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A Cell-Phone Tower for Your Pocket

February 23, 2011

The signal your cell phone receives typically comes from a large microwave transceiver a few miles away. Now it can be supplied—over a short range, at least—by a device the size of a USB memory stick.

Two U.K. firms—PicoChip and Ubiquisys—have developed such pocket-sized, USB-powered devices, which connect to nearby cell phones using the same frequencies of a conventional tower.  The gadgets use the Internet connection of a computer or other device to link back to the wider cell network and relay calls or data. PicoChip's is the size of a USB stick, while Ubiquisys' design is the size of a small cell phone.