With all the innovation in devices and applications, it’s no surprise that mobile voice and data usage has skyrocketed. In just three years, the Sprint network has seen 1,000 percent growth, said Wim Sweldens, wireless division president for Alcatel-Lucent. Sweldens recently attended GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in San Francisco.
And over the next three to four years, Alcatel-Lucent predicts a 30x data explosion — all driven by cloud services accessed via mobile devices.
The continued usage is fantastic, but the costs aren’t. The traditional ways mobile networks are built can’t sustain this level of growth. Network providers need to cut costs dramatically, said Sweldens.
The easiest and most common way to build more bandwidth in mobile networks: Put up more towers. And that can be costly and unsightly. In an effort to dramatically reduce costs, Alcatel-Lucent is working on a light radio that takes all the functional aspects of a tower and compresses it into a box the size of a Rubik’s Cube.
Tests show that, though small in size, these devices are mighty in potential, reducing the total cost of ownership and power used by 50 percent. Stay tuned — the company promises a more formal announcement on this fundamental new way of building mobile broadband networks later this year.