There is a an old saying that big things come in small packages, never a truer word spoken when referring to the latest offering by global telecommunications expert Alcatel-Lucent. The latest instalment of technological mastery is being called the LightRadio, this miniscule device is a mobile phone base station and is not much bigger than a golf ball. Watch the video below to see Tod Sizer from Bell Labs talking about the development of the LightRadio.
Base stations are typically big structures comprising of a baseband unit, antenna and signal amplifier. Alcatel have managed to minimise the size of these components to just a few small chips that fit snugly inside a small cube no bigger than 6cm high. These tiny units can be fitted anywhere there is an electricity supply such as a on the side of buildings and on lampposts, one major drawback is that the cubes will not be able to handle as many users as traditional base stations. This is not too much of a problem though as you are able to place more than one at any location due to how small they are.
These devices can run on any spectrum band from 400MHz to 4GHz in all 2G, 3G and LTE networks, because of their small size these devices can reduce power needs and running costs for major networks, which are struggling to cope with the increase of demand for data traffic. According to Cisco we could see this demand grow majorly to approximately 30-fold in the next five years, for more info on these statistics head over to this post by Charles Arthur at the Guardian.co.uk.
Field trials are being planned for these units by Alcatel-Lucent with the co-operation of a number of large mobile carriers around the world including Verizon, Orange and even China Mobile. According to Mikael Ricknäs from PCWorld.com Alcatel-Lucent plan to demonstrate their devices at Mobile World Congress, which we know takes place between the 14th and the 17th of February in Barcelona.
As with all new technology these base stations aren’t going to start popping up on the side of buildings within the next few weeks, but if all goes to plan then this could significantly improve many carrier networks both in developing and developed countries, Giving broader network access to all.
Is this the future for mobile networks?