Alcatel-Lucent boosts small cell pitch with $4M EBlink investment and tie-in

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The French-American networking company Alcatel-Lucent(s alu) has invested €3 million ($4.1 million) in EBlink, a French wireless fronthaul specialist.

Alcatel-Lucent is one of several telecommunications equipment players that’s very keen on putting as much as possible of the network into the cloud. Increasing numbers of mobile devices need denser networks made up of smaller cells, so it makes sense to virtualize the heavy-processing part of the base station and centralize it, so you can dynamically shift capacity around the network as you need it.

Alcatel-Lucent's Cube, the radio end of its cloud network architecture

Alcatel-Lucent’s Cube, the radio end of its cloud network architecture

shift the raw radio signals

Which is where EBlink comes in. The company specializes in wireless “fronthaul” – the connection between the small cell and a nearby fiber-connected macro site – for which it uses the unlicensed 5.8GHz band. EBlink claims to have the “highest spectral efficiency in the industry,” allowing it to provide an alternative to fiber “without sacrificing network performance.” Orange is already a customer.

Alcatel-Lucent is clearly impressed. Investment aside, the deal announced on Thursday will see EBlink’s technology offered to Alcatel-Lucent’s carrier customers around the world, perhaps encouraging them to buy into the “Cloud-RAN” dream as they revamp their networks for LTE and beyond.

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