Sprint will use small cell technology from Alcatel-Lucent to support its LTE mobile broadband networks in areas of high mobile usage. The US number-three operator will deploy Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio Metro Cells – or mini base stations – to provide better service in public areas such as shopping centres, stadiums and campuses.

The announcement that Sprint will use the vendor's lightRadio Metro Cells comes shortly after Sprint launched its LTE network as part of its Network Vision project, for which Alcatel-Lucent is a vendor.

The Metro Cells can be located on street signs and lamp posts to strengthen LTE signal where needed – for example, where there are gaps in coverage created by the presence of buildings in urban locations.

The initial deployment of the technology will focus on indoor applications such as entertainment venues, transport hubs and business campuses.

The technology will help Sprint’s networks meet increasing demand for internet access, and social networking services in particular, at big events and busy locations.

Sprint is deploying an upgraded 3G network and LTE technology as part of its Network Vision initiative. The small cell technology provides a low-cost way to complement these networks in areas of high usage.

In a statement, Alcatel-Lucent said it currently has 39 commercial small cell deployment wins and more than 20 ongoing trials.