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Small cells

Femto Watch: Verizon Launches 3G Femto

The big news in small cells this week is that Verizon Wireless has launched a 3G version of its Network Extender femtocell.

Unlike the previous voice-only version, which the operator launched in 2009, the new Network Extender from Samsung Corp. supports data as well as up to six users. But customers will have to part with US$249.99 to get one of these devices to improve the cellular coverage they get from Verizon in their home. (See More 3G Femtos Coming to the US, 3G Femto a 'Key Project' for Verizon? , and Verizon Intros Femtocell.)

The news means that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), as well as Verizon now offer 3G femtos in the US, although Sprint is handing out the devices only to certain customers on a case-by-case basis. Verizon says its 3G femto provides voice and data coverage when users are within 40 feet of the device.

In other femto news:

  • There was big talk about small cells from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) as the vendor claimed bragging rights over signing up 12 new femto contracts in the last three months. But the only customers that AlcaLu can name are Vodafone UK , Vodafone in Qatar, and Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates (its newest trial customer, announced this week). In total, AlcaLu claims it is involved in 20 femtocell trials and has 14 commercial deployment contracts. (See AlcaLu Adds Another Femto Deal.)

  • Femto chipset pioneer Picochip got busy with Long Term Evolution (LTE) small cell developments. The company took the wraps off the PC500 baseband processor for enterprise and metro LTE small cells, and announced its support for a new set of application programming interfaces (APIs) for LTE femtos, created by the Femto Forum Ltd. The company also forged a partnership with AirHop Communications Inc. for self-organizing network (SON) capabilities in 3G picocells. (See AirHop, picoChip Scale Back to 3G)

  • Femto startup Percello Ltd. said that its chipsets are shipping in volume now and that Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is providing manufacturing test support.

  • WiFi player BelAir Networks Inc. added CDMA2000 support to its strand mounted small cell base station. (See BelAir Picocell Supports CDMA.)

  • Alpha Networks Inc. , a Taiwanese original device manufacturer, introduced the WHU-FAP01 -- a femtocell access point, for which Alpha has developed the hardware and software. The company says it plans to "penetrate European, American and Japanese markets soon."

    — Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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