Many of you know it for a long time, high tech and fast cars is something I am into a lot, of course besides normal things like eating, drinking and another thing I won't talk about. Due to these strong interests and the fact that the Internet or the Cyberspace means a whole lot to me, I was very excited when I got the chance to take part in a project that would combine a fast car, high tech PC-equipment and Cyberspace together. Tom's Hardware Guide is proud to represent a part in the development of a 'thing' that is simply called 'Megacar', and although it may only be available to a very small minority of my readers due to its price, I'd still like to explain the technique behind this overkill-vehicle.
Online Access via a Mobile Phone Doesn't Cut the Mustard
Many people in the PC as well as the media business travel a whole lot with their car and there are quite a lot of times when you would have the need to go online, either because you're heavily commuting and thus simply wasting your precious time or when something really urgent came up and you cannot get to a cyber-terminal fast enough. Today, in the age of mobile telecommunication we can at least use our mobile phone to get 'some' kind of Internet-connectivity, but the 9.6 kbit/s offered by mobile phones are light years from today's state of the art. Even the cheapest modems using a terrestrial line can offer at least 33.6 kbit/s, which is 3.5 times as much as what the expensive mobile phone is able to provide. Thus uploads of large files, as e.g. photos, browsing the web and particularly video conferencing are things that are merely impossible when you are on the road.
Why Not 16 Mobile Connections In Parallel?
Dataprotect realized the same problem and so we sat down together and thought about a way to provide a decent bandwidth to a computer that's used in a car on the road, at the same time putting financial worries aside for the time being. We came to a simple equation. If one mobile phone provides only 9.6 kbit/s, why not using 16 of them in parallel to get 153 kbit/s? This may sound crazy, but the cyber-equipment of 'Megacar' does exactly that.
Facing the Problems
The way from the above idea to the final prototype was long and took a whole lot of work. Lot's of questions needed to be addressed, many problems to be fought. How would we distribute the typical TCP/IP-packets to the 16 different mobile connections without serious synchronization problems? How to make sure that there's no packet loss on these touchy lines? How to deal with the typical transmission errors? How would 16 phones work in one car? Would 16 phones mean 16 different aerials on the car and wouldn't they interfere with each other? Could 16 phones work on less than 16 aerials? How can the router system be saved from heavy shocks whilst driving? Those problems needed to be sorted out to make the connectivity possible, but after solving those there were some more questions coming up. Would the bandwidth in the car be made available to simple notebooks or should the car have a dedicated PC inside? How could this system meet highest performance expectation of people who would spend the significant amount of money this system would cost?