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April 28, 2014

Bell Labs Moving Towards Small Cells at Greater Speeds

While the biggest worry for cellular providers has long been coverage, today, most industry insiders agree the biggest worry these days is the ability to increase capacity. Companies are seeing a rather large increase in the need for more bandwidth because of the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices that can consume a massive amount of digital copies.

Holger Claussen, head of the department for autonomous networks and systems research at Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs, recently talked to TechWeekEurope and underlined the need for small cells and he believes that technology will end up saving the day.

If there is any company that knows what the next generation of phone companies are going to need in order to stay successful it would be Bell Labratories. Bell is a company that was started by Alexander Graham Bell in 1925 and the firm has been at the forefront of some of the tech world’s greatest advances including the transistor, the laser, the C++ programming language and wireless LANS.

The future of cellular technology is small cells, according to the company. The biggest question is how best to deploy the cells. Backhaul is one of the ways the company has been looking to get this technology rolled out. “Recently, there has been some work on large-scale antenna arrays, where you have hundreds of antennas and do beam-forming. If the number of transmitter antennas is much larger than the number of receiving terminals, you can get very high capacity. When this method is used for backhaul, a lot of channel estimation problems go away.” Claussen said.

Bell Labs is collaborating with a research team at the University of Edinburgh on light to RF converters. That technology uses an optical link to provide data and power to small cell technologies. The concept builds on earlier versions using conventional LED lightbulbs to broadcast data.

Bell Labs is also working on a self-learning network network software that includes “genetic evolution of algorithms.” These kinds of networks are more power efficient while also allowing network operators to better differentiate services.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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