Chris Kapuscinski, wireless marketing manager at Alcatel-Lucent, says that the vendor is largely focused on femtocells but notes that carriers are now interested in "small cell" architecture of all kinds, from home base stations to picocells and small units to improve coverage in a larger network. "In general, you're seeing network providers move more and more towards that," he says.
LTE small cells, with support for 3G built in, however, are still probably a couple of years away. "I think you see them sometime in 2011 or 2012 at the earliest," Kapuscinski says. He admits, however, that there are some "more aggressive individuals" who are pushing to get to market sooner.
Why this matters Femtos and other small cells will help to improve the overall performance of LTE, because the closer a user is to a radio the better the connection will be, amongst other things. Femtos and other tiny radio access elements will also help carriers offload traffic in city areas where there is a high concentration of data users.
Alcatel-Lucent is close enough to major LTE deployments -- in fact, the vendor recently unveiled a US$4 billion extension of its LTE and 3G work with Verizon Wireless -- to have its finger on the pulse. Multi-modal small cells with LTE look likely to come after a carrier has started to install much of the larger infrastructure. (See AlcaLu Lands $4B Deal at Verizon Wireless.)
For more Read more on LTE and small cells below:
- Small Cells Key to LTE, Analyst Says
- DoCoMo Seeks LTE Femto Suppliers
- CTIA 2010: Verizon Ups LTE Launch to 38 Cities
- Startup Challenges AlcaLu's Single-Vendor LTE