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Cisco: LTE Small Cell Is a 'Priority'

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan

For Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), developing an Long Term Evolution (LTE) small cell is a top priority, according to the company's small cell business development manager, John Murray.

Exactly what that product is, though, Murray isn't saying, but it's apparent that the project is important to the vendor.

"It's a priority," says Murray.

And depending on the availability of silicon, the company could have a proof-of-concept device out within the next six months. "It all starts and stops with the silicon," says Murray.

Cisco first raised the prospect of developing an LTE small cell at the Mobile World Congress in February this year and said that such a product was "on the horizon." (See Cisco’s Big Small-Cell Ambitions and Cisco: We're Doing Small Cells Too.)

Now, while the company hasn't revealed detailed specifics about future products, it did say it's talking to operators about their requirements for tiny base stations in their 4G networks. (See AT&T Launches RFI for Small Cells .)

It's clear, though, that Cisco isn't developing a product that will support LTE alone. Murray says the company is more focused on a converged, modular product that could support unlicensed Wi-Fi as well as licensed 3G and LTE services in the same unit.

"We think you're going to need all three of those technologies in the same box," he says. "The key is modular," he adds, so that the service provider could mix and match the supported technologies within each small cell.

Cisco also says that operators were eyeing up small cells for enterprises, as well.

"Of most interest to operators globally is the enterprise space, particularly for LTE," says Murray.

Another part of the company's small-cell picture is the on-going work it is doing with its partner ip.access Ltd. , which supplies the femtocell technology in AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Microcell-branded residential femto that's supplied by Cisco. (See Cisco Claims AT&T Femto as Its Own and Cisco, ip.access Prep Femto Combo.)

"There's a strong relationship between Cisco and ip.access," says Murray. "We continue to work with them … sharing roadmaps, doing joint development, evolving our residential solution and bringing the latest silicon… We're talking to ip.access on their LTE strategy."

Once it gets its multimode public access small cell products to market, Cisco will face tough competition from rivals such as Airspan Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: AIRN), Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701), Nokia Networks and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), which also have similar products in the pipeline. (See Who's Big in Small Cells?)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:28:33 PM
re: Cisco: LTE Small Cell Is a 'Priority'

Cisco's 3G microcell is already supposed to be the most widely deployed 3G basestation -- micro or macro -- in the US. Why wouldn't Cisco want some of that action for 4G?

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