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Nokia Networks will test super-fast ‘bubbles’ of connectivity in stadiums and public places

Early last year, Steve Perlman — the co-creator of Apple's QuickTime technology who went on to found video game streaming service OnLive — claimed he had a way of providing wireless speeds 1,000 times faster than those we use today. His new company, Artemis Networks, called its new wireless technology pWave. Wireless antennas using the technology, the company said, would be able to create small "bubbles" of connectivity around smartphones, tablets, and other devices that would eliminate the need for people to share bandwidth, and speed up internet connections dramatically in crowded spaces.

Now, Artemis Research has received its first vote of confidence from the wireless industry. Nokia Networks has signed a "memorandum of understanding" with the startup, agreeing to test the technology in stadiums and similar spaces that require a lot of wireless bandwidth. The "bubbles" that pWave wireless antennas create are called pCells — "personal cells" — and theoretically they will follow smartphones as their owners move around. That makes them ideal for deployment in crowded areas, where normally hundreds or thousands of people share the same cell, and slowing down connection speeds.

The technology gives devices their own "bubble" of connectivity

Hossein Moiin, Nokia Networks' chief technology officer, said that at first, the company didn't believe Perlman's claims. "We took a look at it and said: ‘Eh, it doesn't seem very possible,'" he told Wired. But that skepticism soon changed to interest, and the company decided to trial Artemis' antennas. "We'll put everything together in a real-life setting and see how it scales," Moiin said. "It's a promising technology, and in theory, it should scale." If pCells don't work, Moiin said Nokia Networks is also looking at similar technology coming out of MIT.

So too are big US carriers studying ways to get better wireless connections to customers. Artemis Networks' technology may only be at the testing stage with Nokia Networks, but Perlman says the company is already close to deploying pWave antennas within one "tier-one carrier." For now, though, he chose not to specify which one.