New bandwidth could mean fewer dropped calls
A professor at the University of Texas at Arlington has developed a method for reducing the number of dropped calls in any given area.
Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 03:00 PM
If you've owned a cell phone for any significant period of time, you're probably familiar with dropped calls, no-service messages and downloads that make that old dial-up modem seem positively rapid by comparison.
Even though cell phones themselves are better than ever, call quality and reliability are not much more advanced now than they were 10 years ago. Not only are there more cell phone users today, but they also employ their phones for much more than simple calls.
Between calling, texting and Internet use, bandwidth can be scarce. Qilian Liang, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, has developed a method for reducing the number of dropped calls in any given area.
Currently, cellphone networks direct calls in a rather haphazard fashion: Calls generally route through the most easily accessible parts of a network. If the available bandwidth becomes clogged, the only real solution is to wait it out.
In contrast, Liang's method utilizes a system that finds specific segments of bandwidth for calls rather than randomly assigning them, as wireless providers do now. "We've discovered that only a portion of the spectrum is being used," said Liang in a statement. "If you tell the signal where to go, that person can get service and the spectrum is then able to accommodate more users."
In essence, Liang's system dynamically identifies the most reliable space for a call and hosts it there.
Furthermore, Liang believes that major providers such as AT&T and Verizon are already in a good position to implement some of his ideas. While the technology for directing calls into specific bandwidth segments does not yet exist, Liang suggests that the companies could implement a process of elimination. This way, a call could find a free channel rather than competing for diminishing space. [See also: The Top 10 Threats to Your Smartphone]
While Liang's research focused on reducing dropped calls, his principles have the potential to improve a multitude of mobile applications. If wireless providers implement his plans, users could send and receive texts more quickly. Mobile Internet could also run with less delay, which would be great news for people tired of watching photos come into focus very slowly or spending more time watching a buffering screen than the cat video that was loading.
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