It took the cell phone several generations to shrink from those oft-mocked Motorola DynaTACs to the slender, pocketable smartphones we have today. But it seems the cell phone tower is poised to make the move from large to very, very small in just one leap. French mobile tech maker Alcatel-Lucent today unveiled a new technology that reduces cell tower base station components—usually housed in a file cabinet-sized casing—to a device the size of a Rubik's cube.
The technology, known as lightRadio, chops existing cell tower technologies into pieces and redistributes them in a way that allows for smaller, more numerous towers that are less intrusive and that work with all frequencies and technologies currently used, from 2G up to the latest 4G/LTE signals.
To sum the tech up neatly, the radio components—radio, amplifier, diplexer, etc.—are shrunk into the cube itself. These cubes can be stacked or distributed on or near an antenna, with about 20 cubes necessary to replace the average 3G base station today. The processing components are separated from the radio components, meaning they can be mounted at the base as they were before or—more efficiently—in a centralized locale connected to the cell tower by fiber optic cable.
This arrangement creates a bevy of benefits for both carriers and users. For one, antennas can be smaller and put in more places, increasing signal and decreasing to obtrusiveness of huge antenna masts. The centralization of the data processing components mean that rather than assigning processing power to a certain antenna, it can be diverted from antennas experiencing low loads to antennas that need extra processing power, allegedly doubling the capacity available to any given user at any given time.
Futher—and this might be Alcatel-Lucents most ambitious claim—lightRadio can cut both the financial and energy costs of operating a network by more than half. This is accounted for by a reduction in the energy needed to run a given base station and the fact that base stations can be upgraded quickly and easily; those that need more broadcast power can simply have more cubes added to their arrays, and if one cube fails, the others will continue to function, reducing the impact of outages and simplifying maintenance.
That is, if all of the technology works. But we won't have to wait long to find out. LightRadio is getting a public test-drive at the Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona. Alcatel-Lucent plans to trial it later this year, with commercial deployment scheduled for 2011.
kind of like the micro cell I have in my home. five bar coverage in every room.
Stick 1 on top of every telephone pole
Please Verizon Wireless? Needed in downtown Chicago stat.
i believe the author would be more accurate by saying "channel assigned to a specific frequency" rather than antenna throughout this article.
@funkyskunk2 congrats!!! your idea just bankrupted the entire world.
That's one small step for a phone, one giant leap for tower.
you give no proof. and also, how in hell would this bankrupt antarctica, or iceland?
@gigaflop iceland is already bankrupt, i believe.
"@funkyskunk2 congrats!!! your idea just bankrupted the entire world."
Supposedly there are 134 million poles in the us. Verizon and at&t have around 200 million subscribers. Bankrupt, yeah sure.
@funkyskunk2 why is it so hard for people to use their heads. How much do you think one of these cubes cost? 1 dollar? 10 dolars? hardley. my guess would be 1000 bucks each. probably more like 5k or 10k if not EVEN MORE. Its a fully functional 4G (mega high band width) cell tower shrunk 1000 times normal size.
let me ask you a REALLY simple question. what is 134,000,000 poles times 1000$ for each state of the art cell tower cube.
134,000,000,000. Okay that is low balling and it 134 BILLION$. more than all the cell companies in the ENTIRE world are worth. that just the USA. how many poles do you think are in the world. so the low ball figure of 134 billion is more like 10 trillion dollars. YES that would bankrupt the world.
even if each cube ONLY cost 100 bucks, which it wont. it would still cost the USA 13 billion dollars. We are only spending 5 billion to upgrade the ENTIRE country to (pseudo)4G!
its really not f$$$ing difficult.
@GigaFlop yeah you are right. I didn't think about those too places. And north Korea doesnt even have electricity so it wouldn't effect them either. but the other 245 countries would be pretty &&&&&ed. and I hope my common sense and very simple to follow calculations and estimates are enough proof. I am not really trying to give proof. just my opinion on the subject. using my brain unlike some people who like to post here (not referring to you)
I am sorry. I just cant stop thinking about this. I want to revise my low ball estimate of 134 billion dollars. I think it would be at least double or triple that, still low balling.
The 5 billion being spent on the 4G network it an upgrade to an existing infrastructure. To put one these cubes on every pole in the USA would require an ENTIRE new cell infrastructure to be built. New wires run on EVERY single poll. we are talking millions of miles of cable.
I will offer a better idea rather than just berating the one that f$ckedaskunk gave. Use these cubes to help the existing network with holes and patches of weak coverage. also many towns and municipalities don't want a huge tall cell tower in the middle of their city. Many cites have rules against any building that is higher than, for example, two or three stories. these would be perfect in that case. There may also be low population areas where a full blown cell tower is not worth the cost. a few of these can change such problems. for the time being I don't see these replacing existing towers. billions have been spent over 20 years putting them up. They are a great infrastructure that simply has some holes here and there as where another brand new tower just wouldn't make sense.
I shouldn't be so hard on people. It is kinda cute how "educated" adults still have ideas similar to my Jr. High science students.
Wow... I have to add to this discussion because inaka_rob is on one he!! of a high horse here.
Let's go with the assumption that new wires do not need run (for shi*s and giggles). Now let's say that there are 150 million poles and 200 million subscribers. Essentially that means that each subscriber would be paying for 3/4 of a cube. Let's say the cube costs $1000 and has an average life of say... 10 years. If you were to divide that per year it would cost $100. Now if you only own 3/4 of that, that means it would cost $75 per person per year to add these into the system. That means the $50/month one might pay for a cell phone bill would cover the actual cost of that block in 20 months (lower than the normal 2 year contract, and much quicker than the 10 year life expectancy). That means the cell phone companies not only would receive one heck of an economic boost, they would also have enough money to cover all of the new wires necessary.
So please get off of your belief that this person is uneducated and crunch the real numbers yourself. Yes, it would cost billions, but that's spread out between 100's of millions of people.
i cant believe you spent an hour thinking about telephone poles!XD
@wolfenstein79 actully the 1000 is more like 50,000$ just the electronics at the base of cell tower cost about 100,000 to 200,000. Those same electronics will be in the cube. I am sure the cost wont be as much. but 1000 is out of the question. I was simply choosing the LOWEST possible number to get my point across.
and to be fair my first post was simply meant as a joke. but funkyskunk took it way too personal. so I decided to explain why I trying to be funny.
um... I didnt spend an hour thinking about poles. I spent about 30 seconds. then the 5 minutes it took to write all these posts. Its really not that hard to think about how impossible it would be to put one of these all poles.
@wolfenstein79 ummm. I think EPIC fail is in order. I didnt call funkyskunk UNeducated. I called him EDUCATED. please read my post before you get on YOUR high horse.
your numbers make ZERO logical sense. They would not get 200 million new subscribers. your numbers and explanation would only make sense if they increased the current subscribers to 400 million. DOUBLING. The 200 million they already have covers the costs that CURRENTLY exist. like I said they have companies to run, rent to pay for, power, employees to pay for, 5 billion for 4G upgrades. etc. The customers they have now is enough for the costs they have now. putting a cube on every pole would make those existing costs 1000 fold. And they would get ZERO new subscribers.
if you REALLY want to pick hairs about this. lets just say all the wires are free. What about man power. It take 1 crew of guys to put up a tower and run the FREE wires to 1 cell node. Now multiply that by 134 million (that is the current estimate of polls fyi). The cell companies would have to hire MASSIVE amounts of crews to handle this increasing the cost EVEN higher. that or it would take 10 years to finish this, and buy then we will have upgraded our system AT LEAST 2 more times rending all the cubes you put at the beginning obsolete. so the only choice is to put them up in a year or two forcing you to hire MASSIVE teems of working to string new cables on all the polls, making them pointless because it should be a WIRELESS network, not increase all the wires in the usa by insane numbers. Look at a bad storm. When it knocks the power out, say in a hurricane or bad snow storm, often they send in all the power companies from 3 or 4 or even 5 states and it still takes WEEKS to get the lines re-run. That is EVERY single worker from 5 states working around the clock at an INSAINE cost of money, and its still takes weeks only to do a small section of the grid. I am not calling you uneducated either. just the opposite. I am glad you replied. nothing like a good argument and idea to get the brain stimulated.
Can everyone here understand that a normal cell tower covers a large area alone. If you put one of those in EACH TELEPHONE POLE in the WHOLE WORLD it would be wasting about 9/10 of the cubes built. They article already says it preforms the same function as regular towers, so that doesn't mean we must place them every 50 feet to have coverage. Common sense is better than "crunching the numbers" or spending hours pushing a pencil.
*correction* about a thousand times that fraction.
Congrats to all of you, who just spent 20 minutes of your life reading, writing, and arguing about something non of you can or will ever prove. Now, if only I hadn't wasted 5 minutes of my life reading through this---- oh well regardless we all FAIL together!
would inaka_rob please shut the hell up!
@drchuck1 wow. you could do something called not read the comments if you don't want too. and lricadro101 its called thinking. I don't mind a little thought game here and there. its amazing. I come across as a dick head when I am arguing with someone about a science article. some propel like you and drchuck are just dick head for absolutely no reason and thank for adding ZERO to the discussion.
and thank you @wltstab1
I made one simple comment at the very start, and that was my real ONLY point. it would be a waste to use so many cubes. but no one could see the humor or the point I was trying to make.
I wasn't talking about you saying they bankrupted the world. I said their ideas of putting them within 100 feet of each other is beyond ridiculous. So i guess thanks to you for responding unnecessarily to my comment.
Never meant to offend anyone, Inaka_rob. Like I said we'll never be able to directly disproof or proof this so there's no real need to waste time arguing about this when there's so much other information out here, that you could be reading about. Like I also said, We all Fail together since we where all discussing this when we could have been looking for much more productive stuff.
First of all everyone should read the article a little slower and try to retain the information in it. I’m not naming anyone but I saw a lot of misinformation in a few statements. i.e. one of these cubes does NOT do the same as the existing equipment. The article clearly stated that it would take 20 of these cubes to replace just 1 3g base station and since there are on average 2-5 base stations on any given site I will let you do the math. The article also stated that these were not antennas but allowed for smaller antennas to be used in more locations. For those of you who don’t understand that means that they would put these cube all over the place accompanied with smaller antennas and not concentrate them all on existing sites. "This arrangement creates a bevy of benefits for both carriers and users. For one, antennas can be smaller and put in more places." Now the article didn’t say what those places would be but it seems that telephone pole might be an ideal location and would definitely fit the description of "more places". I don’t know about every pole but you would definitely need to put them on a lot of poles if you’re only putting one on each. as far as them being too close to each other that is based on the power settings and for the system engineer to figure out but all in all not such a bad idea for your average person to suggest. In fact there is already an idea floating around that is very similar to this one. It involves interconnecting microcells on privately owned houses. These microcells would not just provide cells service but your houses internet and TV service as well. I’m just saying that most of you that are arguing have little to no idea how the actual system works and before you go shooting someone’s ideas down first educate yourselves. All of the ideas out there are good in some sense. I’m sure that a lot of holes could be poked in any of these ideas. No idea is perfect the first time around but to discourage someone thinking or expressing their ideas is just plain stupidity. Instead of spending your time shooting down someone else’s idea try coming up with one yourself.