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4G/3G/WiFi

AirWalk Preps LTE Picocell Proto for CTIA

AirWalk Communications Inc. is readying a prototype Long Term Evolution (LTE) picocell to show off at the CTIA show in Las Vegas next week, which the company’s head believes is the first of its kind to use the new mobile broadband technology.

According to AirWalk CEO Serge Pequeux, the unit will be a “proof-of-concept,” built using an LTE chipset from Mindspeed Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: MSPD) and software from Aricent Inc. Pequeux expects that a production model will be released sometime in the first half of 2011.

Picocells are larger than femtocell home base stations, but much smaller than macro network cellsites. Pequeux says he envisages the new product being used indoors in campuses and conference centers to allow carriers to boost data speeds in LTE hotspots.

AirWalk has been working on CDMA picocells for eight years, more recently extending its know-how into the femtocell market. “LTE will require many more cellsites than traditional technologies to help carriers maintain high data rates,” Pequeux says. “The obvious path was to go to LTE picocells; clearly the bigger guys will build out the marco network.” (See AirWalk Gets $8M.)

The Richardson, Texas-based company will start by introducing LTE products that support the 700MHz band, which means that it is targeting large U.S. carriers like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless , which will both be busy deploying LTE in 2011. “We see this as an opportunity to penetrate directly at large carriers,” says Pequeux.

The company will follow that up with support for more LTE frequencies as networks get deployed around the world. Pequeux says AirWalk has no plans yet to incorporate dualmode support for both CDMA and LTE in its picocell line. “At this point we are not looking at dualmode, but we could in our femto line in the future.”

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile


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