Etisalat: The Road to 4G LTE with lightRadio

Rising demand

Etisalat, headquartered in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the Middle East. We operate in 17 countries and serve over 167 million subscribers through mobile and fixed line voice and data services.

Today, in the UAE, we are seeing a growing demand for high-speed connections to mobile broadband services such as videoconferencing and on-demand TV. This demand is driven by the mass take-up of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. In addition we are seeing a rapid growth in the demand for Internet on-the-move services. To cope with these growing demands we need to extend our wireless network coverage and increase our capacity.

1st Steps

In October 2011, Alcatel-Lucent and Etisalat signed an innovation and collaboration agreement to jointly develop a sustainable and efficient solution to meet these demands. This collaboration would be based on the groundbreaking lightRadio portfolio.

Under the agreement, we would work together with Alcatel-Lucent to help influence the lightRadio development. This would be accomplished through joint participation in working groups, trials and validation of the technology.

Also as part of the agreement, the Bell Labs Business Modeling team conducted a study of Etisalat’s network evolution path. The goal was to determine the best fit for lightRadio products to help reduce costs and meet customers’ needs.

The road to reality

Through the collaboration process, Etisalat helped to define the commercial introduction of this new product family in the Middle East and in other markets. We believe that the introduction of lightRadio allows us to address our subscribers’ demands for innovative mobile services while providing a flexible path for business growth well into the next decade.

Early tests conducted prior to the trial showed tremendous promise that service providers deploying the lightRadio Metro Radio Outdoor (MRO) product in their LTE network could see improvements in capacity and performance. These improvements could allow operators to realize cost savings of up to 40% while delivering high-quality, 4G LTE data services to subscribers.

The trial

The trial represented the first mobile broadband connection made in the UAE and the META region using Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio solution. The lightRadio MRO product capabilities were showcased at our headquarters in Abu Dhabi, establishing a lightning-fast data connection over our commercial 4G LTE network, which is also powered by Alcatel-Lucent.

The tests performed during the trial included:

  • High-throughput, simultaneous, uplink and downlink data transfer (exceeding 103 Mbit/s in downlink and 40 Mbit/s in uplink)
  • High-definition video streaming
  • A live video call between one user terminal connected to the MRO, and another to the Alcatel-Lucent LTE network.

Figure 1: The live demo configuration

The successful demonstration provided valuable information about how easy it is to deploy the Alcatel-Lucent metrocells and how we can transform the mobile broadband experience for our customers. It also showed how the lightRadio solution can reduce power consumption, costs and equipment footprint.

This lightRadio MRO is part of the Alcatel-Lucent lightRadio small cells product family, and is based on the lightRadio cube. The cube is a Bell Labs innovation that combines and shrinks cell tower antennas into a multi-frequency, multi-standard, small form factor device that can be mounted on poles, buildings or anywhere else with a power supply and broadband connection. It extends the LTE network to provide hotspot coverage in densely populated areas such as shopping malls, airports, and sports stadiums.

lightRadio delivers

The successful lightRadio trial was recently announced at Mobile World Congress 2012. This marks a major milestone that turns the promise of lightRadio into a reality. The commercialization of the lightRadio mobile broadband technology demonstrates how mobile operators around the world can deal cost-effectively with the exploding demand for high-speed mobile data services.

The lightRadio product family addresses the need for superfast speeds and high-quality delivery of applications to a wide variety of mobile devices. It also addresses the need to reduce the size, complexity, cost and power consumption of mobile networks and deliver a greener, more cost-effective solution for operators.

Shaping the future

At Etisalat, we are pioneers in delivering innovative services and applications for our customers to meet their needs in both their social and work lives. The innovation and collaboration agreement with Alcatel-Lucent allows us help define how lightRadio can be best implemented to satisfy our customers growing demands.

Etisalat is proud to be part of this program, helping to shape the future of mobile broadband networks. With lightRadio we will be able to address rapidly growing traffic demands. And we will be able to offer our customers innovative solutions so they can easily access the latest and greatest mobile data applications on their mobile device of choice.

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