FOR RELEASE WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 16, 2002
Lucent Technologies' Chips Poised to Bring "BLAST" Multiple Input/Multiple
Output Technology to Laptops,
PDAs and Other Mobile Devices
MURRAY HILL. N.J. - Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) today announced that
Bell Labs, its research and
development arm, has designed two prototype chips for mobile devices that implement its multiple
input/multiple output (MIMO) wireless network technology, called Bell Labs Layered Space-Time (BLAST). These
chips, which conform to industry standards for size and power consumption, demonstrate that BLAST technology
can be deployed in mobile devices commercially. In initial lab testing, the chips lived up to theoretical
predictions, receiving data in a third-generation (3G) mobile network at a blazing 19.2 Megabits per second
(Mbps). By comparison, today's fastest 3G networks, offer maximum speeds of roughly 2.5 Mbps.
BLAST uses multiple antennas at the terminal and base station to send and
receive wireless signals at
ultra-high speeds. When utilized in base station equipment and mobile devices, it permits higher-speed mobile
data connections for notebook PCs and handheld data devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs). This
will enable mobile operators to provide higher-quality, higher-speed data services to a substantially greater
number of subscribers than is possible with the best 3G network technology available today, increasing the
value of their 3G investment dramatically.
"There has been a scramble around the world to put MIMO in silicon," said
Ran Yan, vice president, Wireless
Research at Bell Labs. "We believe ours are the world's first chips that can be used in handsets with four
antennas, and therefore the first capable of such high transmission speeds. Not only have we proven the
commercial feasibility of BLAST, but we've also verified the performance figures our researchers predicted when
they first theorized that it might be possible to exploit interference to achieve faster and more efficient
Lucent is also working to speed the commercial introduction of MIMO technology
by making its family of
Flexent® OneBTS™ base stations MIMO-ready. By doing so, a base station purchased today will provide mobile
operators with a cost effective and seamless way to support this technology in the future when MIMO-enabled
mobile devices become commercially available.
"The development of these chips offers tremendous promise as a key element
of our effort to help our
customers extend the value of their existing infrastructure investments," said Paul Mankiewich, chief technical
officer of Lucent's Mobility Solutions Group. "This technology has the potential to greatly enhance the coverage,
capacity and speed of 3G networks."
A Bell Labs research team in Sydney, Australia, designed the chips in collaboration
with researchers at Bell Labs'
Crawford Hill facility in New Jersey where BLAST was originally invented. The two chips have been tested
successfully in four-antenna terminal configuration that also uses four transmit antennas at the base station.
These chips, one for detecting BLAST signals and the other for decoding them, are small enough and consume
so little power that they could be used in cell phones or laptop computers with minimal impact on battery life.
Lucent plans to license the chips' designs to mobile handset, PC card and
other device manufacturers that may
be interested in integrating MIMO into future products. The company is also working with 3G wireless standards
groups to ensure that emerging MIMO standards support BLAST. Building on its success to date, the Bell Labs
team also plans to use different modulation schemes and antenna configurations to achieve even higher data
rates for future generations of BLAST chips.
How BLAST Works
BLAST technology essentially exploits a theoretical concept that many researchers believed was impossible. In
most wireless environments, radio signals do not travel directly from transmitter to receiver, but are randomly
scattered in transit before they reach the receiver. The prevailing view was that to have good reception, each of
these signals needed to occupy a separate frequency, similar to the way in which radio or TV stations within a
geographical area are allocated separate frequencies. Otherwise, the interference between stations operating on
the same frequency would be too overwhelming to achieve quality communications.
But BLAST's inventors theorized, and later proved, that it is possible
to have several transmissions occupying
the same frequency band. Additionally, they realized that it is possible to use the scattering of these signals to
enhance, rather than degrade, transmission accuracy by treating the scattered paths as separate, parallel
BLAST splits a single user's data stream into multiple sub-streams and
uses an array of transmitter antennas to
simultaneously launch the streams in parallel. All the sub-streams are transmitted in the same frequency band,
so spectrum is used very efficiently. At the receiver, an array of antennas is again used to pick up the multiple
transmitted sub-streams. Using the multiple antenna technique, the rate of transmission is increased roughly in
proportion to the number of antennas used to transmit the signal.
This year, MIT's Technology Review magazine selected the original BLAST
patent as one of its five "Patents to
Watch" based on the belief that this invention could change the communications industry — or possibly result in
a new industry. In addition, the Research and Development Council of New Jersey will honor BLAST later this
year by bestowing its prestigious Thomas Alva Edison Patent award for 2002 to BLAST's inventor, Gerard
Bell Labs is the leading source of new communications technologies. It
has generated more than 28,000
patents since 1925 and has played a pivotal role in inventing or perfecting key communications technologies,
including transistors, digital networking and signal processing, lasers and fiber-optic communications systems,
communications satellites, cellular telephony, electronic switching of calls, touch-tone dialing, and modems. Bell
Labs scientists have received six Nobel Prizes in Physics, nine U.S. Medals of Science and eight U.S. Medals of
Technology. For more information about Bell Labs, visit its Web site at http://www.bell-labs.com.
Lucent's Mobility Solutions Group is a leading global provider of mobile
networking technologies, having
deployed more than 70,000 spread-spectrum base stations for mobile operators worldwide.
Ed. Note: High-resolution images of the BLAST chips and members of the
research team are available by request at:
Lucent Technologies, headquartered in Murray Hill, N.J., USA, designs and
delivers networks for the world's
largest communications service providers. Backed by Bell Labs research and development, Lucent relies on its
strengths in mobility, optical, data and voice networking technologies as well as software and services to
develop next-generation networks. The company's systems, services and software are designed to help
customers quickly deploy and better manage their networks and create new, revenue-generating services that
help businesses and consumers. For more information on Lucent Technologies, visit its Web site at