Small cells

Femto Firm Hits the High Street

U.K.-based ip.access Ltd. today unveiled a femtocell packed with network management capabilities that will let operators take the small base stations to the next level.

The new femtocell from ip.access, whose technology powers AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s 3G Microcell, is designed for small offices or shops, supports up to eight users and is configured for open access, two-way handover with the macro cellular network and real-time alarms.

"There is a lot of excitement about taking residential femtocells and scaling up into the enterprise, public access or metro areas," says Andy Tiller, senior vice president of product management and marketing for ip.access. "But the thing that changes is the provisioning and management requirement."

In order to enable the open access -- where anyone coming into range of the femtocell can use it -- and two-way handover, ip.access has essentially taken the network management and provisioning system it has for its enterprise-grade picocells and applied it to this new femtocell for small offices.

"With two-way handover and open access, the provisioning has to be different," says Tiller. "It's no longer 'zero touch' from an operator's point of view."

Why this matters
This development from ip.access adds a new twist to femtocells and potentially changes the femto proposition for operators.

Also, thanks to the provisioning and management system, this new S class nano3G femto is the first to support two-way handover between the femtocell and the macro network. Typically, residential femtos can do seamless handover to the macro wide area network when a user leaves his or her house and goes out of the femtocell's coverage range. But residential femtos can't do handovers from the macro network to the femto.

The two-way handover capability, along with the femto's open access configuration, present an opportunity for operators to use femtos to boost capacity and indoor coverage in high-usage areas such as shopping malls or other public places.

For more
As femto technology evolves, the small base stations are cropping up in various shapes and sizes with new applications and service possibilities for operators.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

marcatm 12/5/2012 | 5:15:16 PM
re: Femto Firm Hits the High Street While the CPE is designed for Macro hand in, the gating issue is whether the carrier networks have the capacity to deliver that service.
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