On Monday, Alcatel-Lucent introduced lightRadio, a new architecture for cellular hardware that promises to lower energy costs, improve bandwidth capabilities and simplify the process of building out a cellular network. Currently, each cell phone tower includes a set of large antennas at the top of the tower and a trailer at the base of the tower that includes all the processing power to handle incoming and outgoing cellular calling and data traffic. These towers are costly to build out, consume a large amount of energy and are expensive to maintain.
With lightRadio, the hardware to handle the incoming and outgoing cellular traffic will be broken into individual components, separated from the individual towers, and distributed through the network. These centralized hubs will connect a large number local antennas and will form the backbone of the cellular network.
Antennas will also be compacted into multi frequency, multi standard (2G, 3G, LTE) cube-shaped devices that can be easily mounted on existing structures. All these antennas will require is a power source and a broadband connection to operate. According to Alcatel-Lucent, these new towers will reduce the energy consumption of mobile networks by 50% and double the speed.
While impressive, the technology is not ready for full deployment, Mobile operators, including China Mobile and Orange, will roll out the system in bits and pieces starting with the cube antennas. The full system will be available by 2013. For all the nitty, gritty details, check out the press release on the second page or Alcatel-Lucent’s dedicated lightRadio website.