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Huawei Lands More Femtocell Action

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. further cemented its reputation as a contender in the increasingly hot femtocell market on Friday when Mobilkom Austria AG & Co. KG announced details of an ongoing trial of 3G home base station technology. (See 2010: Year of the Femto and Operators Eye WiMax Femtos.)

Telekom Austria AG (NYSE: TKA; Vienna: TKA)'s mobile business has installed femtocell routers -- tiny cellular radios that plug into a user's existing wired network and improve wireless coverage in the home or office -- supplied by Huawei with 35 customers (a mix of residential and business users).

The femtocells installed with the business users can each manage up to 16 connections, while the residential home 3G gateways provide coverage for up to four end users' devices (phones or data cards).

Huawei's femtocells have already been put through their paces by Spanish operators Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) and Vodafone España S.A. , JSC Ukrtelecom in Ukraine, and StarHub in Singapore. (See StarHub Starts Customer Femto Trial, V'fone Trials Femtocells, and Ukrainians Fancy Femtocells.)

Mobilkom, which believes it's the first operator in Central Europe to start a femtocell pilot project, says Huawei's femtocells are being hooked up to fixed broadband (DSL) connections on the customers' premises, and are centrally managed with no requirements for end users to reconfigure their devices.

The carrier says the pilot project is designed to provide "quick and secure network indoor coverage to Austrian buildings that mobile technology can’t effectively reach due to their particular architecture,” such as computing centers with thick concrete walls, seminar rooms in hotels, and so on.

Two of the businesses trialing the indoor 3G services are hotel chain Austria Trend Hotels & Resorts der Verkehrsbüro Group, and the Vienna ARZ computing center.

Mobilkom says the trial will run until the second quarter of 2009, adding that it plans to launch a commercial service at some point during the first half of next year.

The Austrian operator joins a growing list of carriers that are checking out the deployment potential of small, in-building base stations. (See T-Mobile Trials Femtos, AT&T the Latest to Jump on the Femto Wagon, Etisalat Demos Ubiquisys Femto, Vodafone, O2 Test Femtocells, Telefónica O2 Preps New Femto Trial, SFR’s Femto Riposte, France Is Favorite for Femto First , Telecom Italia Eyes Femtos, TeliaSonera Trials AlcaLu, O2 Trials Femtocells, Verizon Goes Femto?, and more.)

Other vendors pushing hard to become the femtocell provider of choice (with their own technology or through OEM deals) include:

  • Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)
  • Airvana Inc.
  • ip.access Ltd.
  • Kineto Wireless Inc.
  • NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701)
  • Nokia Networks
  • RadioFrame Networks Inc.
  • Tatara Systems Inc.
  • Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453)
  • Ubiquisys Ltd.
  • ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763)

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading


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