AT&T Launches RFI for Small Cells
According to industry sources, the operator has started a request for information (RFI) process for outdoor public-access small-cell base stations that support 3G, Long Term Evolution (LTE) as well as Wi-Fi. The sources say the operator could be looking for as many as 100,000 of the mini base stations.
AT&T already has plans to trial small cells this year, according to comments made by operator executives at the Mobile World Congress in February, and again at the CTIA show in May. But details about what type and how many base stations the operator is considering adds to the picture of its small-cell strategy. (See CTIA Postscript: Small Cells Step Out.)
It's not certain whether the operator has already drawn up a shortlist of vendors for the project. But such a list would probably include Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) -- AT&T's current radio access network (RAN) domain suppliers -- as well as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which supplies AT&T's Microcell-branded residential femtocell. (See Who's Big in Small Cells?, Cisco’s Big Small-Cell Ambitions and Cisco Works With AT&T Et Al on First Small Cell.)
AT&T said it did not comment on RFIs, in response to Light Reading Mobile's questions.
In the U.S., AT&T's moves to evaluate small cells to boost network capacity in high-usage areas follows news that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) plans to launch LTE picocells by the end of this year. (See Sprint Tees Up LTE Small Cells and Why Sprint Needs 4G Small Cells.)
-- Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile