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3G/HSPA

Femtocells Go to Wisconsin

5:45 PM -- It looks as though the U.S. is set for another CDMA femtocell service launch. Wisconsin-based Cellcom has selected Enterprise Femtocell access points from AirWalk Communications Inc. and service convergence gateways from Starent Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: STAR) and Mavenir Systems Inc. , for a trial that will start in June. (See Starent Intros Convergence Platform, Cellcom Picks Starent for Femtos, AirWalk Unveils Its Enterprise Femto , and Who Makes What: Femtocells.)

That means some residents in the cheese-making state could one day have their very own "individual cellular base station," as the femtos are described in the Starent press release. [Ed note: That's a phrase that would surely provoke nervous twitches and even conniption fits among European-based femto marketing execs.]

Cellcom's executive VP and director of corporate development Rob Riordan tells Unstrung that "femtocells have to offer more than good coverage."

Riordan says the Airwalk enterprise femto supports up to 28 simultaneous conversations and "looks really exciting." To improve indoor coverage for its business users, Cellcom installs repeaters inside buildings, which Riordan says is "not cheap and it's not a money maker." An enterprise femto could resolve those coverage problems while at the same time introducing new services for users. Cellcom is also interested in consumer femto applications.

OK, so in terms of the size of the contract, it's small potatoes -- Cellcom's network covers 1.5 million people and it doesn't disclose subscriber numbers. But for Starent et al, this is their first publicly announced femto contract.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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