By Beecher Tuttle
In order to succeed in the current wireless market dominated by bandwidth-hungry mobile applications, service providers need to find ways to expand network capacity while simultaneously reducing energy consumption and operating costs. This is quite a challenge to say the least.
Alcatel-Lucent's efforts in this area have resulted in some profound innovations, headlined by its new wireless networking paradigm, lightRadio™, which is designed to help service providers address growth and quality challenges.
The lightRadio technology family is comprised of innovations in antennas, radios and baseband processing, which combine to allow service providers to create next-generation architectures without the need to make complete infrastructure overhauls. Rather, lightRadio makes the most of existing wireless assets and capabilities to address cost, capacity and connectivity barriers.
The portfolio includes smaller, smarter and stronger antennas, as well as intelligent radios that can operate across multiple spectrum bands. The end result is an average 30 percent increase in capacity, significantly lower power consumption and dramatically reduced capital expenditures.
Best of all, lightRadio products can adapt to nearly any environment, including IP, fiber and microwave backhaul, even if the network is leased. The portfolio enables both Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and Fiber-to-the-Node (FTTN) copper backhaul.
In addition, lightRadio technology can support different baseband processing and backhaul configurations, making the process more efficient, effective and economical. With lightRadio's flexible nature, it can support remotely programmable baseband processing of all different forms of traffic, including LTE, W-CDMA and GSM, making it a strong fit for today's and tomorrow's network needs.
Service providers that embrace lightRadio technology are faced with two options for baseband processing, each with different backhaul requirements.
Baseband processing can be accomplished remotely, either in a baseband unit (BBU) integrated with the radio head, also known as an all-in-one BTS, or at the base of the cell tower. This option requires backhauling of radio signal samples that are latency-insensitive, asymmetric and low bit-rate.
The other option is centralized baseband processing, which utilizes a pool of cloud-based resources and is performed from remote radio heads (RRHs) and antennas. Unlike the remote processing option, centralized baseband processing requires backhauling symmetric, latency sensitive and typically high bit rate streams of IP traffic.
"This architectural flexibility allows the widest deployment and reuse of existing infrastructure, using a combination of IP backhauling and CPRI interconnect," ALU senior product marketing directors Steve Kemp and Tom Gruba in a recent TechZine article, lightRadio™ Technology Overview, noted that, "It also helps to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and accelerates deployments."
In a separateTechZine posting, lightRadio™ Baseband Processing and Backhauling, Alcatel-Lucent's Debra Dicke and Pedro Cameirao detail several specific cases where lightRadio products can help service providers position their network as a cost-effective revenue generator.
In this piece, the two authors point out where centralized baseband processing is most appropriate, such as when there is scarce dark fiber in both the first and second miles, and when remote all-in-one or conventional distributed baseband processing is most suitable, like in a leased fiber backhaul network.
"lightRadio is designed to support a variety of baseband processing and backhaul options," they write. "For example, wireless service providers can take advantage of CPRI interconnect and backhaul. They can also take advantage of centralized baseband processing beyond the obvious scenario — where they already own dark fiber between the base station and a centralized processing site."
In other words, interested in reducing total cost of ownership (TCO), lightRadio providers a practical and cost-effective path to the future.