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Alcatel-Lucent's lightRadio now comes with added WiFi

15 февраля 2012

Alcatel-Lucent on Tuesday unveiled a new addition to its small-cell base station portfolio that incorporates carrier-grade WiFi access.

Called lightRadio WiFi, it is essentially an upgraded version of the small, cube-shaped lightRadio antenna launched by Alcatel-Lucent in February 2011; the difference being that as well as offering 2G, 3G and LTE access it now comes with WiFi too.

The new product enables mobile operators to ease the demand on heavily-contended cells by seamlessly switching data traffic onto WiFi but without offloading customers from their backhaul or core networks.

"One of our taglines for this product is 'offload data, not customers'," commented Gary Leonard, director of solutions marketing at Alcatel-Lucent. "It offloads the traffic from the cellular RAN (radio access network) onto carrier-grade, trusted WiFi, but it doesn't go to another ISP.

"Keep the customer on your network.... [and] have them pay you instead of the hotel, airport, or coffee shop."

Leonard explained to Total Telecom ahead of Tuesday's announcement that to achieve this aim, Alcatel-Lucent has added a WiFi gateway to its service edge router, and augmented its policy manager with the 3GPP's Automatic Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDSF), which will enable a client installed on a device to automatically connect to either a cellular or WiFi access network based on criteria including network congestion levels and subscription type.

"As you hand over [from cellular to WiFi] it just keeps going seamlessly," he said, unless the user is in the middle of a circuit-switched voice call in which case the cellular connection is maintained.

WiFi has proved popular with users, Leonard said, but it comes with limitations that affect both customers and operators.

"There's the complicated authentication process, the security aspects are limited, and it comes as a hotspot service not a fully-fledged operator service – you're only just starting to see unified billing and service bundling," he said.

lightRadio WiFi is available now for trials and demonstrations, but the solution will roll out commercially in stages throughout the year, starting with the WiFi gateway and upgraded policy manager, followed by metro and enterprise cells in late 2012 to early 2013.

Источник: Total Telecom

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