Is pCell the Holy Grail of wireless networking?

“Serial entrepreneur Steve Perlman claims that his new patented technology can create the wireless network of our dreams,” Dan Farber reports for CNET.

“His invention, pCell, theoretically delivers on the long-sought dream of ubiquitous, fast Internet, with the reliability and consistency previously only achievable through a wired connection,” Farber reports. “pCell is ‘effectively mobile fiber,’ he announced in a press release for his new company, Artemis Networks.”

“pCell, which stands for ‘personal cell,’ exploits interference rather than avoiding it as in conventional wireless networks,” Farber reports. “Instead of avoiding interference, pCell technology embraces it, combining radio signals transmitted from multiple pCell base stations to synthesize pCells about a centimeter in size around each mobile device. These pCells are like tiny air bubbles that direct a full amount of wireless capacity into a device, amping up its speed. As a result of the personal pCells, users aren’t waiting for their turn and aren’t competing for limited spectrum.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. I and an associate looked into this announcement and the public papers behind it as well as the descriptions of the few demonstrations performed. It simply CANNOT work as described.

      For one thing, the size of the *effective* antennas to get to a “centimeter size” cell for each individual are absolutely huge at typical cell phone distances and frequencies. This does not even take into account the the simple fact that the “system” must continuously recalculate for all interference patterns (taking into account the various media along all the RF transmission paths between the user set and the base station set(s) as the user moves — even if the user ever so slightly moves (remember that “cell” is only a one centimeter sphere, move two centimeters and you’re outside that sphere) the system needs to be recalibrated–live. And, this does not even take into account things like Doppler (which is different for every path) or Doppler shift (which can be even nastier than Doppler itself).

      So, until those guys are forthcoming with A LOT more detail on how their system works, it’s just snake oil.

    2. Agreed. The term ‘woo-woo’ comes to mind.

      Show me the electromagnetic wave detection sensor readouts. Define what physical phenomenon is creating the ‘magic’ 1 cm diameter ‘pCell’ and why it occurs in one specific location in space without ‘adaptation’ applied.

      Another phrase that comes to mind is what we locally call “Toe Knocking”.

      Break out the Ouija board. 😯

      1. He’ll have to prove it, and sounds like he is planning a public demonstration at Columbia University. If it fails, then pay no more attention. If it works, then I guess he knows more than you all who just read an article and looked at a white paper or two.

  1. If it proves to be real, wouldn’t it be great if Apple bought them and used their cash to begin building and bypassing some of the elephants blocking the road to progress. Far too much is being charged for data by wireless carriers. (It’s a long story, but recently a wireless company tried to charge me $80 for 6 MB of data – that is just obscene). It would be great to have a world network where data roaming wasn’t like a visit to a giant-handed proctologist. (A network that would benefit developing nations too)

  2. He needs to improve his communications skills. His gobbledygook was just word salad to me. After reading the source article, I still have no idea technically how his network works.

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