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Alcatel-Lucent Boosts Its Mobile Backhaul Portfolio For The Small Cell Era

PARIS, Oct. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) is expanding and enhancing its mobile backhaul portfolio to address the challenges associated with delivering mobile broadband services in crowded, urban environments where growing customer demand is creating a need for a rapid introduction of small cells.

Small cells are compact base stations that boost wireless capacity and coverage where it is most needed in busy public locations and highly populated areas. This has major implications for the mobile network - some operators may need to deploy and manage as many as 10 new small cell sites for each macro cell site, and to accommodate up to a 25-fold increase in mobile traffic demand over the next four years.

As importantly, small cells can be deployed in a diverse range of public locations such as lampposts, bus stops, public buildings and stadiums. To provide access to the network and transport back to the core for all of these new sites, operators will need to employ an equally diverse range of mobile backhaul methods – optical fiber, copper, microwave, Ethernet - which can make their backhaul networks very complex to manage.

The enhancements to Alcatel-Lucent's mobile backhaul portfolio offer operators a consistent and cost-effective approach to delivering the backhaul resources needed to address massive increases in bandwidth, and also support the growing variety of wireless cell types and locations. Alcatel-Lucent also is making it easier for mobile operators to manage data traffic across all types of backhaul links in a more cost-effective way while ensuring that mobile broadband services can be delivered with the levels of quality consumers are demanding.

Nick Marshall, Principal Analyst, Mobile Networks at ABI Research, said: "This announcement helps strengthen Alcatel-Lucent's position as one of the top vendors in the mobile backhaul market. Enhancements to address small cell backhaul help to make small cells a more attractive and viable way to address demand for ubiquitous high-quality mobile broadband. The ability to use the network for macro and metro means even greater economies of scale – which is critical given escalating mobile broadband demand."

Mobile Backhaul Enhancements

Alcatel-Lucent's expanded mobile backhaul portfolio delivers greater scale and flexibility, and leverages the company's Internet protocol (IP)/multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) capabilities to provide a consistent approach to supporting backhaul whether it is delivered over fiber, copper or microwave. This approach helps to simplify the deployment and on-going operations of the backhaul network, even as it helps to reduce mobile operators' costs. Specific enhancements include:
  • New variants of Alcatel-Lucent's 7705 Service Aggregation Router (SAR) family provide unmatched flexibility to support any mobile service (3G, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi) over any backhaul access, leveraging any networking topology. The new 7705 SAR offerings provide an end-to-end service layer for more efficient OAM (operations, administration and management) while ensuring any issues can be quickly and efficiently resolved. Advanced timing/synchronization, flexible powering options, and Auto-Discovery and Provisioning (ADP) capabilities provide a simplified, common approach to small cell backhaul deployment.
  • An expanded range of microwave transport solutions enable quicker deployments, and multiple options to address a broader range of backhaul access scenarios, including 60 gigahertz (Ghz) point-to-point line-of-sight, and sub 6 Ghz for point-to-point and point-to-multipoint non-line-of-sight applications.
  • Increased capacity on the company's flagship 9500 Microwave Packet Radio platform brings greater backhaul bandwidth capabilities to mobile operators for both their macro and small cell sites.
  • Optimization of the company's existing broadband access portfolio to support small cell backhaul requirements. New copper- and fiber-based small cell backhaul access solutions enable mobile operators to make better use of their existing broadband network to backhaul metro cell networks at low incremental cost.
  • A broader range of professional services to help design, optimize and deploy backhaul networks to support metro cell deployments further extends the recently announced Alcatel-Lucent lightRadio™ Metrocell Express 'build-operate-transfer' solution for turnkey deployments.

Philippe Keryer, President of Alcatel-Lucent's Networks Group, said: "The combination of our strengths in IP, optics, microwave, fixed access and wireless puts us in a relatively unique position amongst the other vendors in the market, and places us in an ideal position to address the mobile backhaul challenge with the introduction of small cell deployments. Not only do we offer the most comprehensive set of backhaul options in the industry, we also bring unmatched solution integration experience to the table. We are confident that our leadership in mobile backhaul will only increase in the metro cell era."

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