With input from multiple Boston-area experts, the Federal Communications Commission formally proposed two major moves in mid-December designed to shoehorn more wireless services into the finite supply of radio frequency spectrum.
Using so-called “small cells” - akin to Wi-Fi access points but applied to mobile phone networks - carriers could cover everything from homes to hospitals. The FCC estimates 10 small cells in place of a single macro cell could result in an accompanying 10-fold increase in capacity, while using the same quantity of wireless spectrum.
Meanwhile, under a concept called spectrum sharing, mobile devices could query databases to find specific frequencies to establish wireless connections. That could reduce the need to reserve wide moats of spectrum for specific purposes, and possibly lead to an operating model of parsing out spectrum on a leased basis for short spans of time.
If adopted, that FCC proposal could result in a “super Wi-Fi” platform of sorts, in which devices determine their location, query for permissible frequencies there, then automatically adjust to those frequencies.
In Westford, Movik Networks Inc. won a spot on the Wall Street Journal’s annual list of the 50 most-promising startups with its platform for dynamically-apportioning bandwidth in mobile networks.
Movik Networks Inc. CEO John St. Armand saw his company win a spot on
the Wall Street Journalâs annual list of the 50 most-promising startups with its platform for
dynamically-apportioning bandwidth in mobile networks.
Courtesy | Movik
Today’s smartphones use 35 times as much mobile bandwidth as traditional cell phones, according to the FCC, and tablets gobble up more than triple that amount.
Tom Johnson, general manager of the Norwell network services company BCS Call Processing, says he’s seeing greater use of Wi-Fi phones as well in area businesses.
“Instead of having a phone at your desk, you have one on your hip,” Johnson said. “And it’s not a cell phone, it’s a Wi-Fi phone that has all the features of a desk phone – the extensions and voice mail and access to all the functionality you’d expect from a regular phone ... When we set these things up, we make sure that they get first dibs on any bandwidth that’s available.”
Along with immigration and patent reform, wireless spectrum is among the big policy issues to be studied at the International CES show next month in Las Vegas, traditionally the launch pad for newfangled consumer electronic devices.
In a 160-page report published this past July, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology examined the issue, with PCAST co-chaired by Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. The committee relied in part on ideas from Vanu Bose, CEO of Cambridge-based Vanu Inc.; and William Lehr, an MIT researcher who is part of the new Wireless@MIT lab, which is working on new architectures for wireless networks and mobile devices.
Vanu Inc. has been designing what it says will be a robust test network for public-safety agencies in the Boston area, with possible extension to the commercial sector.
For his part the past several years, Lehr has explored the feasibility of dynamic spectrum access technologies, for instance “time-limited leases” or sets of rights that expire after a specified duration. Lehr envisions mobile device manufacturers embedding a clock that would disable transmit capabilities if no extension message is received by the end of the lease period.
MIT is developing a prototype wireless network to demonstrate innovations in spectrum usage, mobile connectivity, reliability and security.
Published on Boston Business Journal