updated 05:20 pm EST, Tue February 8, 2011
Alcatel-Lucent intros lightRadio cell tower tech
Alcatel-Lucent said on Tuesday its new lightRadio cellular hardware will double the capacity of cell sites while shrinking their size and halving the cost. The towers also require huts at their base that house antennas, and lose efficiency by moving the signal using the tower's wires. Alcatel-Lucent's used its Bell Labs R&D division to develop the new technology.
The company's plan includes consolidating rack-mounted hardware into a few key locations in a city and hook them up to the towers using fiber optic cable.
Costs would be cut as repair technicians will not need to access remote areas and not travel as far to address problems. Load balancing across a region can also be done more efficiently from a central location. The interconnection between baseband processors is also faster, allowing for Co-ordinated Multipoint standard support. This helps a mobile device within range of multiple towers to download content faster.
The lightRadio is easily upgradeable with new software and collapses three radios into one. They use small amps and operate between 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz. They are stacked in groups of between 8 and 10 and when one goes down, the others continue to operate.
Beam-forming, which uses horizontal and vertical directional control over the radio signal, is 30 percent more efficient than vertical beam-forming alone, and supported by the lightRadio tech.
They also require less cooling and other peripheral gear, requiring a claimed reduction of 50 percent in power.
No commercial dates for the gear have been set, but the technology is a few months away from being put to real-world use. [via ]