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Juicing up cell phones

Australian researchers are working to extend the life of batteries in mobile wireless devices and to provide carriers with the capacity to deliver higher bit rates to new handsets.

Australian researchers are working to extend the life of batteries in mobile wireless devices and to provide carriers with the capacity to deliver higher bit rates to new handsets.

The latter efforts, if they lead to higher transmission speeds, could provide some impetus to the stalled promise of 3G (third-generation) networks, although researcher John Papandriopoulos says the new concepts have wider applications.

"3G is old hat if you're in research. Industry follows us in a five- to 10-year lag, so what we're doing here will give the industry an insight into what will happen in the future," said Papandriopoulos, who works at Melbourne University's Center for Ultra-Broadband Information Networks.

"There's a lot of unexplored territory in 3G, but it's just a standard and an access method," he said. "Our stuff relates to wireless networks as a whole."

The improvement in battery life could be achieved by using smarter power-control algorithms. The new techniques may also allow carriers to allocate different bit rates to different users on the fly.

Voice calls, for example, don?t require as high a bit rate as mobile Internet connections or videoconferencing. The research that Papandriopoulos is part of allows carriers to divide users into different groups and assign bandwidth to them dynamically as their needs change.

"We've developed an algorithm that enables carriers to meet everyone's quality of service requirements," he said.

ZDNet Australia's Patrick Gray reported from Sydney.