Samsung to provide small cells in Sprint's 4G LTE rollout

Alcatel-Lucent announced similar capability earlier

Samsung announced it will help develop Sprint's small-cell infrastructure for use in Sprint's 4G LTE network and its 3G network improvements.

Samsung, also the top mobile phone provider in the U.S., said in a statement Thursday that the small cells will be used in high traffic areas indoors as well as in stadiums, airports and office complexes.

Samsung's statement came several days after Sprint said Alcatel-Lucent would also be providing Sprint with small cell gear for similar purposes.

Small cell technology is an emerging field of products, including mini-base stations, that are generally about the size of a shoebox. They can be attached to light poles and buildings, are much smaller and lighter -- and have a shorter cellular range -- than typical base stations attached to cellular towers, according to analysts.

Sprint has a massive multiyear Network Vision network-building intiative under way that will include the Samsung and Alcatel-Lucent products. Network Vision is designed to improve Sprint's existing 3G network and its LTE network, which launched in 15 cities on July 16. Network Vision is expected to cost Sprint up to $5 billion.

Sprint has 56 million mobile customers and is the nation's third-largest cellular provider, behind Verizon Wireless and AT&T. In the second quarter of 2012, Sprint had already spent $700 million on Network Vision.

The value of the Samsung deal was not revealed. Other small cell hardware makers include Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens, as well as Alcatel-Lucent.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

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