Small cells

Verizon Taps AlcaLu & Ericsson for 4G Small Cells

The existing LTE suppliers to Verizon Wireless -- Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson AB -- are shrinking 4G into tiny small cells for deployment by the operator in the second half of the year.

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

DanJonesLRMobile 5/22/2013 | 5:42:41 PM
re: Verizon Taps AlcaLu & Ericsson for 4G Small Cells The details that aren't clear to me yet are how many small cells are going to be deployed and whether they are indoor or outdoor. I ran into Patrick Donegan yesterday, he still thinks they are on more of a hype curve than a solid deployment path right now. I tend to think that we're in the early stages still but that real deployment & tests are lurching into life.
Ray Le Maistre 5/22/2013 | 9:07:10 AM
re: Verizon Taps AlcaLu & Ericsson for 4G Small Cells This looks like the big one for LightRadio -- the Alcatel-Lucent wireless team absolutely has to deliver. I imagine the new CEO Michel Combes is taking a great interest in this development as he sizes up the company's assets.
DanJonesLRMobile 5/21/2013 | 11:33:23 PM
re: Verizon Taps AlcaLu & Ericsson for 4G Small Cells Even if AlcaLu isn't talking gear they say they have the equipment to do this, stuff like the 9764 Metro Cell Outdoor (MCO), which is based on its LightRadio tech. AT&T has been testing similar kit from AlcaLu too:

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