The market for a lightRadio type of miniaturized base station technology is projected to explode to $16 billion in the next five years, because some of the largest carriers in the world like China Mobile, Orange and Verizon Wireless have shown interest, and are testing the technology this year. Verizon will definitely need the savings after splurging on its gigantic LTE network bet. Verizon will start field tests shortly.
Alcatel-Lucent demonstrated the “LightRadio” 3G/LTE base station – which is 2″ cube. The transceiver covers 400 Mhz to 4 GHz, and offers 100% increased bitrate to cell phones. LightRadio is a full cell-service transceiver, and is a peer to existing cellular service transmission technologies.
The small, cube-shaped device is designed to complement or replace the existing large high power masts that currently supply mobile signal. The small size, power efficiency and self-contained operation will allow subdivision of cells into much smaller, even building-sized footprints. This will be critical for continuing to increase subscriber bandwidth and responsiveness.
The LightRadio has a novel architecture where the base station is distributed through the network or ‘carrier cloud.’ Bell Labs has incorporated a multi-frequency, multi-standard (2G, 3G, LTE) antenna that the whole unit can be mounted on poles, sides of buildings or anywhere having power and needingn enhance broadband connections.
The LightRadio has a Wideband Active Array Antenna, a Multiband Remote Radio Head, a lightRadio Baseband Processing, a lightRadio Control components, and is managed using 5620 Service Aware Manager (SAM) software.
The benefits of lightRadio are dramatic:
• Energy: lightRadio reduces energy consumption of mobile networks by up to 50% over current radio access network equipment.
• Unwired link – The microwave backhaul link enables broadband coverage virtually anywhere using microwave to connect units back to the network.
• Operating savings: when combined with small cells and LTE, a reduction of total cost of ownership (TCO) of mobile networks up to 50% is expected.
• Enhances user bandwidth: by doubling bandwidth and simultaneously reducing the cost per bit, lightRadio makes possible new services and competitive service pricing.
The device works by consolidating conventional base-station technology into very small packages, and effecting connections to the network by microwave, rather than copper or fiber.
The units also transmit and receive with directional specificity in both the horizontal and vertical dimension to connect a enhanced number of local wireless devices. Alcatel-Lucent claims capacity improvements of 30 percent through vertical beam-forming alone.
The end result: lightRadio cell towers don’t need huts, they don’t need air conditioners and heaters, big amplifiers, fans, or even local processing gear. Baseband processing moves closer to the data center model and gets cool new capabilities like CoMP and load-balancing. The system’s cost savings come from power reduction, lowered construction and site rental fees. The total broadband capacity of the system could double while still cutting operator costs.
Alcatel-Lucent maps the future of mobile technology – lightRadio™ Promises Greener, Simpler, Lighter Networks: Multi-Billion Euro Savings in Infrastructure & Power Costs, Addressing Major Elements of Global “Digital Divide”
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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