Small cells

Airvana Out of the UMTS Femto Business?

Light Reading Mobile has heard talk from a couple of different sources that Airvana Inc. is pulling out of the 3G UMTS femtocell market in order to focus on its CDMA line of home base stations.

The logic of the move is that there is much stiffer price competition in the crowded market for 3G GSM-based home base station products. (UMTS is a 3G technology derived from the GSM standard.) As time goes on, Airvana would largely be competing against Taiwanese ODMs with reference designs at the ready.

In the 3G CDMA market, on the other hand, Airvana only really faces competition from Samsung Corp. , so price points remain better and the Airvana product is the early leader. The company has 3G CDMA femtos with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and KDDI Corp. in Japan. (See More 3G Femtos Coming to the US.) Chelmsford, Mass.-based Airvana had a 2007 deal to supply Nokia Networks with 3G GSM femtocells. Thomson Broadband and Pirelli SpA (Milan: PECI.MI) have also been re-badging Airvana GSM femtos. (See NSN, Airvana Team and Airvana's Femto Flavors.)

Airvana didn't confirm or deny any of this when LR Mobile asked. "We don't comment on rumors," a spokeswoman told us.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:25:33 PM
re: Airvana Out of the UMTS Femto Business?

Wondering if moving to a CDMA-only femto model makes it more likely that Samsung could buy Airvana? Within the realms of possibility I would guess.

Kevin Mitchell 12/5/2012 | 4:25:30 PM
re: Airvana Out of the UMTS Femto Business?

Yes good thought, as Samsung, to my knowledge, does not have a 3GPP2 standards-based SIP femtocell. Speculation or rumor?

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:25:29 PM
re: Airvana Out of the UMTS Femto Business?

Pure speculation on my part at the moment. But the whole femtocell supplier situation must be due for a shake-out pretty soon, its the way of the world.

atiller 12/5/2012 | 4:25:26 PM
re: Airvana Out of the UMTS Femto Business?

Airvana’s strengths are in the CDMA market, where they are having good success - for example with KDDI and Sprint.  If they have chosen to focus on CDMA (and LTE) at the expense of UMTS then that would not be a huge surprise, but I doubt it's a consequence of an imminent threat from the Taiwanese ODMs.

Although the low-cost manufacturers working on a reference design using a 'chip and stack' approach have been attracted to the much larger UMTS market, the idea that they will find success easily and quickly is wide of the mark.  To deploy femtocells successfully in a real-world UMTS network takes a lot of experience, and also significant investment.  Demonstrating features in a lab is one thing – being able to mange widespread real world deployments is completely different.

In truth four manufacturers can currently achieve that in the UMTS world – ip.access, Ubiquisys, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei – and that makes for a healthy and competitive market.

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