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Qualcomm Chips in on Cisco Small Cells

Sarah Thomas

Qualcomm took a small stake in Alcatel-Lucent for small cells, but it's not placing all its bets on the telecom equipment giant. The chipmaker is also collaborating with Cisco and ip.access to power their small cells.

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) announced Monday it will provide Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) with its chipsets for multimode enterprise small cells. This builds on the pair's partnership announcement from 2012's Mobile World Congress.

Last week, ip.access Ltd. also revealed that Qualcomm is powering what it's calling a new category of indoor "presence" small cells based on Qualcomm's FSM small cell platform. The company says that presence small cells are designed to capture location data and provide supporting services such as analytics and promotions. (Ed. Note: This would simply fall under enterprise small cell on our handy list.) (See Know Your Small Cell: Home, Enterprise, or Public Access?)

Qualcomm's first large-scale small cell deal was actually announced last July with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). The pair now plan to launch their first devices mid year. Qualcomm also took a small stake in Alcatel-Lucent at the time, because of the strength of its small cell offering, Qualcomm SVP of Product Management Dan Rabinovitsj tells Light Reading. (See Joint Qualcomm & AlcaLu Small Cells Due Mid-Year, AlcaLu's Small Cell Menu: Stake and Chips, and What's Next for AlcaLu-Qualcomm?)

"The solution is complicated; not everyone can get it together," he says. "We have two strong technology companies working together to bring that to market. The next steps will be how fast can we fan out that original technology base to expand to meet requirements for operators around the world?"

Qualcomm got off to a slow start in the small cell space, so its goal now is to make up for lost time in the enterprise and accelerate product development with all its partners. Rabinovitsj says it's actively designing products with both Cisco and ip.access, but he didn't offer up a timeline on when to expect small cells to spring from either.

Partho Mishra, VP and GM of Cisco's small cell technology group, told Light Reading last year to expect multimode small cells in early 2014. Cisco is focused first on the indoor markets, but says its devices are suitable for outdoor deployment as well. (See Cisco: Multimode Small Cells Coming Early 2014.)

"As the small cell market starts to become real and RFPs are issued by carriers all over the world, the first wave of products people care about the most seems to be in the enterprise and metro space," Rabinovitsj adds. "Residential stuff is coming in the next wave."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
2/25/2014 | 3:15:10 AM
Re: Qualcomm partners
Actually in 2008 Qualcomm have made a stratigic invested in ip.access - see announcement - http://www.ipaccess.com/content2012/news/press-release.php?id=63 
User Rank: Light Beer
2/24/2014 | 8:09:29 PM
Re: Qualcomm partners
Bigger upside with AL maybe? Cisco is losing market share to smaller compaines.
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/24/2014 | 5:48:26 PM
Presence Small cells
These presence small cells remind me of a product I looked at a few years back from Israel's AcCells and unsuccessfully reincarnated through Raging Mobile. These are essentially attempting to create a carrier version of BLE beacons and NFC depending on their range.

These are exciting, but only if the carriers make them super-easy to deploy and use, which is unfortunately not a given.
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
2/24/2014 | 6:42:55 AM
Qualcomm partners
It makes total sense that Qualcomm's relationship with Alcatel-Lucent wasn't exclusive. Qualcomm wants to get its chips in as many devices as possible. But, I wonder why Qualcomm decided to take a stake (albiet tiny) in AlcaLu and not Cisco or others. Are they betting a bit more on them?
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