If you’ve been reading up on the AT&T-T-Mobile merger you probably heard that at the heart of this merger is AT&T getting lots of cell phone towers (and the bands that go with it). Turns out that between regulatory constraints, time and money it’s not so easy to just blanket a neighborhood with cell coverage and what AT&T is getting equates to about 5 years worth of construction. Well, in big cities there may be a new alternative that’s about to be set loose to help inexpensively and quickly cover a city. Alcatel-Lucent has shown off a Rubik’s Cube sized device that they call a lightRadio. It’s essentially a mini tower that’s more power efficient than a traditional tower and because of the size they can be dropped anywhere. This means you can have a mini-tower on a bus station or light post and if there’s a major event (like a sports event or marathon) and you need more coverage you can drop more cubes there. And they can carry 2G, 3G and 4G signals and even point the antennae to a specific direction to make it more efficient. So you have a power savings and ease of deployment.
Now so you know the coverage for these cubes is only about a two block radius but take a city like New York and it’s likely a lot easier to drop these than it is traditional towers. Obviously they don’t fully replace traditional towers but they work with them to blanket areas that need more coverage. Take a few office buildings, give them a mini tower and move on to the next site in quick manner.
Trials begin in September of this year and they are expecting to produce lightRadio’s in volume next year.