Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ: ALU) announced what it calls a new breakthrough in the architecture of mobile and broadband infrastructure that reduces the the complexity, power consumption and operating costs of networks by shrinking and simplifying cell towers.
Called, lightRadio, the new Bell Labs-pioneered architecture breaks down a base station into its component elements and then distributes them into both the antenna and throughout a cloud-like network. In addition, antennas serving 2G, 3G, and LTE systems are combined and shrunken into a single multi-frequency, multi-standard wideband active array antenna that can be mounted on poles, sides of buildings or anywhere else there is power and a broadband connection.
Alcatel-Lucent said initial elements of the lightRadio product family will be ready to begin customer trials in the second half 2011.
Jean-Pierre Lartigue, vice president of wireless networks of marketing and strategy with Alcatel-Lucent, said the architecture is designed to reduce energy consumption of mobile networks by up to 50 percent or more over current radio access network equipment. And its lower operations and maintenance costs, when combined with small cells and LTE, can lead to a total cost of network ownership up to 50 percent or more, he said.
In addition, by reducing the cell site to one antenna and leveraging future advances in microwave backhaul and compression techniques, Lartigue said the new architecture will eventually be able to enable cost effective rural broadband services anywhere there is power by using microwave to connect back to the network.
Base station technology has not evolved much over the years, and today the technology is inundated with data traffic. The solution has been to continually throw more equipment into the field, Lartigue said. He said Alcatel-Lucent is working with operators to determine how best to roll the technology into their existing networks, but envisions operators putting the equipment in busy network areas.
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