking at the problem from a different point of view. If you have 10 or 100 phones taking turns, we are simultaneously using all channels at once. We figured out how to synthesize a tiny bubble around your mobile device.”

via technologyreview

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