Cool-Tether turns phones into high-speed hotspots

Microsoft Research cobbles together several smartphones to create one high-speed Wi-Fi connection

Barry Collins
1 Dec 2009

Microsoft Research has found a novel way of beating the deplorably slow speeds of mobile broadband, by combining several phones together to make one high-speed hotspot.

Dubbed Cool-Tether, the system harnesses the mobile data connection of multiple mobile handsets to build an on-the-fly Wi-Fi hotspot.

It's not the first time Microsoft's unveiled the concept: a 2007 research project called Combine suggested a similar means of tapping the bandwidth of several handsets.

However, Combine proved too power hungry, because even when a phone was only asked to transfer a small chunk of data it remained in a high-power state for several seconds afterwards, quickly draining the smartphone's battery.

Cool-Tether alleviates that problem by calling on fewer phones to deliver longer bursts of data, maximising the amount of data delivered in those battery-draining sessions.

"To address the challenges of energy efficiency, Cool-Tether carefully optimises the energy drain of the WAN (GPRS/EDGE/3G) and Wi-Fi radios on smartphones," Microsoft's research paper claims.

"We prototype Cool-Tether on smartphones and, experimentally, demonstrate savings in energy consumption between 38%-71% compared to prior energy-agnostic solutions."

The system is most likely to be harnessed in developing nations such as India, where mobile internet is far more prevalent than fixed-line access.

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