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Nokia buys small semiconductor company to land 5G tech

Jon Gold | Oct. 6, 2016
The completely wireless, solar-powered F-Cell can be delivered by a drone

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A small semiconductor company based in Cambridge, Mass., was acquired today by Nokia, in a move to make the Finnish giant’s base station technology more energy-efficient.

Eta Devices’ technology and institutional expertise appear to be at the heart of the acquisition, for which terms and pricing were not disclosed. Eta has 20 employees, located in Cambridge and at an R&D office in Stockholm, Sweden.

Eta was founded in 2010 by a pair of MIT professors, Joel Dawson and David Perrault, serial entrepreneur Mattias Astrom, and ex-Huawei researcher Mark Briffa.

The company’s main technology, which it calls ETAdvanced, is a sophisticated method of making radio transmitters more energy efficient, based on research done by Dawson and Perrault at MIT. Essentially, ETAdvanced works by scaling back power usage for individual signals to the point where it is sufficient, but not excessive to ensure that a given signal is received.

It also works on the other end of the connection, according to Eta. The company claims to be able to increase smartphone battery life by up to 50%, thanks to improved efficiency.

Nokia said in a statement that ETAdvanced will reduce waste heat on transmitters, translating to savings that can be reinvested into forthcoming 5G technology. Nokia also expects benefits from lower backup power requirements, smaller base station cabinets, and lower rates of equipment breakdown.

The larger company also mentioned growing numbers of connected devices in its statement, implying that Nokia has an eye on the future where the internet of things is concerned.


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