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Verizon Eyes Femtos for 2009

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
10/27/2008
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Verizon Wireless says that it could introduce its first femtocell product early next year, following CDMA rival Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s move into the nascent home base station market late last year.

The No. 2 U.S. cellular operator wants to get feedback on femtos before a potential introduction in 2009. "We are looking at femtocell technology and will soon be performing user tests," says a company spokesman in an email reply to Unstrung. "We could well have a product on the market early next year, but we have made no public announcements about that yet."

A Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) "UbiCell" femtocell bearing the Verizon marquee is now reportedly with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) .

Barclays Capital analyst Amir Rozwadowski suggests that the voice and data CDMA femtocells that Airvana Inc. (Nasdaq: AIRV) is working on could also be taken up by Verizon, although the carrier's spokesman didn't offer any color on the eventual products that Verizon might offer. "Though Airvana has not yet announced a carrier partner, we believe that it is unlikely that the U.S. carriers (and international service providers as well) are likely to embrace a voice only femtocell strategy, and therefore consider Airvana well positioned when carriers look to migrate their femtocell solutions to support both voice and data services," writes Rozwadowski in a research note.

The choice of femtocells that support CDMA is, in any case, pretty much limited to these few firms at the present time. Samsung has been working with Sprint since 2007 on the Airave, while Airvana is expected to intro products in the first half of next year. (See Sprint Expands Femto Service.)

Unstrung first reported back in April that Verizon was considering using femtocell technology. CTO Tony Melone said that the carrier could use them to bolster CDMA coverage as it moves to long-term evolution (LTE) technology in the next decade. (See Verizon Eyes Femtos.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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