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Alcatel-Lucent: Faster Data in More Places

By Vincent Sobotka     Feb 8, 2011 in Technology
Global technology is a force that has been met with resistance and conflict on many fronts. Necessity, health, and product-quality remain significant issues for which high-caliber opinions clash--but such is process of innovation.
The majority of present America has developed or will soon develop a certain degree of reliance on mobile communications. Like its demand, however, there is also a varying degree of enthusiasm when it comes to advancing mobile technology and expanding its reach. Bottom line: Whether your cell phone is from 1995 or 2011, it requires the same basic but rapidly--and sometimes unsubtly--growing infrastructure.
Alcatel-Lucent has provided a series of inventions with the potential to solve issues surrounding the use of aging mobile phone infrastructure that is the phone mast, more commonly referred to as a cell tower or cell site. The company promises its new products will make mobile computing cheaper, faster, and readily available almost anywhere on Earth.
"Light Radio.", an invention of the Bell Labs division of Alcatel-Lucent that operates out of Naperville, Illinois and has previously been credited with the creation of the computer operating system (OS) UNIX, was announced on February 7 as an industry-changing product set.
Breaking down the composition of the Light Radio product set, called a "Cube", reveals its many advantages over the prevalent cell tower. A small antenna is mounted directly to a miniature amplifier, and the combination is then wired using optic fibers to consolidated areas containing Freescale-produced processors. What this design allows is easy placement of a Cube atop, say, a light post or flag pole. The Cube can also generate a signal with significantly greater power than a towering phone mast due to strategic engineering that places minimal distance between the fiber optic cabling and the antenna-mounted amplifier. Further credited to innovative engineering are the Cube's multiple facilities of clustered Freescale-produced processors, which improve the quickness and flexibility of carrier routing and switching. Light Radio can support 2G, 3G and 4G networks, and can be configured to support two different networks simultaneously.
Additionally, there are many capabilities of the Cube's antenna that deserve emphasis. Transmissions from the cube start with a direct signal at 120-degrees towards a customer then rotate while the customer is moving, and can work with multiple antenna sites to provide data rates faster than ever before seen. Tom Gruba, director of product marketing for Bell South, referred to the antenna's directional transmission as a "focused broadcast," and described the component as "another power and capacity saver." Gruba went on to describe the coordinated transmissions of multiple antenna sites to a single customer as, "Coordinated, multi-point antennas work in concert."
The term 'Light Radio" derives from the dramatically lightened environmental impact the product would have as the world's primary infrastructure, and for the pulses, or waves of light, carried by the optic fibers. "Cube" is a nod to the toy-block-like characteristic that enables units to be built together in columns.
Gruba claimed that Light Radio will help carriers adjust to appropriate amounts of broadcast power across various geographical areas without needing to construct a massive tower. He supported this claim by stating, "The approach will reduce the cost of cellular towers by 66% and the expense of sending field technicians on service calls by 60%. Energy costs for the same broadcast output will be reduced by 51%." Gruba also predicted that the innovation represented by Light Radio will eventually converge into IP networks.
No carriers have yet implemented the Light Radio technology, as Alcatel-Lucent has merely announced the product to its market. China Mobile and other industry leaders, according to Gruba, backed Bell South in the creation of their product set. Gruba also expects to see other telecommunications manufacturers releasing their own, similar product sets in the near future.
More about Alcatel Lucent, Lucent, Light Cube, Cell, Cell Tower