HK invention speeds up phone downloads

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 July, 2010, 12:00am

Smartphone users tired of watching YouTube videos with an intermittent freeze can expect faster download times thanks to a piece of technology developed by Chinese University.

The technology, likened to a 'turbo motor' by its inventor, Professor Jack Lee Yiu-bun, associate director of CUHK's Centre for Innovation and Technology, is slated to catapult the world into faster mobile internet access.

And while it won't change the way smartphones work or the way Web content providers run their sites, it will keep impatient users happy.

'Instead of building a turbo motor for every car on the road, we built a turbo motor for the road,' Lee said, explaining that his innovation speeds up the operations of mobile internet access networks, allowing for quicker download speeds.

Mike Wang Jianya, Nokia Siemens Networks' general manager for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, playfully refers to the device as a 'magic box' that, placed in a network, accelerates the speeds of internet applications by a factor of three, according to recent tests. Nokia Siemens Networks collaborated with the university on the project.

The device can operate across several different technology systems and also allows internet applications to make full use of bandwidth, which may not only save time for mobile phone users but cut production costs for Web content providers.

Lee, who started his project to speed up mobile network internet access three years ago, says his invention is still undergoing tests and improvements. He would like to introduce a version for field trial in a year or two.

The number of people accessing the internet through mobile phones is growing at around 500 per cent each year globally, Lee says.

The market for mobile internet access in Asia and specifically Hong Kong is strong and growing, according to Wang.

He noted that many of Nokia Siemens Networks' research and development departments, once centred in western Europe, had now started moving branches to mainland cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu .

As part of the collaboration between the mobile phone giant and Chinese University, the company has provided equipment to give CUHK students a week-long live demonstration of commercially available technology that allows internet access at very high speeds.