Alcatel-Lucent showed off technology on Monday that shrinks mobile phone base stations to barely bigger than a golf ball.

The lightRadio technology could help Alcatel-Lucent boost its ailing position in the wireless kit market.

Wim Sweldens, chief of Alcatel-Lucent's wireless business, said the technology enables companies to more than halve their network operating costs and roughly halve their power usage.

Alcatel-Lucent said five operators -- including France Telecom's Orange, Verizon Wireless and China Mobile -- would trial the technology this year.

The base stations can be installed wherever there is electricity and an Internet connection, for instance at home or on lamp-posts.

While the lightRadio covers a smaller area than large base stations, combining them gives similar reach. The need for a (large) base station pretty much goes away, Sweldens said.

The new technology could help operators adjust to surging growth in data traffic, which Cisco forecasts will rise almost 30-fold in the next five years.

Operators will have to look at dramatic ways to cut costs, you cannot increase investment 30-fold, Sweldens said.

Alcatel-Lucent said it has partnered with chipmaker Freescale while Hewlett-Packard will provide computing services to help produce the smaller base stations.

Sweldens said the market for products such as lightRadio, which combine different network technologies, will grow to some 12 billion euros ($16.26 billion) in 2014 from 7 billion now.

($1=.7380 Euro)

(Editing by David Hulmes)