Qualcomm’s chief technology officer, Mat Grob, pitched the idea of small, private cellular base stations this week, showing a base station small enough to be integrated into a set top box or home router.
“There really is no alternative,”said Matt Grob, Qualcomm’s CTO, during a presentation at the Qualcomm On conference in Santa Clara, California.
At the heart of its vision is UltraSON, an implementation of SON (self-optimizing network) technology that Qualcomm would use to turn many cells spread across a neighborhood into a unified network.
“We are working extensively with operators on this particular project,” Grob told MIT Technology Review after his presentation.
Qualcomm has installed 20 of the small prototypes in office buildings around its San Diego campus. A person driving or walking through the area receives a stronger signal on his phone, and faster downloads, as his device hops between the many small base stations, each with a range of tens of meters. “Our next step is to do a larger test, with a network operator and an infrastructure vendor,” says Grob.
Mobile carriers already sell small cellular base stations for personal use, but they can only be used by the subscribers that own them, not anyone.
Ericsson is also a HetNet proponent and has just launched a commercial trial of what it calls the City Site “integrated solution” in Nanning, the capital of China’s Guangxi region, with China Mobile. Like Clearwire, China Mobile is using TD-LTE in the 2.6 GHz band.
The four-meter-high (13-foot) unit includes a standard Ericsson base station with an integrated multidirectional antenna. The City Site has fewer limitations for site selection compared with standard radio base station, as it can be deployed in crowded areas, and is suitable for a variety of places, such as railway stations, business districts, schools, parks, squares, and main avenues.
Dish Networks has hinted about a “hetnet” approach in their proposal to buy Sprint for $25 billion. Dish already has 14 million roof-mounted antennas, so the costs and coverage of 4G infrastructure might be lowered significantly if Dish’s satellite antennas could be used to supplement cellular coverage.
Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen blasted comments by SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son as a “personal attack,” and he reasserted that Dish’s $25.5 billion bid to take control of Sprint would be better for the United States, reports Fierce Wireless.
“We’re offering a higher price. That’s just math,” Ergen said in an interview with USA Today. “We are an American company, and the modernization of Sprint’s network will have to be done from the U.S. You have to climb the towers here, and you’ll have to have U.S. employees who speak English. Operations command control will be in America. That’s good for jobs. It doesn’t mean that the other guys are bad. It’s just that we have an advantage.”
Ergen plans to offer bundled services — similar to AT&T and Verizon’s packages of data, voice and TV — and bet the future on the “TV-anywhere” trend.
Consumers will be able to watch regular TV programming on their laptops and tablets outside the home as video is streamed through its wireless networks, Ergen says.
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