Alcatel-Lucent Puts a Cell Tower in the Palm of Your Hand
By Mark Hachman
Feb. 7, 2011
Source: PC Magazine
Alcatel-Lucent on Monday unveiled a technology to shrink a cell-phone tower down to about the size of a small handheld cube, plus an antenna.
Dubbed LightRadio, the technology places the diplexer,radio, amplifier and passive cooling into a cube that can fit inside the hand. Alcatel-Lucent will begin customer trials in the second half of 2011, including China Mobile.
The idea, according to the company, is both to cut the power required for a cellular basestation as well as eliminate some of the physical infrastructure that goes along with it. Alcatel-Lucent said it believes that both the power consumption and overall cost can be reduced by half, and that it could essentially replace a cell site with just the small component as well as the antenna. The company estimates that 150 billion euros were spent on mobile access stations in 2010.
“LightRadio is a smart solution to a tough set of problems: high energy costs, the explosion of video on mobile, and connecting the unconnected,” said Ben Verwaayen, the chief executive of Alcatel-Lucent.
The technology also won a conditional endorsement fromVerizon. “Verizon looks forward to learning more about the benefits of lightRadio technology and how they could be applied as we continue to expand and evolve our LTE network,” Tom Sawanobori, vice president of technology planning for Verizon, said in a statement.
The new Alcatel-Lucent lightRadio product family is composed of the following components: a wideband active array antenna, multiband remote radio head, baseband unit, controller, and the 5620 SAM common management solution, the company said. The wideband active array antenna will be trialed later this year and have broad product availability in 2012. Additional product family members will be available over 2012, 2013 and 2014, Alcatel Lucent said.
One way in which the company has cut costs is in virtualizing some of the processing platforms, which Alcatel-Lucent has partnered with Hewlett-Packard to do. The company also designed a chip withFreescale Semiconductor to replace passive components with digital ones.