Bell Labs BLAST Off With New 3G Chips

Lucent’s Bell Labs research arm on Thursday announced the
development of two prototype chips that would allow mobile devices to
receive more than 19 megabits of data per second on 3G networks.

The Murray Hill, N.J.-based telecommunications equipment maker said the new chips
are part of its Bell Labs Layered Space-Time (BLAST) wireless technology.

Lucent, which is working to introduce the multiple input/multiple output
(MIMO) technology for commercial use, said the BLAST chops conform to
industry standards for size and power consumption and passed lab tests to
deliver data on 3G networks at higher speeds.

The fastest third generation (3G) network today offers maximum data transfer
speeds of about 2.5 Megabits per second (Mbps) but Lucent said tests prove
the new chips can allow data delivery at 19.2 Mbps.

Lucent plans to license the chips’ designs to mobile handset, PC card and
other device makers looking to integrate MIMO into future 3G products. It
also plans to deploy the technology on its family of Flexent OneBTS base
stations as part of plans to push commercial implementation.

“The two chips have been tested successfully in four-antenna terminal
configuration that also uses four transmit antennas at the base station.
These chips, one for detecting BLAST signals and the other for decoding
them, are small enough and consume so little power that they could be used
in cell phones or laptop computers with minimal impact on battery life,”
Lucent said.

Bell Labs researchers in Australia and New Jersey designed BLAST, which
splits a single user’s data stream into multiple sub-streams and uses
multiple antennas at the terminal and base stations to transmit the wireless
signals at ultra-high speeds.

“All the sub-streams are transmitted in the same frequency band, so
spectrum is used very efficiently. At the receiver, an array of antennas is
again used to pick up the multiple transmitted sub-streams. Using the
multiple antenna technique, the rate of transmission is increased roughly in
proportion to the number of antennas used to transmit the signal,” the
company explained.

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