Friday, June 17, 2011

Video: OnLive CEO unveils the wireless technology of the future; 100x capacity, no more cell towers

Not happy with just showing us the future of video gaming and web browsing, OnLive CEO Steve Perlman also wants to shake up the wireless industry. During a presentation at Columbia University, Steve revealed an “entirely new approach to wireless.” His company, Rearden, has been working on a new wireless technology that’s miles ahead of everything out there today.

Steve starts by describing the fundamental problem wireless networks face today. Basically, there’s a limit to the amount of data that can be transmitted over a certain spectrum. If you’ve ever tried to send a text or call someone in a very crowded place, you already know what I’m talking about. There’s just not enough capacity for everybody to use at the same time. This limit is described by Shannon’s Law, which you can read more about here if you like.

That’s where Rearden’s new wireless technology comes in. Sadly, this wireless technology is incompatible with anything that is used today. So we can forget about using it with our “Droids” any time soon. The technology uses new radios and antennas that are simpler, cheaper and use less processing power than today’s wireless radios. Hopefully, this means we’ll no longer have to choose between 4G speeds and battery life.

Steve and his company have been trying to find a limit to the amount of data they can transmit using this technology, but so far they haven’t been able to do so. They’ve already tested the technology with 10 times the capacity of Shannon’s Law, but theoretically, they could transmit up to 1000 times the capacity. What does this mean? No more dead zones, no more dropped calls, no congestion and faster speeds than today’s wired connections.

Better latency is another huge advantage of this magical wireless technology. There’s a sub-millisecond latency in a 1- to 2-mile connection, and a 2-millisecond latency in a 30-mile one. However, Steve said they could possibly take it all the way to a distance of 250 miles. Think about that for a second. With only one antenna needed per city, or even state, this technology could very well kill cell towers forever.

If you watched OnLive’s presentation at E3, then you know Steve is truly a man of vision. But why would the CEO of a cloud gaming company go into the wireless business? It’s pretty simple, really. OnLive’s gaming service is about to take off in the mobile space. The company has big plans for Android tablets and phones. But none of that will work without a robust wireless network powering those devices. Seeing how Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T are all walking in the opposite direction with their tiered data plans, you’ll be hard-pressed to find somebody willing to pay $80/month just to be able to use OnLive on their Droids.

That’s basically why Steve and Rearden are working on this revolutionary new wireless technology. Could we see OnLive get into the ISP business in the future? It’s possible. But more importantly, could Google become so interested in this that it would acquire OnLive? A guy can dream. Embedded below is Steve’s whole presentation, but the good part starts at around 55:12.