The network infrastructure planning teams at the world's mobile operators are set for information overload this week, with small cells kickstarting what is likely to be a week of multiple hardware, software and professional services announcements.
Both Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Nokia Networks have populated the small cell mosh pit today, with more expected to join the fray in the coming days. The former has unveiled details of its early 2015 multimode product launch plans -- a little later than originally envisaged. (See AlcaLu, Qualcomm Prep Multimode Small Cells.)
Nokia Networks, meanwhile, is claiming to be the first vendor to "introduce small cells with LTE-Advanced Carrier Aggregation capabilities" with its Flexi Zone G2 Pico family of small cells, though it may find that claim questioned by a few of its rivals by the end of this week.
Its new line will ultimately support a number of deployment options, including: 4x4 MIMO (multiple input, multiple out) with two LTE TDD carriers of 20MHz with Carrier Aggregation, or one FDD LTE 20MHz carrier; 2x2 MIMO dual band, with two FDD LTE 20MHz carriers; 2x2 MIMO Carrier Aggregation with either LTE TDD or FDD LTE.
However, the first G2 product to hit the market -- a 3.5GHz LTE TDD-Advanced small cell with 4x4 MIMO, carrier aggregation and integrated 802.11ac WiFi -- will not become commercially available until the second half of 2015.
The product launch comes hand-in-hand with an indoor planning service that, says the vendor, is enhanced by the use of 3D geolocation capabilities courtesy of its recent acquisition. (See Eurobites: Nokia Buys 3D Network Planning Tool.)
For more details of Nokia's offering, see its official announcement, Nokia Networks Expands Small Cell Range.
It's no surprise that the leading vendors are re-asserting themselves in the small cells sector, as network operators are desperate to improve their service performance levels inside buildings and are looking at ways to supplement their macro cell coverage outdoors too, with public access small cell deployments set to ramp in the coming years. (See Urban Jungle Is Still Too Wild for Small Cells and Know Your Small Cell: Home, Enterprise, or Public Access?)
Look out for further radio access network infrastructure announcements this week as Super Mobility Week unfolds in Las Vegas, where the likes of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and SpiderCloud Wireless will likely be adding to the small cell noise. The Light Reading team will be reporting from that event.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading