Earlier this year Alcatel-Lucent unveiled a radical new micro base station technology dubbed the ‘lightRadio’. Unlike the current filing cabinet-sized antenna stacks sitting on many a roof top, this product compresses 2G, 3G and 4G antennas into a single 300g antenna about the size of a Rubik’s cube. The lightRadio was developed by Alcatel-Lucent’s R&D arm Bell Labs, chip manufacturer Freescale Semiconductor and Hewlett-Packard (HP).
Tod Sizer, head of Wireless Research at Bell Labs must take a lot of the credit, but it was Alcatel-Lucent Wireless Product VP Javier Garcia Gomez who led the team that developed the new antenna.The lightRadio cube’s single Bell Labs designed multi-frequency, multi-stranded wideband active array antenna will do away with the current bulky base stations and large antenna masts. Its small size means it can be easily deployed ‘pretty much anywhere’, such as on buildings, telegraph poles, lampposts and other street furniture.
The system can be scaled up by just using more cubes, either spread out or racked and stacked together.The product is designed to allow network operators to buy more capacity and more coverage, which will help them address the rising demand for data. Alcatel-Lucent believes that the lightRadio’s impact on site, energy, operations and maintenance costs, when combined with small cells and LTE, should cut the total cost of ownership of mobile networks by 50%.