Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) today announced a breakthrough from Bell Labs, its research and development arm, that dramatically increases the efficiency of a critical chip used in the company's third-generation (3G) Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network equipment. This new chip design will substantially increase wireless network capacity, consequently reducing costs for mobile operators.
The innovative new baseband processor offers substantial performance improvements for Lucent's base station equipment, allowing these systems to serve up to 10 percent more customers -- with the highest data transmission speeds -- than base stations incorporating other available baseband processors. It also makes possible less power-hungry mobile devices able to accommodate multimedia communications at data speeds comparable to cable modem or digital subscriber line (DSL) broadband Internet access technologies.
Lucent is the first in the industry to combine the digital encoding of voice and data signals in a single channel while complying with the latest UMTS specification established by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a global consortium of standards-setting organizations. A combined team of researchers from Bell Labs Australia and Lucent's Mobility Solutions Group developed the codec (a processor that protects wireless transmissions by coding and decoding voice and data streams) at the company's North Ryde facility. They worked with development teams in France, the U.K. and the U.S. to incorporate the technology into silicon chips that are being included in Lucent's Flexent(r) OneBTS(r) base station for UMTS operators.
"This milestone provides a bottom-line benefit to service providers in terms of improved performance, and return on investment," said Paul Mankiewich, chief technical officer of Lucent's Mobility Solutions Group. "It highlights how Bell Labs innovations around the world are being harnessed to deliver the industry's strongest end-to-end UMTS solutions, and promote practical handsets with lower power consumption."
Lucent has licensed the technology for incorporation into chipsets for UMTS handsets, wireless PC modem cards and other devices.
Minimizes Need for Host Processor Support
Channel decoding is the function in wireless base stations and handsets that typically requires the most computing resources. "We have raised the bar in base station efficiency drawn from our long experience with the coding schemes underlying 3G spread-spectrum wireless standards," said Dr. Chris Nicol, head of Bell Labs Australia.
The Bell Labs innovation, technically described as a "Unified Turbo/Viterbi Channel Decoder," is the only available silicon codec implementation with built-in support for the 3GPP turbo interleaving algorithms, bit-error-estimation for accurate power control and first level 3GPP channel de-interleaving. This reduces the need for host processor support, providing a faster and more cost-effective solution for equipment designers than any processor-dependent codec.
Moreover, these features enable the decoder to support many more voice and data calls than competitors' solutions, which typically require software intervention to change service combinations. The decoder supports any mix of voice and data services needed for UMTS networks and is currently the only channel decoder that supports both voice and data services for any 3G digital wireless standard. The Lucent UMTS base stations incorporating this technology will provide best-in-class capabilities in areas such as capacity, throughput and system performance.
A key benefit of the Bell Labs core design is the use of the most efficient patented turbo decoding termination algorithm, which yields very low power consumption for channel decoding, a key consideration for handset manufacturers. Bell Labs also secured additional power consumption reductions by combining voice and data channel decoding functions, thereby yielding much smaller chips.
In fact, tests have demonstrated that the Unified Turbo/Viterbi Channel Decoder provides the best performance in the industry, decoding UMTS 2 Megabits per second data streams with 10 turbo iterations using the industry's most-accurate log-MAP algorithm with variable width log-correction tables. The decoder innovation provides up to a 12 percent increase in link sensitivity over other available max-log-MAP solutions. This performance improvement can extend the coverage area of Lucent's new OneBTS base station, allowing it to deliver the highest data speeds to up to 10 percent more users than base stations incorporating other available algorithms.