Cable guys give thumbs up to BelAir's strand-mounted wireless picocell

When it comes to mobile wireless, cable guys have apparently torn a page from the Sally Fields' playbook. They like it! They really like it!

That's the impression that was presented when industry members at the CableLabs' summer conference voted BelAir Networks' strand-mounted picocell product "best new idea likely to succeed." The product was selected from among 12 companies vying with live demonstrations and an eight-minute "lightning round" demonstration during the Labs' Innovation Showcase.

The overall goal of the product is to be mounted on cable strand and improve wireless reception for non-cable mobile providers who also use the devices to backhaul their voice and data traffic. Cable operators could, in the long run, use the devices for their own mobile services--like Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR).

WiMAX, for instance, could be modularly inserted into the device) or for WiFi. Primarily, though, the device improves service for mobile carriers via the cable plant.

"The MSO industry is doing a fantastic job of delivering broadband in the home. The end user wants to see that in the network," said Dave Park, BelAir's vice president of producdt marketing, responding to questions at a post-presentation press briefing. "Thousands of small cells really change the operational game for mobile network operators and dramatically change their deployment processes."

If they're willing to work with cable operators.

"We all feel the pain that BelAir is looking to solve. We, as MSOs, hope we can participate in ... being able to get both coverage and capacity at specific locations," said Mark Coblitz, Comcast's (Nasdaq: CMCSA) senior vice president of strategic planning, also speaking at the press briefing. "We certainly are deploying this kind of equipment for Wi-Fi right now. To be able to add the licensed spectrum to it is a real business opportunity."

Demonstrating how much the industry seems to like wireless-even as it hedges its own mobile bets-a demonstration by Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) of a "4G car" also drew a few votes.

For more:
- see this news release

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