pCell is a new wireless technology that could eliminate the idea of dropping bars in cities and at big gatherings like conferences or sporting events.
That would mean that for many people, cell service would be reliable enough to replace their home broadband entirely.
You’d think that this technology would be coming from some big tech infrastructure giant or one of the cell phone carriers.
Instead, it turns out a small startup founded just three years ago has the right people to, as it claims, “reinvent wireless.”
Based in Palo Alto, Calif., the engineers at Artemis Research have created a technology that would leapfrog 4G wireless as we know it today. Here’s how it works:
This is a pWave. Think of it as a cell tower, but the size of a Wi-fi router. They use a lot less power, and can be put just about anywhere.
On the left, we have the ideal layout of cell towers. They’re spaced far enough apart to not interfere with each other but close enough together so that you don’t lose service in between them. In the middle, we have what actual layouts look like in the real world. Coverage isn’t exactly complete.
Artemis designed its pWaves to take advantage of colliding radio waves, rather than avoiding it. Since they’re small enough to put basically anywhere, Artemis can essentially blanket an entire city with them.
The software behind it all combines the radio waves coming at you from nearby pWaves to give you the equivalent of your own personal cell tower — hence the name, “pCell.” Rather than sharing a single tower with those nearby, you’ll have what feels like a maximum capacity tower all to yourself.
To make adoption look as appealing as possible for potential partners — think cell phone carriers or even Google and/or Apple — Artemis designed pCell to work with existing LTE devices. You’ll be able to work all day in an area with pCell service and fall back to regular 4G when you leave for places where it hasn’t been deployed yet.
The first users to get to try out pCell service will be in San Francisco, where Artemis is working with a still-unnamed wireless partner to demonstrate how pWaves can be deployed at scale for far less than traditional towers.
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