Wireless Service Providers Rely on lightRadio to Optimize MIMO Gains on LTE Networks

Next Generation Communications Blog

Wireless Service Providers Rely on lightRadio to Optimize MIMO Gains on LTE Networks

By Susan J. Campbell

As a service provider, what potential opportunities emerge if you were able to improve capacity, coverage and performance? With lightRadio technologies, you can gain support for current and anticipated wireless technologies that will address quality and growth changes; combine advancements in radios, antennas and baseband processing to support cloud principles, virtualization and architectural flexibility; and enable easy reprogramming and reconfiguration of network elements.

In the Alcatel-Lucent
lightRadio Technology Overview, the innovations to address service provider challenges is explored. These challenges easily include adding more radios, antennas, towers and processing capacity; increasing spectral bandwidth; supporting new technologies; and making better use of cell site capacity. The development of lightRadio by Alcatel-Lucent focuses on optimizing total network costs over time so each wireless provider can make the most of their existing assets and capabilities.

The consistency of capacity and coverage relies heavily on antennas. In the past, wireless service providers have added passive transmit and receive antennas for each technology or radio when they needed improvement in these areas. lightRadio antennas eliminate this need as they rely on smart active antenna arrays (AAA) that deliver multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) gains and sophisticated beamforming in a very small footprint. This allows the wireless provider to dynamically direct radio frequency where it is needed according to cell load and traffic density.

The MIMO gains from lightRadio AAA offer the potential to improve capacity as much as 30 percent with vertical beamforming; lower power consumption through improved coverage; and improve the robustness of the antenna by allowing the reconfiguration of the array to effectively reduce the impact of failures within individual elements. Conventional passive antennas are supported with the lightRadio architecture and when combined with centralized baseband processing, signal-to-noise ratios are significantly improved.

A key focus for any wireless service provider is to make baseband processing more effective, efficient and economical. To accomplish this goal and increase capacity, the provider may look to the deployment of Long Term Evolution, or
LTE, in a new frequency band in a new antenna configuration, such as 4 x 4 MIMO. Even new technologies such as LTE-Advanced may offer benefits worth consideration.

LTE-Advanced offers carrier aggregation, or the bonding potential of separate frequency bands, as well as sophisticated methods for coordinating various base stations. Such methods include dynamic ICIC and coordinated multipoint transmission (CoMP). Spectral efficiency and end-user performance are enhanced with CoMP as the technology also works to increase network efficiency.

To increase capacity, wireless networks generally must increase the number of carriers or improve the spectral bandwidth for each carrier. If these increases occur in the same band, the same radio technology equipment can be reused. New antennas, baseband and radio equipment are required if spectral increases are in a new frequency. As capacity needs to match multiple factors, a combination of existing and emerging technologies is often the focus. lightRadio enables service providers to effectively deploy a solution that not only matches their needs, but also offers optimization from the antenna to the baseband processing and controller elements.

The lightRadio family of products relies on common digital baseband components across various products and radio technologies to offer service providers a consistent functionality and reusable common hardware and software components. The result is an optimized environment that promotes quality service delivery at a lower cost for improved revenue opportunities.

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