Vehicular Small Cells
Ever get a crappy cell connection inside your vehicle? I can’t complain I do, but BMW (ETR:BMW) argues that strong signal-shielding effect of the vehicle body can cause reception problem inside your car. To solve that, they’ve started a research project on vehicular small cell in partnership with network specialists Nash Technologies GmbH and automotive parts supplier Peiker Acustic GmbH & Co. KG.
Before jumping on how exactly they’re looking to solve the signal shielding effect, I’ll explain briefly what are small cells. In layman terms, small cell is a low-power wireless antenna. They’re usually used to offload 3G signals from the macro cell (huge cell phone tower you see everywhere).
Unlike huge macro cells, small cells don’t require large base station and can be put inside the buildings to boost the cellular signals in dead zones. Small cells have different names depending on their size: femto, pico and microcell. Pico and microcells are usually deployed and controlled by the service provider while femto cell can be managed by end users.
In BMW’s case, they’re looking to embed femtocell inside their vehicle. If this research is successful, we’ll be seeing future BMW cars capturing the cell signals with its aerial connection and creating a hot-spot inside your car. This is not bad given you’re using multiple mobile devices inside your car including the vehicle’s onboard computing system to stream Pandora (NYSE: P) or other infotainment apps. The other key selling point for BMW is that their femtocell has “lower health risk” compared to radiation emitted from a normal cell signal.