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Mobile telephony without base stations
12 January 2011
The new generation of mobile phone technology makes it possible to communicate directly from one telephone to another without having to rely on base stations. A dissertation at Linköping University in Sweden presents a program that runs on telephones and can deliver messages even when the infrastructure for telecommunication has been knocked out.
Natural disasters in recent years have shown how vulnerable our society is to unforeseen and disruptive events. At the same time we have seen that there is a strong will to help people in crisis areas. But for rescue operations to work, telecommunications need to be up and running.
Mobile telephone base stations and satellite telephones are of major importance, but they have their limitations in terms of cost, construction time, and access on a large scale. Mikael Asplund, a doctoral candidate in computer science, is now presenting, among other things, a complement to existing communication channels in a crisis.
The idea is to use the new generation of mobile phones to send messages directly from one phone to another. The advantage of this type of spontaneous network is that it can be used by everyone, without any special equipment, and it can be set up virtually instantly to solve problems that arise in a specific place.
But such networks bring not only great potential but also challenges, as gaps and network partitions can arise, so that nobody can forward a message. At the same time the use of batteries necessitates great energy efficiency. Mikael Asplund and his associates have designed a program that overcomes these difficulties when it is run on telephones, making it possible to deliver messages under extremely severe conditions.
The first part of the dissertation also deals with network partitions in a more controlled environment. This problem can arise, for example, when an Internet bank experiences disruptions in its network connection to other parts of the bank. The dissertation presents a method for the bank to continue to provide service to its customers despite such breakdowns.
The dissertation Disconnected discoveries: Availability studies in partitioned networks is published by LiU Electronic Press:
Credit: HEALTH PROTECTION AGENCY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY Caption: Mobile phone antennas on a mast. Mobile telephones receive and send voice, text and image data as low-intensity microwaves. The signals are relayed through a network of antennas, such as these, that are mounted on masts. The rectangular antennas seen here transmit to and from mobile phones, and have a range of a few hundred metres in urban areas. Other antennas transmit between the masts. Photographed in Northfleet, Kent, UK. - © This image is for illustration only and subject to copyright and may not be used or copied in any way without prior permission from Science Photo Library http://www.sciencephoto.com
Disconnected Discoveries: Availability Studies in Partitioned Networks by Mikael Asplund