Technology can help cover gaps in cell network coverage.
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In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture investment arm, is investing in small, flexible transistor chips that can be used to build broadband wireless networks and devices.
Lime Microsystems, based near London, produces digitally configurable transceivers for wireless networking. In a statement announcing the investment, Robert Ames, senior VP of In-Q-Tel's information and communication technologies practice, cited the technology's support for multiple standards and its potential for use across a range of frequencies.
In-Q-Tel said the goal is to create state-of-the-art wireless systems that can be used for a variety of applications by the U.S. intelligence community.
Lime's integrated transceiver chips, at 9 by 9 millimeters, are small and can be used to replace multiple chips in cell base stations and repeaters, leading to lower costs when used in different products or geographic areas. The chip can be reconfigured to operate in a variety of frequency bands, including new ones, resulting in faster time to market, according to Lime.
The transceiver chips are useful in picocells and femtocells, networks of small indoor base stations that strengthen cell signal coverage in areas where mobile networks are overloaded, or where there are gaps in cell signal coverage, such as buildings.
The chips are compatible with LTE, 3G, and WiMAX standards, and can be reconfigured for 16 bandwidths up to 28 megahertz. They can be used in all 4G, 3G, and 2G bands, as well as in unused "white space" frequencies. "Each country uses different frequencies and standards for their mobile networks," a Lime spokesman said via email.
Lime partnered with Cambridge Consultants last year on a base station that would let emergency services and relief organizations quickly establish a mobile network after an earthquake or tsunami, the spokesman said. Such networks can be closed to all but the emergency services.
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