Sprint to use Alcatel Lucent small cells in 4G rollout

US operator Sprint has signed an agreement with Alcatel Lucent to use the vendor’s lightRadio Metro Cells in its rollout of 4G services across the country.

The technology should allow Sprint to improve the coverage and capacity of its 4G network in busy areas like shopping malls and sports stadiums.

Metro cells are mini base stations that can easily be deployed outdoors on lamp posts or street signs. Sprint, however, plans to use them initially to improve the quality of service it can provide at indoor locations such as entertainment venues, transportation hubs and business campuses.

The operator also hopes to reduce the cost of its 4G deployment by introducing the small cell technology. Metro cells can be used to fill coverage gaps more cost-effectively than is possible using other solutions. They will also allow Sprint to focus on catering to high-demand areas while ignoring less densely populated communities.

“Sprint is a leader in innovation, and as such, we want our customers to enjoy the latest high-bandwidth services and applications,” said Bob Azzi, a senior vice president with the company. “With Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio Metro Cells we will be able to increase our coverage and capacity where it’s needed.”

Sprint is currently rolling out an improved 3G and 4G network as part of its Network Vision initiative.

Alcatel Lucent says a number of operators are now looking at cost-effective means of boosting mobile broadband performance in busy public areas.

“As a leader in small cell technology, Alcatel-Lucent is in an ideal position to address this challenge,” said Robert Vrij, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Americas region. “By selecting our lightRadio Metro Cells, Sprint can offer its customers the quality of mobile broadband experience they expect, keeping them connected wherever they are.”

Alcatel Lucent claims that its lightRadio technology also provides operators with a greener footprint by helping them to reduce power consumption.