Tuesday, 24 February 2015 17:00

VIDEO: pCells deliver 35x LTE spectral efficiency, is Telstra’s Andrew Penn reading?


Telstra loves to launch the fastest first, so I wonder if Telstra’s new CEO, Andrew Penn, is interested in 35x LTE spectral efficiency from Artemis Networks?

With the MWC ‘Mobile World Congress’ starting in a few days time in Barcelona, and the 5G World Alliance launching then too, Artemis Networks has taken the perfect moment to set the pCell cat amongst the LTE and 5G pigeons.

That’s because Artemis has announced its pCell technology has achieved 35X LTE spectral efficiency, with much, much more possible according to Artemis, along with a 99-page pCell White Paper detailing how it has achieved this ‘record-shattering performance’, which you can read in full at this PDF link

Artemis notes that ‘pCell is a new approach to wireless that indoor testing has demonstrated delivering full-speed mobile data to every mobile device concurrently, regardless of how many users are sharing the same spectrum, thus achieving greater capacity than conventional LTE.’

Indeed, we also finally get the news that the first pCell service will be deployed in San Francisco, 'subject to FCC approval.’

Artemis explains that, ‘rather than avoiding interference like conventional wireless technologies, pCell technology exploits interference, combining interfering radio waves to create an unshared personal cell (a “pCell”) for each LTE device, providing the full wireless capacity to each user at once, even at extremely high user density.’

Providing it’s all real, which I am readily believing thanks to the various videos Artemis and Steve Perlman produced last year, its latest video and its new white paper, it reminds me of Australia’s biggest telco, Telstra, and a TV commercial it had in the 1980s (from memory) with the line ‘Why didn’t you call, Chuckie?’.

It featured an Australian asking his American friend, Chuckie, why he didn’t call, and was either designed to encourage greater use of the phone system, or possibly international or the earliest of mobile calling, but it was so long ago I can’t remember precise details.

I can’t find any reference to this TV commercial anywhere on the Internet save for an article I wrote in early December 2012 about Telstra’s 3G network in CBD areas slowing down a lot, so I have to be self-referential on this one.

Because I am believing in Artemis Network’s pCell technology being real, and being part of the future that has already been invented but simply not widely distributed yet, it makes me think of Australia’s No.2 and No.3 telcos, Optus and Vodafone, calling Artemis Networks first, before Telstra.

Should that happen, and should Telstra miss out, Artemis might one day ask Telstra’s Andrew Penn… “Why didn’t you call, Andy”?

But what does 35x LTE Spectral Efficiency look like? How about 200Mbps of connectivity across 16 iPhone 6 Plus devices on 5MHz of LTE spectrum?

Let’s take a look at Steve Perlman’s latest video before we go any further.

Ok, with that video demonstrating the tremendous power of the pCell, let’s take a look at more form the Artemis release.

Atermis says its pCell technology is achieving 35X the spectral efficiency of conventional LTE networks, and has ‘announced thee availability of the Artemis I Hub for trials, to enable mobile operators and venue-owners throughout the world to try out pCell technology for themselves and see what it is like to increase the capacity of spectrum by a factor of 35X or more, using off-the-shelf iPhone, Android and iPad LTE devices.’

The company says ‘the most advanced conventional LTE networks average 1.7 bps/Hz in spectral efficiency’.

However, pCell blows past this with ‘an average of 58 bps/Hz (over 800 Mbps in 20 MHz of spectrum), a 35X leapfrog’.

Artemis Networks is calling this ‘perhaps the largest single capacity advance in the history of wireless.’

Who the heck needs the government-control spectre of Net Neutrality when you can get this kind of performance? No wonder Steve Perlman has been calling it Mobile Fibre.

It makes me wonder whether Australia’s NBN Co (National Broadban Network) CEO Bill Morrow is reading, and whether Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s Federal Minister for Communications is reading this too.

After all, it may well be a case of ’To Morrow, when the NBN war was finally won’ - without ridiculous 10 year timeframes of blowout and delay.

Unless Andrew Penn gets his hands on it first, of course - why let NBN Co get all the spoils when Telstra undoubtedly wants them all for itself - and to share with its customers?

Anyway, Artemis has released its detailed 99-page, comprehensive pCell White Paper, which is linked to above.

The company says it not only details ‘the radical approach to wireless that enables pCell’s breakthrough performance results, but for the first time shares practical details about pCell deployment and operational costs from pCell trial learnings, as well as the first disclosed details of future LTE-spectrum compatible pCell technology, such as multi-gigabit, sub- millisecond latency, low-power mobile supercomputing services for virtual- and augmented-reality headsets.’

Sounds pretty awesome to me. I hope Andrew Penn gets onto it like a bat out of Hellstra.

Artemis also announced that that Dish, a pay TV provider in the US that delivers video via satellite, has licensed some H Block mobile spectrum in San Francisco to Artemis via its wholly-owned subsidiary American H Block Wireless L.L.C.

Subject to FCC approval, Dish will license this spectrum to Artemis for ‘up to two years for the world’s first deployment of pCell wireless technology’.

Once the network is up and running, you can insert your Artemis-provided SIM card into your LTE device, like an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 or any spectrum-compatible Android device.

Your device will then connect to Artemis pCell service as it would to any LTE service, but as Artemis state, ‘unlike cellular LTE service, Artemis expects that pCell will deliver consistently high speed throughout the coverage area, even in very high-density scenarios. If the user needs service outside of San Francisco, they will have the option of subscribing to roaming cellular service, which will be provided through an MVNO.’

In short, pCells are about to become very real, and people like Andrew Penn should be all over it. At the very least Andrew should pencil in some time to learn about it, pending his availability, of course, but if he lets Optus or Vodafone get to it first, Penn’s penalty could well be to miss out.

Who needs Wi-Fi hotspots on phone boxes when you could have pCells? Or when you could have Wi-Fi powered by pCells?

A company called VenueNext is also going to trial pCell in high-density, high traffic venues. VenueNext is the mobile services provider for Levi’s Stadium in the US ‘and other venues throughout the world’, and it is doing this ‘to enable concurrent usage by 10s of thousands of fans of HD video-rich services and high-bandwidth upstreaming of images and HD video.’

John Paul, CEO and Founder of VenueNext said “pCell solves the core challenge for venues in the mobile era: supporting skyrocketing data demand at high user densities.

"We’re excited to trial pCell, to not only provide reliable broadband service to every seat in the house, but to enable a new era of venue applications and services that would not be possible with conventional wireless technology.”

What will be delivering pCell connectivity to these venues is the Artemis I Hub.

Artemis says that it typically takes ‘just a day to set up for testing.’

Everything is going software-defined these days, and pCells are no different - they are ‘a pure software-defined radio (SDR) system’, so as Artemis explains, ‘everything, including a full LTE implementation and baseband processing is implemented in software on just three servers.’

The company explains that its Artemis I Hub ‘connects through coax to up to 32 antennas that can be placed anywhere in the coverage area. Since it is frequency-agile from 600 MHz to 6 GHz, mobile operators and venue owners can test in whatever spectrum is available to them with iOS or Android devices, or with standard LTE test equipment. In 20 MHz of spectrum, the Artemis I Hub achieves over 800 Mbps of consistent throughput to LTE devices in the coverage area, even in densely-packed scenarios.’

Steve Perlman, Artemis founder and CEO says: “35X LTE, Artemis I Hub, pCell White Paper, spectrum lease and VenueNext trials—today is certainly pCell’s coming out party.

“It’s great to see pCell step out into the world with a White Paper detailing how pCell works and is deployed, and to announce availability of the Artemis I Hub, enabling operators and venue owners to give pCell a try for themselves. And, of course, we’re incredibly excited about the partners we’ve announced today who share Artemis’ vision of a future with ubiquitous, reliable high-performance connectivity everywhere.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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