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Alcatel-Lucent Shrinks Mobile Cell Tower To Small Cube

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the sprinkle-lightly-over-entire-country dept.

Cellphones 113

pbahra writes "French mobile telephone infrastructure manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent today unveiled technology that shrinks a mobile cell tower to a box the size of a Rubik's cube, potentially changing the structure of the cellular network, reducing greenhouse emissions and bringing mobile broadband into new areas. According to Wim Sweldens, president of wireless activities for Alcatel-Lucent, by reducing the technology from something the size of a filing cabinet, networks would reduce the total cost of ownership by half, as well as halving the global CO2 emissions from the mobile industry — currently equivalent of 15 million cars a year."

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113 comments

Your cell tower has been crushed into a cube (2, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128812)

You have 30 minutes to move your cube.

Re:Your cell tower has been crushed into a cube (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35129104)

"reducing greenhouse emissions"

How much longer are these 'caring' tossers who run businesses going to run with this bullshit?

www.climatedepot.com

There IS no man made global warming. There is no global warming, period.

Re:Your cell tower has been crushed into a cube (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35129274)

There IS no man made global warming. There is no global warming, period.

Says an Anonymous, with no links.

Myself, I had to shovel several feet of global warming in the past few weeks, so don't tell me there's no such thing.

Re:Your cell tower has been crushed into a cube (-1, Flamebait)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129390)

"natural selection"

How much longer are these 'scientist' tossers who run labs going to run with this bullshit?

www.intelligentdesign.org

There IS no chance mutation. There is no mutation, period.

Re:Your cell tower has been crushed into a cube (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129814)

Yes because having more breathable air, having cheaper power and having a better overall quality of life is so bullshit.

Even if AGW deniers such as yourself were correct about AGW, there are many MANY external benefits to going green and clean.

Re:Your cell tower has been crushed into a cube (1)

Pax681 (1002592) | more than 3 years ago | (#35130524)

tbh i am not fully convinced about global warming BUT.. i do use the energy saving light bulbs etc as i DO believe cheaper bills are funky

Re:Your cell tower has been crushed into a cube (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 3 years ago | (#35130804)

I'm with you on that one. Sure, I may be saving the environment, but first I'm going to save my cash by lowering my electric bill. Call me self centered, but thats what works for me. If all the AGW people would quit telling people to save the world, and tell them to save money on fuel and electricity, they could accomplish twice as much in half the time. People are naturally greedy and self centered, and you have to work with that, not force some altruistic mindset on them.

Just another microcell (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128832)

They have a microcell, one about the same size as everybody else's microcells. Big deal.

Not another microcell (5, Informative)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128950)

From TFA:

Other manufacturers have previously offered what are known as micro, femto or pico cell devices, which typically are used to take cellular traffic off congested 3G networks and delivered over broadband connections. Alcatel-Lucent claims their offering differs in that existing devices are mainly used to supplement existing cell towers in areas of high demand, such as railway stations and sports events, rather than replace them.

Also, elsewhere in TFA they talk (without much detail) about how these devices scale from just two in small usage cases or can be stacked somehow to have the same number of connections as a full cell tower. Most microcells I've seen are only connecting double-digit subscribers, at best.

Re:Not another microcell (3, Informative)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129022)

I was installing something similar when working for NZ telecom mobile back in about 2000. It was a bit bigger (50cmX50cmX25cm IIRC) and we were using them as "main" towers. Not supplements. I am not surprised that they are than much smaller now.

Disaster response (3, Interesting)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129476)

Perhaps a goofy question, but could the Alcatel-Lucent device in TFA be used to establish cellular coverage in an disaster area?

Seems like small cube + antenna + battery bank + solar panels || generators would be portable enough for, say, a red cross disaster response team...

Re:Disaster response (2)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129842)

These require fiber backhaul to a baseband processor, so no, they're not really designed for that. Current cell phone towers are much more monolithic and independent than these, which move most of the processing off-site.

Re:Disaster response (1)

sg3000 (87992) | more than 3 years ago | (#35132462)

These require fiber backhaul to a baseband processor, so no, they're not really designed for that.

On ALU's website [alcatel-lucent.com], they say the cube would have microwave for backhaul and could use solar or wind for power, so for those cases it could be used for that.

Re:Disaster response (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35130666)

We had a few mobile units. However these where older, so where not just the size of a truck. It was a truck. This included a antenna, generator, cell site and microwave link. Otherwise the other poster is correct, fiber or even older cable back haul was often as expensive and time consuming to get installed as the site itself.

Re:Disaster response (1)

wheatking (608436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35132346)

drop some of these 'cubes' in Tahrir square i say -- then breadcrumb them all the way to the nearest border...

Re:Not another microcell (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129278)

>>>only connecting double-digit subscribers

How on earth do they squeeze that many conversations into a few kilobits of datastream?

Re:Not another microcell (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35131724)

Most voice DMS systems only encode 4KHz of the frequencies that actually get picked up. Everything else is dropped.. Cell phones aren't that different, except that the encoding is done at the phone rather than a central DMS.

Re:Not another microcell (2)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129430)

Also, elsewhere in TFA they talk (without much detail) about how these devices scale from just two in small usage cases or can be stacked somehow to have the same number of connections as a full cell tower.

...and these stacks of cubes only need to be between 150 and 300 feet high for this ;)

Re:Just another microcell (2, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128956)

RTFA:

"Other manufacturers have previously offered what are known as micro, femto or pico cell devices, which typically are used to take cellular traffic off congested 3G networks and delivered over broadband connections. Alcatel-Lucent claims their offering differs in that existing devices are mainly used to supplement existing cell towers in areas of high demand, such as railway stations and sports events, rather than replace them."

Cheers,
Ian

off course! (0)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128884)

reduce greenhouse gas! who would have thought that mobiles run on smoke signals!

The CO2 thing is really just a marketing argument these days

Re:off course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35128972)

Oh my god! They're off course! Quick! Find a moron who can't tell OF from OFF!!!!

Wow (1, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128934)

Now if you could just take one of those cubes, attach a battery, and make it mobile... you'd have a mobile phone!

Re:Wow (1)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129804)

You know that is a rather interesting idea. Remove cell towers in areas where there are plenty of cell phones and use peer to peer networks. Though that idea has probably already been blown away for reasons I haven't read yet...

Re:Wow (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129948)

Other have proposed that idea, and still others have rejected it because each hop adds round trip delay. So while peer-to-peer is great for message passing, it sucks for real-time audio. SMS texting, on the other hand, would do fine on a peer-to-peer network.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35130030)

There are many issues with such a network, but the one with no real solution is battery life. Transmitting your own data eats enough battery life as it is. Transmitting for everyone around you would drain it an order of magnitude faster.

Re:Wow (1)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35130210)

If each unit could cut power to the level required to reach a nearby unit, the power requirement would be a fair bit lower. Probably not enough though...

um... bad title? (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128936)

The title says they reduced a cell TOWER to the size of a cube, then they show a picture of a guy holding a cube and say it replaces the filing cabinet behind him. Is the tower still required or no? Because I'm fairly sure than most of the cost in a cell tower is the land required by the tower and feeder trunks. If this doesn't replace either then it's pretty much worthless.

No substitute for human ingenuity (4, Funny)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128984)

Perhaps the guy holding the cube is the replacement for the tower.

Say the reception is not so good on a rainy day. With a tower, there's nothing you can do, the tower is bolted to the ground.

But the guy holding the cube, you can tell him "Turn a little bit more to the right ... sorry, I meant my right, not your right ... okay, that's better."

Re:No substitute for human ingenuity (3, Insightful)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129114)

And when the guy holding it gets bored, reception in the nearest pub probably becomes fantastic!

Re:No substitute for human ingenuity (3, Funny)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129408)

Does mean we can get the annoying Verizon wireless guy to hold this way up high in the middle of a thunderstorm?

Re:No substitute for human ingenuity (1)

present_arms (848116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129520)

Perhaps the guy holding the cube is the replacement for the tower.

. I will NOT be the one holding that in a thunder storm

Re:um... bad title? (5, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129074)

The title says they reduced a cell TOWER to the size of a cube, then they show a picture of a guy holding a cube and say it replaces the filing cabinet behind him. Is the tower still required or no? Because I'm fairly sure than most of the cost in a cell tower is the land required by the tower and feeder trunks. If this doesn't replace either then it's pretty much worthless.

There are two parts to this: smaller, modular baseband radios that can be (somehow, magically) clumped together so you can put the electronics in a central spot and minimize the 'shack' below the antenna mast and wider frequency antennas that minimize the number of 'funny rectangular things' hanging off the mast which, as a bonus, have an integral microwave amplifier. Sounds basically like they've managed to rackmount the radios and put the microwave amplifiers up in the mast so you don't lose as much power.

Remember, cable losses at microwave frequencies is a big, big deal. I'm rather surprised that the amps haven't been mast mounted. Of course, TFA is light on useful details but it sounds like some reasonably advanced incremental engineering efforts.

Re:um... bad title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35132756)

Sounds basically like they've managed to rackmount the radios and put the microwave amplifiers up in the mast so you don't lose as much power.

That's how remote radio heads work -- the power amplifiers are on the mast head, and the baseband processing units are in shed on the ground, connected via fiber optics. Other infrastructure vendors have been doing this, but it sounds like Alcatel-Lucent is going a step further.

Looking at this example diagram [withoutthecat.com], it looks like this architecture combines the RRH (yellow box), antennas (green/blue boxes), microwave backhaul (red dish, I guess) into the tiny cube. Then the baseband processing (blue/green/red boxes in the shed) is done at a data center.

Re:um... bad title? (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129322)

From the article. "Additionally today’s clutter of antennas serving 2G, 3G, and LTE systems are combined and shrunk into a single multifrequency, multistandard Wide-band Active Array Antenna that can be mounted on poles, sides of buildings or anywhere else there is power and a broadband connection."

Re:um... bad title? (2)

Dracolytch (714699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129342)

Well, maybe, maybe not.

One of the things the article mentions is using more/smaller cells to reduce power needs of cell phones (by having the broadcast location closer). So, if you have a multitude of smaller broadcast stations, they could be positioned closer to the people that need them... Less towers / more bulding-mounted cubes. For example: The chimney on my neighbor's house gets good LOS to my neighborhood.

Re:um... bad title? (2)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129502)

It says pretty clearly that the baseband functionality that's in the tower base today needs to go into a data center with a high speed fiber connection to the transceiver, which is what the cube is.

Re:um... bad title? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#35130016)

Also, if you read things in more detail, a single cube doesn't replace that cabinet. An array of cubes does.

One thing that is bothering me is their incredible power consumption reduction claims. The bulk of the power consumption of a cell tower is in the power amplifiers used to transmit - Due to the extreme linearity requirements and high peak-to-average ratios for CDMA and OFDM signals (Remember, UMTS uses a CDMA modulation scheme even though it isn't part of Qualcomm's CDMA2000 protocol/modulation suite), efficiencies in the high teens are considered pretty good (Although over the past five years I wouldn't be surprised if they've broken into the 20s). To reduce power consumption as much as they claim, they would have to achieve a significant advance in power amplifier efficiency.

Not counting the power consumption claims issue, the rest of it is quite interesting - someone finally deployed a fully distributed phased array antenna + software defined baseband solution outside of an academic research lab environment.

Theft protection... (1)

GodricL (1898284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35128990)

How would you secure something that small? Seems like it has the potential to be damaged/stolen.

Re:Theft protection... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129370)

How would you secure something that small? Seems like it has the potential to be damaged/stolen.

As far as damage goes, that strata of society mostly entertains itself with spraypaint from the ground, easier to run when the cops arrive. Not really seeing the point of climbing up there and swinging a hammer.

As far as theft goes, who would you sell it to, and what would they do with it?

Re:Theft protection... (1)

GodricL (1898284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129628)

Put Linux on it and make your own cell tower/server?

Got GNUs for youse. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35131440)

Put Linux on it and make your own cell tower/server?

You can already do that with a laptop, a GNU radio, and open source "soft cell tower" software.

(I haven't checked whether a Shiva Plug has enough crunch to replace the laptop. But if it doesn't the 1.2G version from the UK should.)

Now if somebody would just build a GNU radio in a USB thumb drive form factor ...

Re:Theft protection... (1)

GodricL (1898284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129738)

TFA was a bit deceptive, so my reply was a bit off. I don't think this "box" actually replaces the physical tower. I was imagining these little boxes just sprouting out of the ground. I didn't think it would be on top of a giant tower.

halving the global CO2 emissions (0)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129042)

from the mobile industry???

What do they run the towers on diesel generators? Are they coal fired?

Or are they trying to justify this by saying it will use half the electricity of previous and thus has half the CO2 emissions? Then trying to estimate the source of power and calculate actual average emissions? Pretty weak sauce.

I believe they are talking about a carbon "footprint" not "emissions". Of course I didn't RTFA, so who knows, perhaps cell towers are currently dirty technology, but that would be news to me.

Re:halving the global CO2 emissions (2)

Goaway (82658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129426)

Or are they trying to justify this by saying it will use half the electricity of previous and thus has half the CO2 emissions? Then trying to estimate the source of power and calculate actual average emissions? Pretty weak sauce.

Why would you need to "esitmate the source of power"?

Re:halving the global CO2 emissions (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129686)

Because your electricity comes through a distribution system that doesn't distinguish source. You could get 100% of your power from a wind turbine VS 100% from Coal giving you very different CO2 "emissions". You could also get every number in between, which in fact likely varies from day to day depending on load, and also from a host of sources; solar, nuclear, hydro, coal, oil, gas, wind, geothermal, tidal, etc... the percentages of type would also likely vary on time of day as load increases and more sources are brought online to handle it.

So someone coming on with a CO2 emission figure for cell towers is almost entirely BS, unless as I said they run the things locally with diesel generators, or coal, which I said it jest as that is so remote and unlikely a situation. If towers are so far off the grid, they would likely be run off solar if anything to make it manageable.

Of course unless it was just meant to be an order of magnitude VS an actual figure, say 500 tones VS 5,000,000 tones. Considering it was "measured" in cars rather than any sort of recognizable units only adds to the BS 'o' metre...

Re:halving the global CO2 emissions (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35131576)

Ok, let's try this again: Why do you think you need to have a figure in tons of CO2 to be able to say that you have halved your emissions?

Re:halving the global CO2 emissions (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129726)

Coal fired? They could quite possibly get their power from a coal power plant.

I've also seen many cell towers with diesel generators on them, but I would assume as a backup, because they're always off.

But cutting power usage is great for telcos, because it takes a chunk out of the relatively tiny amount of money they spend to keep their network running, it's a pure profit increase. This can translate directly into more high-class hookers and high-quality cocaine on the executives' megayachts.

Re:halving the global CO2 emissions (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129884)

They could also quite possibly get their power from a wind farm.

"This can translate directly into more high-class hookers and high-quality cocaine on the executives' megayachts."

You ended that perfectly. Here I thought you were going to get all telco serious preachy. Well done sir. :)

Though I also know some cell towers have battery backup in case of failure as well. However unless they retrofit the towers with smaller backup diesel generators, they would still burn the same amount of fuel to supply the same amount of current, only not all of it might be needed for the cell tower itself anymore.

Undoubtedly the excess can be used to power onsite hookerdomes, cocaine vending machines and a discotheque to keep the workers in line... "Can you hear me now?"

not a tower replacement. (1)

notgm (1069012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129072)

tfa is worded poorly, this is a smaller radio and base-station, not a smaller tower.

Shrinks antenna not tower (3, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129182)

I think the reason they have cellphone 'towers' is to get the antenna up high so it covers a wider area and is less affected by buildings and stuff blocking the signal. They are still going to need towers unless they find some way of elevating those cubes above the surroundings. Maybe tethered balloons would work in some areas which don't have wind.

Re:Shrinks antenna not tower (2)

sumday (888112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35133048)

As someone who has extensively built and repaired all manner of cellular(GSM, UMTS, PCN/DCS) base station antennas for a living, let me tell you straight off that this thing is not revolutionary. Perhaps they've figured out a way of doing what is already possible (small antennas everywhere) at a lower cost in terms of manufacturing and energy-consumption. But, if I understand it correctly, the antennas consume far more energy than the electronics used to process the signal. I was also led to believe that grouping dipoles into large, concentrated arrays is a more efficient way of getting a strong signal over a wide area. But don't listen to me; I'm not an RF engineer. I'm just a soldering genius who happened to work with RF engineers for a few years.

The French can make anything! (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129202)

Finally, a real-life Arc-Reactor! Better hope the insurgents don't get a hold of that thing...our ground-troops will be cut to shreds by Iron-Jihad-Man...

We are one step closer (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129240)

Jen: [Moss has a small plastic box with a flashing light] What is it?
Moss: This, Jen, is the Internet.
Jen: What?
Moss: That's right.
Jen: This is the Internet? The whole Internet?
Moss: Yep. I asked for a loan of it so that you could use it in your speech.
Jen: It's so small.
Moss: That's one of the surprising things about it.
Jen: Hang on, it doesn't have any wires or anything.
Moss: It's wireless.
Jen: Oh, yes, everything's wireless nowadays, isn't it... yeah. So, I can really use it in my speech? What if someone needs it?
Moss: Oh, no, no, people will still be able to go online and everything. It will still work.
Jen: Oh, good, good...
Moss: I tell you, you present this to the shareholders and you will get quite the response.
Jen: Can I touch it? It's so light!
Moss: Of course it is, Jen. The Internet doesn't weigh anything.
Jen: No, of course it doesn't.
[laughs nervously]
Roy: Hey! What is Jen doing with the Internet?
Jen: Moss said I could use it for my speech.
Roy: Are you insane? What if she drops it?
Jen: I won't drop it, I'll look after it.
Roy: No. No, no, no, no, Jen. No, this needs to go straight back to Big Ben.
Jen: Big Ben?
Moss: Yep. It goes on top of Big Ben. That's where you get the best reception.

Re:We are one step closer (2)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129458)

I once referenced this amongst a number of IT folks... and one woman actually responded: "so, the whole Internet is in one computer somewhere?" dead serious.

Re:We are one step closer (2)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129640)

You get these people. I once tried to explain to a guy that 1) yes, he could use the scanner for making copies but 2) no he still needed to buy a printer. Took me a half hour to no avail.

Re:We are one step closer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35129642)

So you mentioned it around the IT crowd?

Re:We are one step closer (1)

radicalpi (1407259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129528)

Yay! Random IT Crowd Reference. The sad thing is it probably wouldn't take much to convince most end users of this.

More like a Hellraiser Puzzlebox (3, Interesting)

Sir_Dill (218371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129256)

I don't know about anyone else, but it looked more like a hellraiser puzzle box than a rubiks cube.

Re:More like a Hellraiser Puzzlebox (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35131480)

I don't know about anyone else, but it looked more like a hellraiser puzzle box than a rubiks cube.

Looked like that to me, too.

Looking closer it seems the creepy face is an antenna built using gold-plated stripline technology, i.e. a printed circuit antenna with a bit of gold plating to protect it from the elements.

1 industry emits as much as 6% of US vehicles (1, Informative)

PhinMak (630548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129316)

Registered vehicles in the US: 250m ( Source 1 [wikipedia.org], Source 2 [google.com], Source 3 [bts.gov] ) Note that this includes all passenger vehicles such as SUVs, not just "cars".

This is an important highlight because it confirms once again that power generation is a larger portion of the CO2 emission "pie" than that emitted by vehicles. So when folks talk about our need to implement CAFE or gas taxes etc in order to reduce CO2 emissions, I will continue to call it mis-direction and/or flat-out mindless drivel. Focus on the coal plants before you come after automobiles on this issue.

I'll still listen you folks about OTHER reasons such as sending flaws inherent in sending cash to despotic regions for oil... or other pollutants... but CO2-crazies: STFU.

Re:1 industry emits as much as 6% of US vehicles (2)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129560)

once again proving that the perfect (or the better) is the enemy of the good. First, you're using the article's unsourced ~15million cars stat, but let's just assume it is accurate.

If CAFE or a gas tax resulted in an emissions reduction of just 6% from registered vehicles in just the US that would offset the CO2 created to power all the cell towers in the entire world. The entire world. That is not an insignificant change.

Obviously a 6% reduction in emissions for coal power plants would be more significant. So you are right. But I don't think people who are concerned about CO2 emissions want to just stop at a gas tax. They're usually also proponents of tighter EPA regulations, cap and trade, and similar top-down programs to reduce emissions across the board.

Re:1 industry emits as much as 6% of US vehicles (3, Insightful)

radl33t (900691) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129574)

Since when can we only work on one issue at a time? What kind of psycho would completely neglect one important "piece of pie" because another "pie slice" is 10% larger? What kind of psycho neglects thermal efficiency when comparing stationary power generation to ICE? or the ease and pace at which we replace ICE technology compared to coal plants? Why should we work on any earthly problems at all, when we all know the sun will die and matter will decay? Please go spend time ranting about things you know more about. Thanks.

Re:1 industry emits as much as 6% of US vehicles (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129872)

If given infinite resources, you could work on all slices of pie at once.

However, resources are finite, and should be put to use where their impact can be the greatest. This is simple common sense.

Re:1 industry emits as much as 6% of US vehicles (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129892)

What kind of psycho would completely neglect one important "piece of pie" because another "pie slice" is 10% larger?

The type who's 10% hungrier?

Re:1 industry emits as much as 6% of US vehicles (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35130726)

So when folks talk about our need to implement CAFE or gas taxes etc in order to reduce CO2 emissions, I will continue to call it mis-direction and/or flat-out mindless drivel.

It is neither. It is a Liberal agenda that that feels that you shouldn't be driving cars in the first place because Cars = Individuality. And Bigger Cars = Outrageous Profiteering, so they get punished the most. Just join the Collective and Get On The Bus.

Cube? (1)

briansct (1857764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129490)

Is this related to something they found on the dark side of the moon? I think I just saw my phone move. That's it I'm going to buy a yellow Chevy Camaro!

A series of cubes (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35129562)

So the Internet is now a series of cubes?

Re:A series of cubes (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35132350)

So the Internet is now a series of cubes?

Only the wireless one. Naturally they charge more if you want yours with tubes.

Decenteralised internet? (1)

miruku (642921) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129714)

Might this kinda thing be hackable? And what kind of price? What kind of protocols could this do? Are there others like it out there that do a similar or better job but almost as small? Software radio? Might this fit in some new kind of communication stack paradigm?

Re:Decenteralised internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35130028)

Software radio?

GHz ADCs, CPUs and the heat sinks necessary to cool them do not fit in hand held cubes. While flexible, SDR is an extravagantly expensive way to modulate radio signals, particularly at GSM/CDMA frequencies. Cell operators can't even consider deploying it.

Re:Decenteralised internet? (1)

willzzz (701172) | more than 3 years ago | (#35131054)

Yep basically the data-center/cloud computing model for the cell site architecture. The only thing in the public is a small antennae back-hauled to the operators CO/data-center via fiber/fibre optics (single pair at most with optical compression and algorithms) and all the signal processing is centralized at a few sites in the operators data center. This dramatically reduces costs instead of doing the cellular signal processing at the remote cell site. Advantages: Everything in the outdoor element is removed except for the small antennae and everything else of the architecture is moved to the operators data-center dramatically reducing costs. Disadvantages: We won't see this in rural areas (urban/metro first) because of fiber availability. This is applicable to rural areas but it requires high capacity microwave back-haul. TDM/T1/copper just doesn't cut it anymore. Yay cloud computing in the cellular architecture! Who'd what have thought!? Note: They are doing this for macro-cells finally, the same big-ass antennae you see outside. They are MOVING ALL THE SIGNAL PROCESSING TO THE OPERATORS DATA-CENTER! The only thing outside is a simple antennae, low power usage and back-hauled via fiber-optics (single pair at most with optimization). They are just moving the processing from the remote site to the data-center.

Useless metrics (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129736)

currently equivalent of 15 million cars a year

Goddamn metric standards. Can someone please convert this to fully laden Boeing 787s per fortnight? I know I should be able to do this in my head by now, but I can never remember whether to divide or multiply by the conversion factor when going from Nonsensius to Ridiculii.

shortly after (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129830)

lucent spokesman wim sweldens was asked what the purpose of the new cell "box" was, to which he replied "You solved the box, we came. Now you must come with us, taste our pleasures."

Orgonite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35130420)

This is going to complicate things for the orgonite "gifting" guys isn't it?

The First Thing to Come to Mind (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35130652)

The first thing this brings to mind is, how do you keep people from stealing them and holding them for ransom now that you've made them so portable?

Re:The First Thing to Come to Mind (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35132376)

The first thing this brings to mind is, how do you keep people from stealing them and holding them for ransom now that you've made them so portable?

I recommend placing them at the tops of tall towers, perhaps with barbed wire enclosing the base.

A way to lose the hut with centalized processing (2)

frank249 (100528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35131460)

Better article here [arstechnica.com]. One of the biggest advantages is that there is no signal processing on site and therefore no need for a hut at the bottom of the tower. The processing is done at data centres and signal sent to tower via fibre optics. Clustering the baseband units makes it easier for maintenance and also makes it easier to do load balancing across a region. When commuters are driving into work, for instance, the baseband cluster can turn its combined energy to handling the signal load coming from towers along the highways and train lines. During the day, processing could handle heavy downtown traffic, while it shifts focus to the suburbs in the evening. Such load-balancing doesn't produce any additional spectrum or data throughput, but it does mean that a carrier can operate fewer baseband processors, saving the carrier cash.

The connections are fast enough to support a standard called CoMP, or Co-ordinated Multipoint. CoMP, which is currently moving through standardization, relies on the fact that, in many locations, a user's wireless gadget is in range of multiple towers (the closer one comes to the edge of each cell, the more towers can typically see the device). This is usually a waste, since multiple towers spend bandwidth contacting the gadget but can't independently deliver different data. CoMP turns it into a bonus by dividing up requested download data and using all cells in the area to deliver a different slice of it at once—akin to the way BitTorrent operates. The phone then combines the data from all the towers in the proper order. This additive approach to using different towers means that a user's total throughput can go up substantially, but it requires centralized baseband to function.

Finally, the new lightRadio baseband bear can do software-defined protocols. Upgrading to LTE? Just upgrade the software on the baseband processor. (Traditional rack-mounted baseband processors required dedicated units for each protocol.) A new baseband chip from Freescale makes it possible, but it gets even cooler when used in conjunction with the new wideband antennas. LightRadio uses a new antenna that, in Alcatel-Lucent's words, collapses three radios into one. The radios are tiny cubes of 2.5 inches square, and each can operate between 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz. They use tiny amps that can be located atop the tower, built into the antenna enclosure, which keeps the amp size down and dramatically cuts down on the power loss.

These radio cubes are stacked in groups of 8 to 10 in order to make an antenna element, and when one cube in the array goes down, the others remain unaffected. (In a traditional system, the whole antenna unit would fail.) The amps cover enough different frequencies that, in many cases, simply changing the software configuration on the baseband unit can control whether each antenna offers a 2G, 3G, or 4G signal.

The antennas also do "beam forming"—fine-grained directional control over the radio signal—in both the horizontal and vertical dimension to better connect with local wireless devices. Alcatel-Lucent claims capacity improvements of 30 percent through the use of vertical beam-forming alone.

The end result of the system: lightRadio cell towers don't need huts, they don't need air conditioners and heaters, big amps, fans, or even local processing gear. Baseband processing moves closer to the data center model and gets cool new capabilities like CoMP and load-balancing. The system's cost savings come from power (Alcatel-Lucent claims a 50 percent reduction), along with lower construction and site rental fees. The total macro capacity of the system should double while cutting operator costs dramatically.

Re:A way to lose the hut with centalized processin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35132980)

The unmentioned advantage. Lower number of signals running across any one RF front end/antenna combo. In a large cell tower, the objective is to carry as many calls as possible from one site, this creates quite a few problems. High transmit powers combined with multiple signals generates intermodulation products that interfere with the performance of the RF front end. Designing to minimize the intermods is costly and difficult to test in production.

Switching to a smaller package that carries fewer calls per antenna at lower transmit powers, exponentially reduces the cost of the equipment.

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