Alcatel-Lucent’s new small cells have commenced commercial deployment
Alcatel-Lucent announced that its breakthrough residential multi-standard small cell devices have commenced commercial deployment. Developed in collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies Inc. (QTI), a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc., Alcatel-Lucent’s new small cell technology will allow operators to extend superior 3G and 4G LTE connectivity and coverage into homes, substantially enhancing the in-home voice and data wireless experience via mobile devices.
Ensuring a high-performance experience inside homes has become a challenge, especially as consumers increase video consumption on mobile devices without paying attention to the network access technology they are using. If 3G and 4G LTE cellular networks do not reach into the home, the cellular experience could be compromised, requiring supplementation by Wi-Fi networks. While the industry continues to work hard to provide transitions between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, the alternative strategy is to simply ‘shrink’ the cellular network and bring it inside the home.
The Alcatel-Lucent 9961 Multi-Standard Home Cell (MSHC) introduces high-performance 4G LTE coverage for voice (VoLTE) and data services into the home, while also providing support for the still-large embedded base of 3G-based devices. At the same time, it provides users seamless mobility with the macro network as they move outside the home. The device is a security-hardened ‘plug-and-play’ unit, and is supported by a rapid provisioning management system from Alcatel-Lucent that allows users to set up the devices quickly and easily.
The rapid development of the MSHC home cell was a continuation of a long-standing collaboration between Alcatel-Lucent and Qualcomm Technologies on the 9962 Multi-Standard Enterprise Small Cell, launched in 2014, which has met commercial success in providing cellular 3G/4G and Wi-Fi coverage and capacity for medium and large indoor venues.
The 9961 MSHC can support both 3G and LTE connectivity on a single chipset. The FSM9900 series Qualcomm® chipset, on which the 9961 MSHC is based, also provides the ability to migrate the radio access technologies from 3G to 4G. It is a software-defined radio that allows operators to configure the small cell to support 3G, 4G or a mix of technologies. This will facilitate the future transition from 3G to 4G networks, allowing operators to reclaim spectrum for use in LTE networks.
Alcatel-Lucent chose the FSM9900 because it is designed to enable low-power, plug-and-play with UltraSONTM, small form factor small cells that are software configurable to simultaneously support WCDMA and LTE terminals.
Mike Schabel, vice president of the Small Cells Business, of Alcatel-Lucent said, “The industry has questioned whether 4G LTE is needed in the home if Wi-Fi is already present. We have observed that having excellent 3G and LTE home coverage ensures that the consumer’s experience for voice, video, and cellular is the same, no matter where they are, and with seamless mobility between the technologies. This simplifies the service provision for mobile operators, as the home cell effectively becomes an extension of the macro network architecture. We believe that Wi-Fi is an extremely important part of the wireless user experience, and believe the commercial availability of the 9961 MSHC is an important step towards building unified wireless networks that combine the best of cellular and unlicensed technologies.”
Neville Meijers, vice president Small Cells Business Development, Qualcomm Technologies said, “Qualcomm has worked extensively with Alcatel-Lucent to commercialize the 9961 MSHC for deployment in homes to provide robust data and voice capabilities. The industry is working on various solutions including residential small cells to meet the rapid increase in data consumption that Qualcomm refers to as the 1000x challenge. We are developing a series of highly integrated baseband and radio chipsets and software with SON capabilities that enable our customers to develop small cell products rapidly and cost effectively, and meet the high levels of performance that cellular subscribers expect.”