Athena Wireless showcases tiny LTE small-cell solution with backhaul
April 22, 2014 - Athena Wireless exhibits its Pixie LTE small cell that includes millimeter-wave backhaul in a package the size of a smoke detector during the IWCE 2014 show in Las Vegas. Pixie now supports operation on the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed to FirstNet.
Athena Wireless recently exhibited its new Pixie LTE small cell—an LTE cell that includes millimeter-wavebackhaul in a package the size of a smoke detector—that now supports operation on the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed to FirstNet during the IWCE 2014 show in Las Vegas.
Although the Pixie is only about seven inches square and two inches deep, the $12,000 package provides LTE coverage about 850 meters from an omnidirectional antenna, as well as millimeter-wave backhaul that provides a 1-kilometer link at 60 GHz or a 3.5-kilometer link at 80 GHz, according to Eduardo Tinoco, president and CEO of Athena Wireless. The Pixie provides 68 MB/s data throughput and supports up to 64 simultaneous users, all while using just 25 watts of power, he said.
“We’re revolutionizing the way things work,” Tinoco said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Today, a base station costs about $100,000. We’re actually taking a zero out of that cost.”
And the savings from the Athena Wireless LTE solution is not limited to capital expenditures associated with deploying a base station, Tinoco said. Because the Pixie includes millimeter-wave backhaul—available for little or no money on an ongoing basis—operators deploying the technology also can realize significant operational savings, he said.
“In some cases, the backhaul [via wired technology] could be $1,000 per month,” Tinoco said. “If you’re a municipality and you have to have 300 of these points come back to your main core, 300 times $1,000 per month is a lot of money for a municipality.”
Athena Wireless recently completed beta testing for the Pixie, and the product is being deployed by customers, Tinoco said. Two sectors exhibiting early interest in the solution are wireless Internet service providers (ISPs) that are attracted to the Pixie’s economics and military customers, which like the Pixie’s IP67 rating for outdoor use and the fact that the millimeter-wave backhaul link can be established in 10-30 minutes to support tactical communications, he said.
Tinoco said he believes the Pixie would be helpful in other key scenarios.
“The real question is: How do you cover a rural area profitably?” he said. “Operators know how to do it, but sometimes the number of subscribers is too small, so the return on investment is not there; the equation is not good. With our technology, the equation is quite simple, because—for $10,000 or so—you get coverage for LTE.”