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Ericsson: Next-gen base station ready for deployments

Verizon Wireless will be one of the first to receive Ericsson’s new multi-standard 'cell-site in a box'

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BOSTON—Ericsson's (NasdaqGS: ERIC) long-awaited universal base station is out of the lab and in the field. Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) will be among the first to receive the new multi-standard platform, deploying it in its forthcoming long-term evolution (LTE) network, but Ericsson executives revealed that the kit is already deployed in an existing operator's high-speed packet access (HSPA) deployment, though they did not reveal whose.

Unveiled at Mobile World Congress in 2008, the RBS 6000 is Ericsson's first software-upgradable base station, supporting GSM, GPRS/EDGE, Wideband CDMA and eventually LTE. The platform consists of a single cabinet, sporting common components to all of the radio standards. The selected radio baseband technology is loaded into the box as a software module, either running on its own as a dedicated GSM or UMTS base station or concurrently with other radio standards.

Ericsson is by no means the first vendor to offer a multi-standard base station. Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei Technologies all have software platforms in the market. Alcatel-Lucent adopted a software-defined radio development approach years ago, giving it massive install base of CDMA and UMTS base stations it claims can support an LTE upgrade.

Though Ericsson's universal base station may be later to market, it is claiming a greater level of maturity in its solution. Rather than release several platforms, each supporting different capabilities, the RBS 6000 will consolidate all of Ericsson's radio infrastructure lines into a single product, head of networks Johan Wibergh said at Ericsson's Capital Markets Day event. The only difference between one RBS 6000 and another is whether it is a macro- or micro-sized version. As for its abilities to support increasingly more complicated radio technologies, Wibergh said, the base station has the processing power of 150 PCs combined. Ericsson was even able to engineer the platform to be greener and more compact than those of Ericsson's competitors, Wibergh said.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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