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Alcatel-Lucent’s revolutionary lightRadio could be available in the first quarter of 2012, reports Light Reading.

AlcaLu shunk the basestation, collapsing three radios into one tiny cube, 2.5 inches square. Each can operate between 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz. The end result: lightRadio cell towers don’t need huts, air conditioners and heaters, big amps, fans, or even local processing gear. Baseband processing moves closer to the data center and gets new capabilities like beamforming and load-balancing.

“The first elements of the lightRadio portfolio ship commercially in early 2012,” an AlcaLu spokesman told LR Mobile in an email. “Based on customer feedback and input the first products in the lightRadio portfolio will be the lightRadio MetroCell in 2012.”

Radio cubes are stacked in groups of 8 to 10 in order to make an antenna element. If one cube in the array goes down, the others remain unaffected. They can also do beamforming.

Alcatel-Lucent announced co-development with China Mobile, the biggest mobile operator in the world. The operator has chosen TD-LTE — similar to Clearwire’s announced support of LTE-Advanced.

The lightRadio design uses a new system-on-a-chip (SoC) from Freescale along with compression and virtualization software is expected to shrink the base station to about the size of a Rubik’s cube. The lightRadio MetroCell is based on the Freescale SoC.

The cube — or wideband active array antenna (WB-AAA) — will follow sometime in 2012, reports Light Reading. “The commercial products are going to be highly tuned to operators’ needs,” suggests the AlcaLu spokesman.

Sprint’s Network Vision architecture will be supplied by Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, and Samsung, which will replace their CDMA and iDEN gear with new frequency-and radio-agnostic equipment. It will likely feature both WiMAX and LTE-Advanced on their 2.6 GHz spectrum. Sequans is working with Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent and ZTE on LTE interoperability.

Related Dailywireless articles include; LightRadio: Mini Modular Cell Infrastructure, Personal 4G Basestation Chips, Alcatel-Lucent: TD-LTE Trial in Shanghai, Saudi Arabia: First to Get TD-LTE?, Clearwire Chooses LTE Advanced , Will Sprint Go TD-LTE?, WiMAX to TD-LTE: Everybody’s Doin’ It, Speculation on Sprint Infrastructure, LG Telecom: CDMA & LTE Handover, LTE Spectrum: It’s War, German 4G Auction: It’s Done, Auctions Winding Down in Germany & India,

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