Femtocell is rapidly emerging as a fundamental technology enabler in the deployment of next-generation (3G/4G) wireless network infrastructure. A femtocell is a small cellular base station, typically designed for use in a residential or small business environment. This access point communicates to the wireless service providers’ network through a broadband connection.
Using femtocell, a wireless operator can improve both coverage and capacity especially in an indoor area, where access would otherwise be limited or unavailable, in a highly cost effective way. This will reduce the carriers operating costs as well as capital expenditures.
The U.S. is likely to undergo a massive wave of 3G femtocell in 2011. AT&T (T) was the first U.S. wireless service provider to deploy 3G femtocell base station. Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and Verizon Wireless (VZ) have also started selling 3G femtocells. Recently, T-Mobile announced that the company has decided to offer 3G femtocells in 2011.
AT& T has developed its 3G femtocell using Cisco System Inc’s (CSCO) technical expertise. Sprint has collaborated with Airvana Inc. to develop chipset for 3G femtocell. Airvana is a partner of Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) for developing 3G CDMA femtocell. T-Mobile has already started trial run of its 3G femtocells in the European regions using the chipsets of Ubiquisys Ltd. and Broadcom Corp. (BRCM).
Meanwhile, Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) already declared the technical details of its 3G femtocell. The major innovation of Qualcomm’s 3G femtocell is that it will support both CDMA and GSM standards and the chipset will integrate femtocell base station with the baseband architecture. The product will be smaller and cheaper than the existing 3G femtocells.
Qualcomm chipset will have a combined radio chip and 3G baseband controllers, which supports all latest high-speed technologies like HSPA+, and contain a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor and a GPS receiver. Management stated that this chipset may be used as a platform for multimedia gateway. The company has also started the shipment of this product.