Wim Sweldens presents the small cube at the core of the lightRadio breakthrough
[UPDATE: Watch the replay of the lightRadio news conference (London, Feb. 7th)]
By Wim Sweldens, President Alcatel-Lucent Wireless Division
The mobile industry has done a phenomenal job changing the lives of billions of people in the world, bringing them wireless all-around, with education, information and entertainment. By placing smart devices in their hands and providing services, information and capabilities in the cloud, societies, economies and businesses have flourished.
But, with this growth comes some problems. More than half of the world’s population does not have access to mobile broadband data. The industry does not have a feasible path to close this broadband digital divide. Our networks are power hungry and emit 18,000,000 metric tons of C02 per year. Plus, antennas and towers are not very attractive, they obstruct our landscapes and cityscapes. And, who among you has not experienced the network congestion challenge? Time will not fix these challenges, they will grow and grow.
Now what is the root cause of these problems? The base station. It is a fundamental element of the wireless architecture that is large and power hungry. These visual monstrosities are tethered to equally unattractive antennas that block more of the landscape with each new technology. This is the one element of the mobile architecture that is keeping the network from being flexible, responsive and green.
We know what to do. We have discovered an exciting breakthrough innovation that has the capability to make base stations and antennas virtually invisible. Our innovative breakthrough is called lightRadio.
lightRadio has at its core an innovation that is a small cube—a cube invented by Bell Labs which combines a wideband active array antenna with fully software defined radio capability. This, less than 300 g cube, enables an active antenna as small as 2 watts to an array of typical cellular capacity (30-60 watts). It can be deployed in big and small antenna configurations, all-around the city. With this new antenna, base stations and large antenna towers, virtually disappear. Big or small cells, it is one continuum, for these cubes can be stacked to build a macro cell or used singularly in a beam formation for targeted coverage.
lightRadio makes networks significantly lighter, much simpler to deploy and cuts the cost of site rental by 66%. For our planet, we can reduce power by 51%. With this small element, connected to microwave, it is now feasible for people currently not served by mobile data, to have access.
We’re not alone on this journey. We’re working closely with HP on cloud-like technologies and co-creating with Freescale on system-on-chip capabilities. And most importantly, we are co-creating this technology, together with our customers all around the world.