9 min read
Explore how Alcatel-Lucent is leading the way in Small Cells technology by creating the right innovative partnerships to provide a full service package to meet the demand we all place on the network.
Demand increasing by the minute

It’s 8pm on a Thursday and you’ve just left work. Rush hour is in full swing, rain spits onto your phone screen as you’re searching local cab numbers. People nearby seem to have the same idea; others are trying to flag down cabs, but they’re all full and crawling through heavy traffic.

Uber, Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, “Help! Come get me!”

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Our time is precious. And in shortest supply when you need information fastest. The problem? Data congestion. Everyone needs data at the same time, in the same place, and there’s only so much to go around.

“The network, the consumers, the demand…it’s growing fast,” says Mike Schabel, Senior Vice President of Small Cells, Wireless Division at Alcatel-Lucent.

There’s more data activity than the infrastructure can provide. More new products are coming to market, all demanding flawless connectivity.

We know that there’s a new market and new problem here to solve.

Mike Schabel
Senior Vice-President of Small Cells, Wireless Division at Alcatel-Lucent

"We need to create new innovations to deliver the network and deliver the data,” Schabel says. “Users are sending broadband traffic over wireless networks. To handle the expected volume, we would need to significantly increase the number of cell towers used in the network. So we made [base stations] smaller.”

By 2020 there will be over 70 billion connected devices globally

An Elegant, Innovative Solution

Small Cells are the result of powerful, cutting-edge technology, harnessed to create highly capable, but tiny, wireless cells. Small Cells are built to densify the network, allowing it to scale gracefully as demand grows. “The goal here is building a wireless data network that is going to be able to scale for generations,” Schabel says. “We worked with leading silicon and radio hardware manufacturers to design Small Cell platforms that allow us to build the highest-performing box in the smallest-possible size which can integrate inside of our environments.”

Small Cells, Big Impact

Each outdoor version of Alcatel-Lucent’s Small Cells has a coverage of up to 600 meters and can be integrated into bus shelters, sign holdings and other existing street furniture with minimal visual impact. Each cell supports hundreds of simultaneous users.

Cell Towers

Size: Up to 300ft

Coverage: 2 miles

Simultaneous users: 1000s

Bandwidth: Average 10-25 Mbps downlink per user

Small Cell

Size: 265mm high

Coverage: Up to 600 meters

Simultaneous users: Approx. 200

Bandwidth: Up to 150 Mbps downlink per user

A Small Cell is really very simple, think about the big base station that your mobile phone speaks to. A Small Cell is everything that’s in that tower – antenna, amplifiers, radios, digital processing – shrunk to the size of a shoebox.

Mike Schabel
Senior Vice President of Small Cells,
Wireless Division at Alcatel-Lucent

Cutting-edge technology,
embedded into the urban landscape

As well as size and capability, Small Cells can interoperate with the existing macro tower infrastructure. This allows the Small Cells to work seamlessly with other operators’ existing wireless services within a city, allowing the user to unknowingly move between the macro and Small Cell antennas, giving them a total connectivity user experience.

But the key to unlocking the innovation of Small Cells was the crucial strategic partnerships that enable their deployment as a complete service package.

A unique partnership

JCDecaux is the world’s leading outdoor advertiser. It has over one million assets in more than 3,700 cities and 63 countries, including street signs, billboards, hoardings, bus shelters, public hire cycles and more. JCDecaux has been forging relationships with city regulators, planners and civil architects and engineers, and building their expertise in advertising placement, for over 50 years.

Where there are people, there’s JCDecaux

Where there are people, there exists a demand for wireless. Acquiring sites to install network infrastructure is one of the major challenges for operators. JCDecaux has unique and extensive access to the world’s busiest urban landscapes, supplying services such as bus stops and advertising sites. By pioneering the delivery of services to cities, it has built a trust that opens doors and gets things moving quickly.

That’s really at the heart of what JCDecaux is about – to provide infrastructure and networks around the world, to help cities be better-connected, now and in the future.

Louis Molis
Managing Director, JCDecaux Link

“We’ve been working with companies like JCDecaux to ensure a smooth, simple delivery in new spaces for the wireless industry, by retrofitting into the existing street landscape,” says Schabel.

Lighting up cities
with connectivity

Amsterdam is home to nearly 2.5 million people, and one of Europe’s largest hubs of business, commerce and tourism. In partnership with JCDecaux and Vodafone, Alcatel-Lucent has helped put Amsterdam on the map as trailblazers in high-speed outdoor wireless connectivity.


Putting the network where the people are

Vodafone, one of the world’s leading service providers, recognizes that temporary contingency coverage at stadiums, events and other data hot spots was not a durable solution to the new challenges. They understood the potential of Small Cells not just as ‘capacity addition’ but used to ‘blanket’ the city to provide a reliable, seamless, fully scalable service delivery.

Kevin Salvadori, Vodafone Group Technology Strategy & Operations Director, was involved in the Amsterdam deployment. Small Cells help increase mobile networks' density of coverage, boosting capacity and offering high-speed access for all. Salvadori says:

With Alcatel-Lucent and JCDecaux, we have successfully deployed the Small Cell technology in Amsterdam, enhancing the network quality of our infrastructure.

Kevin Salvadori, Vodafone Group Technology Strategy & Operations Director

Densifying Amsterdam's Network
Densifying Amsterdam's Network
Macro Cell Tower coverage

Metro Small Cell coverage

Small Cells can seamlessly integrate with existing macro towers to blanket a city with additional capacity allowing users to have a total connectivity user experience.

Macro Cell Tower coverage

Metro Small Cell coverage

Small Cells can seamlessly integrate with existing macro towers to blanket a city with additional capacity allowing users to have a total connectivity user experience.

The Amsterdam deployment demonstrates the impact of Small Cells innovation, and how Vodafone was able to differentiate from competitors in quality of experience.

Costas Patsalos, Technical Project Manager at Alcatel-Lucent, worked on the deployment in Amsterdam. “With Small Cells installed, users were seeing five bars, they had better access to the network and a much better experience,” according to Costas.

It feels good and it makes me proud when I see people in the street browsing on their phone and you can see the smile on their faces.

Costas Patsalos, Technical Project Manager, Alcatel-Lucent

Amsterdam is just the beginning. Alcatel-Lucent and JCDecaux are dedicated to implementing Small Cells innovation in over 100,000 more sites worldwide.

The Future:
We've got it covered

Alcatel-Lucent understands that demand for high-capacity coverage isn’t going to stop. Many Fortune 500 companies are facing emerging challenges as their businesses increase their dependence on wireless networks.

That’s why Alcatel-Lucent has teamed up with Accenture to bring the right Wi - Fi / Cellular business solutions to enterprises with service providers.

“Accenture are a great example of that deep expertise in IT transformation. They bring to the table an understanding of how to help the enterprise adopt this technology,” says Schabel.

Small Cells is simply the next evolution of Wi-Fi. Bringing Wi-Fi economics to Small Cells is very constructive, not only financially, but also for the end-users, who now have superior user experience, performance and coverage.

Shahid Ahmed
Managing Director, Accenture

Partnering with expertise to make completely wireless enterprise a reality

In collaboration with Qualcomm, Alcatel-Lucent has developed a Small Cell solution to extend superior 3G, 4G, LTE, Wi-Fi connectivity and coverage indoors, into the enterprise space. The result is some cutting-edge innovations in respect to power, performance, size and capabilities. The partnership has built one of the most powerful and comprehensive products across the market.

Alcatel-Lucent is partnering with wireless fronthaul leaders, EBlink, to expand the LTE and Small Cells business, and to offer solutions that provide technological choices, as customers evolve their network architecture.

Small Cells are an essential component of the future’s wireless data networks, and Alcatel-Lucent has identified the key business partnerships that are crucial to unlocking the potential.

Alcatel-Lucent is pushing the boundaries, driving innovation and helping customers remain at the forefront of wireless technology.

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