Artemis isn't waiting for 5G standards to work themselves out; it says its technology, pCell, can solve the spectrum crunch right now. But is it too good to be true?

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

February 3, 2015

2 Min Read
Meet the 5G Alternative: pCell

There's a reason the US wireless operators just coughed up $45 billion on spectrum and that 5G is getting so much attention: Operators have a ceaseless need for more capacity in this age of smartphones, tablets and the Internet of Things. (See Hey Big Spenders! AT&T, Dish & VZ Splash Cash on Spectrum and Ericsson Testing 5G Use Cases, CFO Says.)

If you need further proof, look to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s venerable Visual Networking Index (VNI) released today, citing that mobile users across the globe cannot get enough of data, with 2.5 exabytes being consumed per month in 2014, a number Cisco expects to rise to 25 exabytes per month in 2019. An exabyte is one billion gigabytes or, in layman's terms, a butt-load of data. (See Cisco's Visual Networking Index and Cisco's VNI Shines Light on Mobile Offload.)

I recently spoke with the CEO of an interesting startup that's not waiting for 5G standards to be fleshed out, nor even hitching his technology to the 5G hype-wagon. He's promising a solution to the spectrum crunch that is readily available today. The company is Artemis, and the technology is pCell, a centralized-radio access network (C-RAN) architecture Steve Perlman invented to use cell signal interference to bring high-power signals to individual mobile users.

Read more about pCell and other innovations in the industry in the Prime Reading feature section here on Light Reading.

The company isn't new -- it launched its product with a big PR splash last year, and it's been working on the technology a decade longer than that. But Perlman says it's finishing trials and testing now and gearing up for actual deployments. He attributes the lag time to getting over the credibility hump.

Indeed, the startup has had a tough time convincing operators that its technology works as advertised, bringing 25 times performance improvement from the same spectrum and the same devices they're already using for LTE, without increasing costs substantially. He says that operators still can't wrap their heads around it even when he shows them the technology working in front of their own eyes.

Analysts we spoke with shared the operators' disbelief and added their own concerns about standards, scalability and working in the real world. The proof will be in the deployments that Perlman says are coming this year.

In the meantime, read up on pCell in our Prime Reading feature section here on Light Reading to learn more about the technology, the promise and the challenges and to judge for yourself whether pCell is too good to be true or the magic bullet operators have been searching for. (See pCell Promises to Fix Spectrum Crunch Now.)

— Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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