World at your fingertips

UK antenna technology is on course to underpin the world’s first mass-market ‘Quad-band’ mobile phones able to operate anywhere in the world, its developers claimed this week.

Cambridge-based Antenova, which builds antennae based on dielectric materials rather than metals, said it is working towards commercial availability of a Quad-band system later this year.

A Quad-band phone would provide coverage across all four frequencies used by GSM mobile networks around the world.

Tri-band phones, covering three of the four, are currently the best available to the mass-market.

Antenova is developing the Quad-band platform in a joint project with Galtronics, a major antenna designer and manufacturer. It would be able to operate in the 800, 900, 1800 and 1900MHz frequency ranges and be suitable for the Asian, north American and European markets.

Galtronics, which is based in Israel, supplies electronics companies including Nokia, Motorola, NEC, Siemens and Philips.

This will be the first joint venture between Antenova and Galtronics following a partnership agreement signed last week.

Greg McCray, Antenova’s chief executive, claimed his company’s technology was the first to make Quad-band viable for mass-production. ‘As far as we know nobody else has been able to do it at the right cost,’ he said. Crucially, said McCray, the antenna can be fitted internally to a phone’s handset rather than as an external appendage, which adds to costs and is unpopular with users.

Antenova technology uses the properties of dielectric materials as an alternative to conventional metallic antennae. According to Antenova, dielectric antennae offer phone manufacturers and users a range of advantages. It claimed they are smaller and more power-efficient than conventional systems, and that they are less susceptible to loss of signal when the antenna is blocked by a physical barrier. It also said dielectrics allow a wider range of frequencies to be covered by an antenna, hence the technology’s suitability for Quad-band.

McCray said the new partnership was a key step toward the mass market for his company. ‘It’s a very big deal. Galtronics had been doing a global search for a technology to add to its portfolio, and ours was the one,’ he said.

The partnership will give Antenova access to Galtronics’ global sales channels and manufacturing facilities.

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