Alcatel-Lucent is launching a new portfolio of LTE radio access network technologies that will enable operators to make a smooth transition to next-generation network architectures, including the application of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and the introduction of 5G services.

The new LTE RAN portfolio aims to address the biggest challenge mobile operators will face in the near future – the ability to meet demand for capacity-consuming data services such as video.

In particular, Alcatel-Lucent’s new 9926 eNodeB – comprising a digital baseband unit and RF platform – provides the flexibility to utilize existing radio spectrum and deliver the high-bandwidth LTE services needed to meet increasing demand. In the process, it allows operators to increase capacity and improve spectrum utilization more efficiently, while simplifying deployments and lowering costs.

The new digital baseband unit (BBU) will help operators balance operational costs while meeting increased demands by consuming 50 percent less energy and almost tripling existing capacity – supporting up to 24 radio cells and 16,000 users in one unit.

Supporting both LTE-TDD and LTE-FDD 4G technologies, the baseband unit can be deployed with existing BBUs, allowing operators to maximise existing investments in radio access technology. The baseband unit has also been designed to allow operators to deploy centralized network architecture, providing a smooth evolutionary path towards next-generation networks, including the implementation of virtualized RAN – or vRAN infrastructure – as well as the eventual launch of 5G networks.

The portfolio’s RF platform is offered in an ergonomic, modular design optimized in terms of size, power, bandwidth, performance and reliability. Using common hardware and software assets across spectrum bands, it allows for simple adaptation to meet specific customer needs, reducing time-to-market and leveraging innovation developed for other bands or configurations. Wideband capabilities allow operators to utilize fragmented spectrum, covering entire bands with one radio, while remote software configuration of transmission modes means it can easily and quickly be adapted in the field to meet changing market demands and traffic patterns.

Glenn Booth, senior vice president and general manger of Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE Business Unit said, “Understanding our customers’ biggest challenges and delivering solutions to meet them better than anyone else is our mission. Our refreshed RAN portfolio is targeted to meet exactly those challenges by addressing LTE networks densification particularly in urban environments in a sustainable and cost effective way. This new platform also sets the stage for a smooth transition to a virtualized RAN and, ultimately, to a 5G family of solutions.”

“Working closely with Alcatel Lucent, Freescale has created the industry’s highest-performance SoC solution enabling full basestation-on-chip functionality,” said Tom Deitrich, senior vice president and general manager of Freescale’s Digital Networking group. “A multi-year, multi-generation hardware/software partnership is helping to deliver world-class network performance, throughput and capacity for Alcatel Lucent’s RAN portfolio.”