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Five bars everywhere - cell coverage that follows you, rather than chasing a map

Posted: , by Maxwell R.

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Five bars everywhere - cell coverage that follows you, rather than chasing a map
Imagine your own personal cell phone signal, coverage that follows you wherever you go. Even better, imagine that it is about 1,000-times faster than the connectivity you have now because you do not have to share the signal with anyone else.

That is the big idea of Steve Perlman. Perlman has made fame by selling his web-TV company to Microsoft (what became MSN TV) for a few buckets of cash, he also helped develop QuickTime. Now he is working on a technology that he calls pCell (personal cell).

pCell is a “complete rewrite of the wireless rulebook,” according to Perlman. It is not vaporware either, the first test of this “moon shot” (his words) is expected to be later this year. If the idea works though, believe it or not, it may still be a challenge to get the big carriers on board with the idea. 

It comes down to money and basic economics. It is called “scarcity” and when a commodity is scarce, it is worth something. You know, stuff like gold, silver, oil…data. The rate plans we pay today with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, et al, are based on the notion that data capacity is scarce, so we pay for it (like the share plans with AT&T and Verizon).

pCell technology would involve a whole new set of antennas and putting new SIM cards in our mobile devices, but basically it allows and takes advantage of overlapping coverage and signal conflict. The way things work now, there cannot be too much overlap or the signaling actually degrades. This new method that Perlman is working on actually optimizes what is currently a liability and creates an ultra high-performance signal.

Steve Perlman is behind what could become a major disruptive way to enhance wireless coverage and performance beyond current comprehension

Steve Perlman is behind what could become a major disruptive way to enhance wireless coverage and performance beyond current comprehension

At a demonstration he provided in San Francisco last week, he showed a select group of people a seamless stream of ultra-HD 4K video across multiple, large flat screens. Perlman claims that if AT&T were to light this up in San Francisco, a person could go anywhere in the city, have 5-bars of signal, and stream HD video all day long.

Perlman has been in discussions with several of the large carriers about pCell, and while it would still be considered a massive capital expense, proper planning could turn scarcity on its head.  If the right people see the upside to this idea, this could be the next big upheaval in the wireless industry.

We are perfectly okay with that.

source: Wired

8 Comments
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posted on 21 Feb 2014, 02:31 3

1. Tsepz_GP (Posts: 664; Member since: 12 Apr 2012)


Incredible, wishing him all the best, I hope the carriers do take this up. This would be one of the biggest if not the biggest advancement in tech in the 21st century if successfully implemented.

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 02:54

2. srk_srinivas (Posts: 21; Member since: 27 Dec 2010)


Grate Idea, must be implemented.

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 03:04

3. kaikuheadhunterz (Posts: 613; Member since: 18 Jul 2013)


It would be unwise not to take this up. Better coverage = happy customers = more data usage = higher bills = more money

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 03:28 2

4. tedkord (Posts: 3914; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Not going to happen in the US. The "scarcity" of data is the excuse the big carriers use to cap data and make it expensive. If it's not scarce, prices will be driven down and so will revenues and profits.

Maybe T-Mo or Sprint, but I didn't think they have the money to rebuild their networks.

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 08:44

6. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5281; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Streaming 4K video would create a new marketplace need/requirement. The current network architecture would be on its knees trying to support 4K video streaming for even a few users.

I could see VZW doing pCell as the next move in the evolution of its network.

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 03:50

5. sriuslywtf (Posts: 62; Member since: 09 Jul 2013)


I guess with this "Personal Signal" there will be no scarcity.

Does this mean it needs 1 signal bandwidth : 1 Cell phone ratio?

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 10:43

7. serrano989 (Posts: 13; Member since: 02 Apr 2012)


I still feel if a Verizon or At&t got ahold of this, they would still charge for it and NEVER give us the full bandwidth. This would at least give you 100% of your speed, but we will have to pay big time for faster speeds.

posted on 21 Feb 2014, 11:34

8. nak1017 (Posts: 328; Member since: 08 Jan 2010)


It looks like it's just some MIMO work with pico-cells...
I hope so since it looked promising when other manufacturers brought proposed it. If it gets traction, it would make a huge a difference in coverage

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