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Alcatel-Lucent LightRadio promises UK mobile broadband everywhere

David Ludlow
8 Feb 2011
LightRadio technology to boost UK wireless broadband
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Shrinks a base station into a tiny cube

Mobile data access across the UK could be rapidly improved thanks to new technology from Alcatel-Lucent, which shrinks a traditional base station into a cube that's around the same size a golf ball.

Dubbed the lightRadio, the new wireless antenna can be installed anywhere there's electricity. Once installed it can either communicate back to the mobile operator's network using an IP connection or via microwave wireless to a central base station.

"There are many different types and sizes of base stations, from very small to very large, depending on where they are located, such as in an urban or rural area," explained Tom Sizer, head of Bell Labs Wireless Research at Alcatel-Lucent. "I realized that we needed to design a new and flexible type of antenna array for different environments - including one designed to the smallest possible size – 'invisible antennas' - in order to be flexible enough to meet the growing needs of all of our wireless service provider customers."

As well as being able to be installed almost anywhere, the lightRadio, costs around 50 per cent less to run than a traditional mobile base station, saving the mobile networks money in the process. This is key, as it means that there's an incentive for mobile providers to install the new antennas and improve their coverage.

LightRadio is able to offer 2G, 3G and 4G (LTE) network access and is designed so that multiple devices can be combined to boost coverage. Currently, around 20 lightRadio cubes would be needed to cover the same area as a single base station. Trials are due to take place worldwide soon.

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