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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

How to Feed Data-Hungry Mobile Devices? ­se More Antennas

Argos antenna array

Argos' 64 white-disk antennae provide a power gain and a multiplexing gain that increases network capacity and energy efficiency.

Credit: Rice University

Rice University researchers recently unveiled Argos, a multi-antenna technology that could help wireless providers keep up with the demands of data-hungry smartphones and tablets. The technology aims to increase network capacity by enabling cell towers to simultaneously beam signals to more than 12 customers on the same frequency.

Rice researchers developed a prototype with 64 antennas that enables one wireless base station to simultaneously communicate directly to 15 users using narrowly focused directional beams. "The key is to have many antennas, because the more antennas you have, the more users you can serve," says Rice professor Lin Zhong.

Before Argos, many researchers struggled to develop prototype test beds with just a few antennas. "There are all kinds of technical challenges related to synchronization, computational requirements, scaling up, and wireless standards," Zhong notes. The Argos prototype was developed with Rice-developed software and off-the-shelf hardware. "In Argos' case, we need only about one-sixty-fourth as much energy to serve those 15 users as you would need with a traditional antenna," says Rice researcher Clayton Shepard.

From Rice University
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