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Alacatel-Lucent Shrinks Cell Tower to a Cube

By Seth Buechley
February 7th, 2011

[ SOLiD says:  This technology will demand an optimized optical transport network that keeps pace ]

By Ben Rooney (Wall Street Journal)

Alcatel-Lucent’s Wim Sweldens displays the new device. It replaces the cabinet behind him

French mobile telephone infrastructure manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent today unveiled technology that shrinks a cell tower to a box the size of a Rubik’s cube, potentially changing the structure of the cellular network, reducing greenhouse emissions and bringing mobile broadband into new areas.

Called lightRadio, the technology was displayed in London supported by partners Freescale and HP.

According to Wim Sweldens, president of wireless activities for Alcatel-Lucent, by reducing the technology from something the size of a filing cabinet, networks would reduce the total cost of ownership by half, as well as halving the global CO2 emissions from the mobile industry currently equivalent of 15 million cars a year.

Mr. Sweldens said the company has applied for more than 200 patents to protect the intellectual property. The company has set an ambitious timetable, launching an alpha product this year and going into full production in 2012. He committed the company to a rolling timetable of six-monthly upgrades into 2014.

Mr. Sweldens said that five mobile network operators had signed up, although only three were named: Orange, Verizon and China Mobile.

lightRadio represents a new architecture where the base station, typically located at the base of each cell site tower, is broken into its components elements and then distributed into both the antenna and throughout a cloud-like network. Additionally today’s clutter of antennas serving 2G, 3G, and LTE systems are combined and shrunk into a single multi-frequency, multi-standard Wide-band Active Array Antenna that can be mounted on poles, sides of buildings or anywhere else there is power and a broadband connection.   Read the article here.

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