New wireless technology could enhance cell phone coverage

Remember the original 900Mhz cordless phones? Remember picking it up to make a call, only to hear the neighbor's conversation instead? Well, that spectrum could soon be in use again, but this time for cell phones.

According to Technology Review, a company called xG Technology is running a trial in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where they are sending voice, text, and data through the spectrum. The current test in Fort Lauderdale is covering a population of roughly 110,000 people and is apparently working well. The company has also just received a contract from the United States Army to run a test at the Fort Bliss base in New Mexico.

The technology could become important due to the fact that we are running out of bandwidth in the licensed spectrum. A year ago, the chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warned of a “spectrum crisis” due to the increasing use of wireless video.

Traditional 900Mhz devices frequently picked up interference with other devices, leading to the aforementioned snooping on your neighbors. The new technology is supposed to be able to send packets in between all of the other chatter on the frequency. According to Rick Rotondo, vice president of xG:

"Where a more conventional radio would see a wall of signals, we are able to put our packets in between them and move around between those gaps. Using that method, we find that even in an urban area, the 900-megahertz band is really only around 15 percent occupied at any time."

Security concerns are not mentioned, but if the devices can provide end-to-end encryption, the technology could be implemented in cell phones to help give the wireless carriers more bandwidth in areas where they need it.

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