Alcatel-Lucent eyes cloud-based telco signal processing

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Alcatel-Lucent eyes cloud-based telco signal processing

To serve 'virtual telcos' of the future.

Alcatel-Lucent has shed further light on the cloud portion of its lightRadio base station technology, promoting its potential to pool signal processing across mobile networks.

According to researchers from the vendor's research arm, Bell Labs, signals today are typically processed near the caller by base station subsystems, which become heavily congested or underused at times like New Year’s Eve.

Bell Labs's Moritz Steiner hopes that telcos who roll out Alcatel-Lucent's lightRadio modules will be able to pool signal processing resources of cells across the network, such that signal processing capacity at an under-utilised cell could be used to process a flood of signals hitting any other cell site in the network.

Speaking at the University of Technology Sydney last week, Bell Labs researchers provided few details on the mechanics of the system and how it will operate without introducing unacceptable processing lags.

Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio wireless broadband portfolio also includes a remotely reprogrammable, pocket-sized antenna called the ‘lightRadio Cube’ being trialled in the US.

The lightRadio architecture breaks the traditional base station into component elements that are distributed throughout the network.

Some of the components that would usually be found in a base station are centralised.

Current lightRadio cloud technology allows central facilities to serve lightRadio antennas up to 20 kilometres away, but researchers were looking to do “centralisation on a larger scale”.

In population-dense cities like Tokyo or Beijing, the technology could allow telcos to aggregate 1000 different sites into a single signal-processing hub, Bell Labs' head of wireless research Tod Sizer said.

Australian telcos using the technology could, in the future, need only 121 centralised data centres at NBN points of interconnect to serve the entire country, Sizer said.

For comparison, Telstra currently uses about 7400 mobile base stations to serve its Next G network.

Sizer said NBN points of interconnect were “natural physical locations” for the mobile network data centres, which would rely on the fibre network for low-latency backhaul.

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