Nokia, Ericsson separately announce successful operator trials of portable 4G base stations

Nokia and Ericsson this week went head-to-head with separate announcements regarding miniaturised 4G base stations, with Nokia promising kit the size of a "back pack", and Ericsson the deployment of a "briefcase" sized package by Vodafone UK.

Finnish vendor Nokia got the ball rolling by announcing its Ultra Compact Network, which it explained is the smallest piece of equipment in a range of 4G infrastructure products designed to offer rapid connectivity in the fields of public safety, disaster management, and business critical environments.

Nokia's system can be transported in a "backpack or vehicle, or made airborne via drone or weather balloon" and can operate as a standalone network or be backhauled to existing 4G infrastructure, the vendor explained in a statement.

Once set up, the portable 4G equipment offers regular voice and data access to up to 400 active users across a range of 75 km. The equipment weighs around 5 kg and requires a power supply of around 100 Watts, Nokia stated.

UK operator EE tested the Nokia equipment last month and reported that it performed well in indoor and outdoor environments. "We were very impressed with the capabilities of this lightweight, easily deployable small cell system. It is an ideal solution for disaster recovery and to delivery temporary coverage both for public and private sector customers," commented Mansoor Hanif, Director of RAN at EE.

Ericsson, meanwhile, scored a win with Vodafone UK, which announced it has installed its first Ericsson Radio System mini base-station in London following tests utilising three-carrier aggregation in the 800MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz bands. The trial sites achieved data rates of up to 700 Mbps in the downlink.

The Sweden-headquartered vendor describes the equipment as being similar in size to a briefcase -- or half the size and weight of a standard radio unit -- and can be quickly deployed on rooftops as a result.

Ericsson said the use of carrier aggregation in the Radio System increases the number of users that can be connected to ultra-fast data rates, and that the equipment is more energy efficient than standard base stations.

Vodafone UK said it plans to expand its use of the mini base-stations in London and other urban areas of the country.

Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK's CTO, said Ericsson's equipment provides the operator with a means to meet subscribers' "soaring demand for mobile data and video while minimising disruption to the general public and improving the aesthetics of the surrounding area."

For more:
- see this Nokia announcement
- read this Vodafone UK release

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