Global telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent has unveiled a technology that would be a game changer in mobile telephony across Kenya.
Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio technology which the company has officially introduced in the Kenyan market aims to render the towering base transmitting stations (antennae masts) obsolete.
The tiny gadget that fits in the hand palm, will replace the bulky, expensive and energy inefficient base stations operated by mobile companies in Kenya.
According to Alcatel Lucent CEO, Tony Woods, mobile operators in Africa incur substantial costs in setting up and maintaining cell towers.
This brand will free the mobile sector around the world from its dependence on antenna masts and mobile base stations (cell towers), which are generally the most energy-consuming components of the network, and also the most expensive and difficult to maintain.”
This, accoirding to Mr. Woods comes at a time of rapid mobile traffic growth and the lightRadio system is expected to simplify mobile networks, expand network capacity, lower operating costs, reduce energy consumption and bring connectivity to everyone around the world.
The challenge of relying on antennae masts and cell towers has often been compounded by adverse weather conditions, unreliable power supply, theft and high cost of fuel.
However the LightRadio gadget promises to bolster mobile service providers operations by improving capacity, coverage and performance.
Mr Wood said the LightRadio uses ‘IP microwave which helps because many parts in Africa have not been reached by the fibre cable’ and that the technology will help Alcatel Lucent and Kenya’s government in bringing connectivity to the masses.
“Alcatel’s own research shows lightRadio reduces energy consumption of mobile networks by up to 50 per cent…mobile service providers have already expressed interest in the lightRadio technology and we are ready to roll them out,” said Mr Wood.
Mr Wood said Alcatel Lucent tested the technology in Barcelona during a recent technology conference and it worked.
Besides, he said the company has been working with four of the biggest telecommunications companies in Europe, Asia and Middle East to deploy the LightRadio. These include Orange Telecom, Etisalat, Telefonica and China Mobile – which is the biggest mobile operator by subscribers in the world.
Developed by Bell Labs, the new technology works by creating a new architecture where the base station, typically located at the base of each cell tower, is broken into its component elements and distributed through the network or ‘carrier cloud’.
Additionally the various cell towers antennas are combined and shrunk into a single powerful multi frequency, multi standard (2G, 3G, LTE) device that can be mounted on poles, sides of building or anywhere else there is power and a broadband connection.
The Kenya government is already holding discussions with several stakeholders, including Alcatel-lucent, on rolling out an LTE network which is faster and more dynamic than the current 3G network used by some operators.