Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

The Smart Antenna

How a smart antenna works.

Using a mobile phone in an urban area is like trying to talk to a friend across a crowded room. There’s a lot of interference, and background noise gets in the way of a clear signal. When you’re at a party, you can solve the problem by moving within earshot. With mobile communications, your best bet is a smart antenna.

A smart antenna typically comprises an array of four to 12 antenna elements that transmit and receive signals from a base station. Unlike a traditional antenna that blankets a vast area with a signal, a smart antenna focuses radio energy in the vicinity of users. This reduces interference from other users who are accessing the same tower, and it extends the range of the signal. With less interference, service providers can increase capacity on their portion of the radio spectrum by as much as a factor of 20 (depending on the application), giving more users clearer signals.

Smart antennae are popping up all over Europe and Asia, thanks to companies such as ArrayComm of San Jose, CA. In the United States, however, there is only a smattering of these systems, many of which are the result of an agreement between Metawave Communications, in Redmond, WA, and Verizon Wireless. San Franciscobased Vivato announced plans to market an inexpensive smart antenna, which it claims will extend the range of the Wi-Fi data-transfer standard from a few dozen meters to several kilometers. For now, though, it seems that carriers are reluctant to invest the capital, so it may be a few more years before we’re asking, “Can you download me now?”

This story is part of our February 2003 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Premium.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look: exclusive early access to important stories, before they’re available to anyone else

    Insider Conversations: listen in on in-depth calls between our editors and today’s thought leaders

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.