The competition between cell phone companies has always been about who has the best coverage, or who can get your mobile Facebook page on your phone to load the fastest. Well, with recent developments in wireless cell tower technology this competition could get even more heated as companies gravitate to 4g and 5g networks in the next few years. One of these developments occurred at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where researchers believe they have discovered a cost-effective way to double the throughput of cell phone towers.
What is the throughput of cell towers? Throughput refers to the amount of data that can be transferred at one time from one wireless node to another. In other words, it refers to how many cell phones can use a particular cell tower at one time, either to make a phone call or check their email. This means great things for phone companies, as well as their users. With the new development increasing the throughput of cell towers, more people will have the ability to access a cell phone company’s network at one time before the network overloads-which can come in handy for a lot of reasons. For example, if there is an emergency situation in a hospital or school, more people within the building can make their outgoing phone calls to arrange pickup or contact their loved ones. Regardless of the situation, when a large volume of outgoing cell phone calls are made during an emergency situation, a cell tower covering that particular area will commonly experience an overload-preventing peoples’ calls from getting through.
So how exactly does this new technology work? The researchers at Rice University basically took an existing technology called MIMO, which stands for multiple-input and multiple-output, and applied it to cell towers. The idea with MIMO is to increase the number of antennas on a given device, allowing the device to receive and transmit more data. For increasing the amount of data between cell phones and cell towers, more antennas are simply added to cell towers to increase throughput. However, the researchers at Rice did not stop there. In order to increase the efficiency of MIMO, they achieved asynchronous full-duplex-allowing wireless nodes to receive as well as transmit a signal and therefore maximize the amount of traffic allowed on a network. With this unique development, cell phone service providers are paying close attention to activities going on at the research center in Rice University.
As the major phone companies reach 4g and 5g capability, technological breakthroughs such as the one made at Rice University will increase the competition and allow many of the cell companies to grow even larger. In hindsight, these improvements are great for the consumer as well, providing a better experience for cell users in years to come.