Artemis completes large scale pCell field trial in Times Square

Trials pCell Urban tech with Boldyn Networks. Says Boldyn ready to take the tech worldwide.

Artemis, the company that has marketed personal cell (pCell) technology for the past decade, has announced completion of a three month field trial in Times Square, New York, along with neutral host wireless infrastructure Boldyn Networks. 

Artemis CEO and Founder Steve Perlman said that Boldyn is now set to roll out Artemis technology globally. 

“We’ve been working with Boldyn for over 18 months as they’ve been vetting pCell in a range of deployment scenarios. [Boldyn] is announcing it is the highest performance mobile network in the world, and also reporting their technicians were stunned by the rapid install, taking less than an hour per radiohead site, instead of days, and the pCell system is a fraction of the cost of conventional 5G gear.

“In addition to New York City streets and subways, they will be installing pCell throughout the US and worldwide. This completely changes the performance and economics of city-scale mobile deployments at street level and in subways.”

Perlman added that pCell Urban (its name for this high-density macro version of pCell) was specifically deployed with new streaming head-wearables in mind.

“When these devices become mainstream and people are walking around streaming 4K 3D, it will overwhelm 4G/5G networks. pCell Urban will not only easily handle the load, it will maintain much lower latency than conventional 5G.”

The trial set-up

At 49th & Broadway, Boldyn and Artemis deployed six radiohead sites, with each site composed of eight radios and antennas. On the ground, 128 test smartphones were simultaneously connected to the network. Artemis said that the trial network delivered 700 Mbps in 20 MHz of 3.5 GHz spectrum to those 128 phones simultaneously – a huge uplift on conventional 5G in 20 Mhz of spectrum – and more than many operators can offer by combining multiple carriers.

Nearby, another installation was taking place in the 49th St subway station. Here, six sites were deployed with two radios and antennas at each of the six sites.

The radio sites were connected via Boldyn fibre to an Ethernet switch in a Boldyn data centre, and from there to three 1U servers running Artemis’ vRAN software stack in its lab. Each fibre hop was about 5km. 

The company last surfaced on TMN in 2022 as its technology was trialled as a private wireless network technology at the SAP Center, a 27,000 seat arena in San Jose. 

Perlman told TMN that the technology trialled in New York is largely unchanged from Artemis’ previous filings, following its patented method of covering an area with signal from multiple pWave antenna units, deliberately creating interference. By analysing what happens to signals as they travel through this interference to a connected device, intensive computational processing on a [rack server] then creates a waveform just for each individual connected device. It’s not massive MIMO, whereby lots of antennas create beams to connected devices, and it’s not advanced interference cancellation.

This time around, Perlman points out, the technology has been proven to work at a busy street-level macro deployment and also in an echoey environment with large metal objects (subway trains) rapidly running through.

The only change is radios are now weatherproof for outdoor installation. Perlman added that  the Times Square installation has been running for over 3 months, through cold, hot (how was the New York weather in October?), wet, and dry days, and has “continued to run without a hitch”. 

Business models

Boldyn, as you may know, owns and deploys infrastructure and offers it on a neutral host basis to MNOs. At the SAP Center deployment, the proposed private network business model was for the building owner to offer physical or eSIMs to visitors, which would enable them to authenticate onto the private network.

For a deployment such as Boldyn’s, there are multiple scenarios, depending on the customer, the amount of capacity they want, and whether they want their own vRAN or to share a vRAN with others.

Perlman said a large operator that uses its own spectrum and wants its own vRAN would likely have their own pWave radios and pCell servers that would connect to their core. The only thing that would be shared is the site and possibly the antennas (with other operators in adjacent bands).

If multiple operators/MVNOs want to share the vRAN, either in licensed or CBRS spectrum, they’d use GWCN, MOCN, or MORAN to share the vRAN to attach to their respective cores.

Private network operators would either share a core (EPC/5GC) or share the vRAN with multiple cores via GWCN, MOCN, or MORAN. End users would either connect via a primary eSIM/SIM if the private network is their only network, or by a second eSIM/SIM if the private network is in addition to their primary network

Perlman said that one of the conclusions of the SAP Center trial was that to deploy at scale “we needed a large neutral host partner”.

How pCell works

If you want to understand more about how pCell produces its waveform and connects devices without creating a normal “cell”, then we had a go at an explanation at the end of this post here.