Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) is in talks with Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ: ALU) to use the vendor's lightRadio gear, which it introduced a year ago. In addition, Alcatel-Lucent is building on its lightRadio concept by announcing lightRadio Wi-Fi, which offers 2G, 3G, LTE and integrated Wi-Fi capability in a small cell architecture.
According to Bloomberg, Bob Azzi, Sprint's senior vice president of networks, said that using new technologies like Alcatel-Lucent's lightRadio will help the company conserve spectrum and avoid capacity issues caused by the growing amount of data that is straining networks. Alcatel-Lucent, along with Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Samsung, is one of the main vendors for Sprint's Network Vision network modernization project, which primarily involves the deployment of new multi-mode base stations.
LightRadio uses a Bell Labs-pioneered architecture to break 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 access to power and a broadband connection.
Alcatel-Lucent said that many U.S. operators have been testing lightRadio and will begin deploying it this year. However, the company isn't the only manufacturer offering this type of product. Last year Nokia Siemens Networks also introduced a network architecture concept--called Liquid Net--designed to turn a traditional mobile network into software-driven network capable of self-adapting to network loads.
Meanwhile Alcatel-Lucent's lightRadio Wi-Fi, which was announced today, is geared to operators that want to bundle Wi-Fi connectivity into their offering so their subscribers can seamlessly move from cellular to Wi-Fi without dropping the session. "This is one more wireless broadband connectivity option," said Gary Leonard, director of product marketing in Alcatel-Lucent's wireless division. Leonard added that the product is not only targeted at wireless operators, but also wireline and cable providers as well.
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