If telecommunications startup Artemis has anything to say about it, bulky and costly cell towers like the one pictured here will be a thing of the past. Instead, they are hoping the nation’s cellular providers will buy into their new technology platform, dubbed “pCell” that they believe will revolutionize both network coverage and data speeds. Artemis engineers have designed a small (about the size of a home office router) device that they believe can be cheaply and easily deployed throughout any geography to provide a much more thorough coverage area and up to 1000 times the speed of 4G networks, a technology that carriers are still struggling to deliver to most parts of the country.
What this means for you:
The cell towers in use by cell carriers today are designed to provide large “cells” of service that are shared by all mobile users within the umbrella of coverage provided by the tower. The vagaries and frustrations known to all cell phone users are physically caused by our movement in, out and away from those cells, and how heavily each cell is being used at the time. Conversely, pCells are designed to provide coverage in a form of mesh network, and can use overlapping signals from nearby pCells to amplify the service delivered to each cell phone. On top of this mesh approach is an underlying shift in the network technology: with this new platform, each cell phone is granted its own “cell” of data services rather than having to share one large cell provided by a central tower. According to Artemis, this will result in much greater efficiencies in data transmissions, improving voice and video quality and speeding up our uploads and downloads.
Artemis is preparing to launch the technology in the fourth quarter of this year. If the technology lives up to the hype, it could finally help deliver on the promise that smartphones first offered to us years ago, but stumbled on delivering mainly because of slow network speeds and spotty mobile network coverage. We can only hope that the carriers see that by providing faster speeds and better coverage they are investing wisely in their own sustainability, and we can move one step closer to a ubiquitous and instantaneous data network literally at our fingertips.
Image courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the once-dominant BlackBerry platform, has announced the launch date of its BlackBerry 10 phones to be January 30 by all the major US carriers except Sprint, who has promised a BB10 phone later in the year. Many analysts believe that this launch is the last-ditch effort by RIM to regain relevance in an industry dominated by iPhone and Android devices, and just as many have already counted them out.
What this means for you:
If you are one of the dwindling BlackBerry faithful, there is a lot to whet your (by now, monstrous) appetite: the new RIM OS modern look and all new code-base (supposedly no carry-over code from older RIM OS’s) will hopefully update BlackBerry’s staid, corporate image. However, the new BB10 phones have multiple strikes against them:
- Developers for the “staple” apps (Facebook, Google, Netflix, etc) will undoubtedly develop versions of their omnipresent apps because they can fund the development off the backs of their profitable iOS and Android counterparts, but don’t expect surprise hits from indie developers appearing on BB10 first – there just isn’t a large enough userbase to warrant the investment gamble. RIM has sponsored some recent events to kickstart development, but proof will be in whether BB10’s launch will be a repeat of Microsoft’s Windows Phone lackluster debut.
- BlackBerry’s current infrastructure has some serious redudancy flaws that has led to some titanic outages. Once viewed as the most reliable platform in the early days of smartphones, the series of recent, widespread outages has severely tarnished RIM’s image.
- RIM has been lapped by Apple and Google, OS-wise, at least 2 to 3 times now. RIM is just launching a competitor to phone OS’s that were developed years ago. Unless this horse can fly, there is no way BB10 is catching iOS6 or Jelly Bean in this race.
I suspect that RIM isn’t quite done – they still have a nice chunk of the market, but they aren’t going to supplant iPhones or Androids anytime soon.