RIO DE JANEIRO — Alcatel-Lucent is betting on the growth of small cells across the Caribbean and Latin American region. In a meeting with members of the press at the Futurecom event, Osvaldo Di Campli, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s CALA unit, announced that the vendor has secured five contracts with Latin American carriers to deploy femtocells.
Although he did not reveal the names of the telecom operators, Di Campli did say that the carriers are from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Guatemala. Last year, the French company announced that it had closed a deal with the Spanish group Telefónica to provide femtocells throughout Europe and South America. And before that Alcatel-Lucent said it had three femtocell pilot projects underway in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela.
According to Alcatel-Lucent, it is still conducting trials in Venezuela, but no contract has been signed.
“Small cells solve carriers’ issues with indoor coverage because it helps improve the quality of voice and data transfers, and offloads 3G traffic,” Di Campli said. Small cells have been part of Alcatel-Lucent’s strategy to grow in the Latin American region. “Our competitors are conducting field tests that confirm our bet on small cells,” he said.
In Brazil, the project lacks regulatory approval from telecom regulator Anatel, but this is expected to be resolved on Thursday. Anatel is evaluating femtocell rules, specifically related to frequencies that would be used to avoid interference with other electrical equipment.
Di Campli explained that the small cell strategy in Latin America follows a global trend of using these kind of antennas to improve customer experience. “In countries with a more mature 3G ecosystem, carriers use smalls cells indoors because macro cells aren’t enough to cover all the data traffic,” he said.
When asked about Alcatel-Lucent’s involvement in connecting the stadiums that will host FIFA World Cup games, Di Campli said the company has provided distributed antenna system infrastructure in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. “And the bidding process is underway to provide indoor coverage for the other six stadiums,” Di Campli said.