When we compare mobile phones we seldom think about the range of recepton the provider offers. This is because most mobile phones are sold in the big population areas within reasonable proximity to a mobile phone tower and good coverage is to be expected from the major network providers. It is another thing altogether when you live out in the bush where the towers are limited. In this case the range of operation becomes very important to your considerations when making comparisons. This is probably the reason why Australian researchers are at the forefront of trying to establish a mobile phone network without being reliant on expensive towers.
New Technology By-Passes Towers
Australia is a vast continent with many areas sparsely populated and it is in these areas where mobile phone signals are impossible to pick up. This becomes a real problem for travellers, as well as people living and working in such areas, and in need of a reliable communication system. For this reason researchers at the Flinders University in South Australia are trialling new technology, which if successful, will solve the often encountered problem of being out of range of a mobile phone tower.
The answer is not in having to compare mobile phones to each other, or their service providers, but by using their already existing Wi-Fi technology. It appears that all mobile phones have a certain Wi-Fi capability even though its distance is limited, but when a developing software can allow individual phones to transmit calls between each other without the need for a tower this connectivity can be spread over a large area.
Software Based on Wi-Fi Capabilities
The team at Flinders University, which is led by Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen, has developed such software which can create this connection. This software is able to detect other mobile phones within its Wi-Fi area and can place calls through each automatically, without the need of an operator, therefore creating its own network, free of the need to construct expensive towers. Put simply, this new software will allow each mobile phone to act as a small cell tower. Each phone will be able to receive and transmit another person’s call until it reaches the desired destination.
At the moment all is OK if there are sufficient mobile phones in the area to give you a reasonable spread but it still has the problem of limitation in the vastness of the outback. The development will have great application however in areas that have been devastated by natural disasters such as cyclones, earthquakes and violent storms that have destroyed previously existing mobile phone towers, but the surviving population still has a vast network of mobile phones from which to create a network.
It is a start and it does show that a future without the need for expensive and unpopular mobile phone towers is possible, in the meantime, the need to compare mobile phones will shift from the provider’s transmission distance to that of its Wi-Fi capabilities.