Verizon said in a blog post Tuesday that it intends to start deploying base stations "about the size of a mini-refrigerator" in the second half of 2013. Small cells are typically deployed on lampposts, utility poles and building walls to increase voice capacity and data speeds.
The blog echoes the comments made by Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead earlier this month. (See Verizon CEO: Small Cells Coming in 2013.)
Verizon is calling 4G small cells a "complement" to its existing LTE network and distributed antenna system deployments in hard-to-cover areas like building basements. The operator currently has 497 live LTE markets, which represents 95 percent coverage of its existing 3G footprint.
Ericsson will initially be supplying its micro remote radio unit small cells (RRUS) for Verizon's 4G LTE network. Ericsson says the micro RRUS works with any baseband unit part of the radio base station (RBS) 6000 product line. This addresses one of the key concerns amongst operators about small cells -- that they play nice with, and sync well with, the larger macro network.
Ericsson says it will also provide a micro RBS 6501 for the Verizon network later this year.
So far, Alcatel-Lucent has simply said that it will be working with Verizon Wireless to deploy small cells.
Analysts had already told Light Reading Mobile that they expected Verizon's initial small-cell providers to be its macro network suppliers. The operator has good reason to stick with the known, especially with higher-power outdoor small cells, simply to ensure that the entire network -- from the core to the very edge -- will interoperate properly. (See Cisco: A Verizon 4G Small-Cell Provider?)
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile