AlcaLu Doesn't Expect LTE Small Cells Until 2011

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) says that it doesn't expect to see multi-modal femtocells and other small cells that incorporate Long Term Evolution (LTE) until late 2011 at the earliest.

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:

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

[email protected] 12/5/2012 | 4:16:55 PM
re: AlcaLu Doesn't Expect LTE Small Cells Until 2011

There’s more than ‘market inertia’ standing in the way of small cell deployment by north American carriers. Femto, pico, and micro cells will be very expensive to deploy for a number of reasons:

·         Each small cell requires its own backhaul to the network

·         Each cell distributes just one frequency band, so there will need to be multiple cells to cover all of the frequencies used by carriers

·         Each small cell serves a single wireless protocol

·         Each cell must be individually configured and maintained, multiplying service costs

·         Cells lock coverage to capacity, resulting in underutilized resources given the effects of clutter


These hurdles are one reasons carriers are also looking at outdoor distributed antenna systems (DAS). DAS work with base stations of any size to distribute cellular service over a broad metro area without the drawbacks of putting small cells everywhere:

·         DAS antennas can be placed to minimize channel interference

·         The DAS projects service from a centrally-located cells  or base stations, so no additional backhaul resources are required

·         DAS can deliver multiple protocols in the same band from a single system/pole attachment, reducing deployment and operational costs

·         DAS requires little or no maintenance once deployed

·         DAS allows you to unlock coverage from capacity through simulcast, maximizing coverage and resource utilization


Small cells will be useful for small buildings and other areas where one or a few cells will provide the needed service, but as a metro-wide solution they present a lot of challenges that are nicely solved with DAS.

Sign In