BelAir Small Cell Packs Backhaul Punch

BelAir Networks Inc. 's newest small cell product not only sports support for 3G, Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiFi, but it packs in wireless backhaul options, too.

The BelAir2100 Metrocell supports HSPA/HPSA+, CDMA2000 1xEV-DO, LTE, 802.11n WiFi, and wireless backhaul in the 5GHz unlicensed band, which can be point-to-point or point-to-multipoint, and all in one compact box that can be mounted on lampposts. That's why the vendor likes to call it a "Hetnet-in-a-box."

The idea is that the small base stations will give mobile operators options for WiFi offload as well as adding capacity to 3G networks.

According to BelAir CTO Stephen Rayment, the product will go into trials with Tier 1 carriers "around the world" in the coming months.

"We're at the RFP stage [for small cells]," he said. "Operators are beyond the stage of wondering ... the challenge of building small cells is behind us."

Why this matters
Small cells are hot as operators look for ways to boost capacity in high traffic locations on their 3G networks. But deploying cost-effective, reliable backhaul to these small base stations remains a challenge for operators. By combining wireless, as well as wireline, backhaul options with the cellular and WiFi access technologies, BelAir is looking to resolve this issue for operators.

For more
For more on small cells and how vendors are addressing backhaul for them, check out:

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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