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Small cells

KDDI Tests Airvana's 3G Femtos

Japan's KDDI Corp. announced plans to trial 3G CDMA femtocells in March using equipment from Airvana Inc. and Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA).

The news comes a day after Unstrung reported that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has not yet committed to a launch date for its long-promised 3G CDMA femtocell, which will boost not only voice but also data coverage indoors. (See Where Is the Sprint 3G Femtocell? and Sprint: We'll Beat AT&T to 3G Femto.)

Now, the 3G femtocells from Airvana -- which is also Sprint's 3G femto supplier -- will be put through their paces in Japan by CDMA operator KDDI in a national trial starting in March. (See Airvana Wins Major Sprint Femto Deal.)

Airvana set its sights on the Japanese market in 2008 when it partnered with Hitachi. For the trial with KDDI, Hitachi will provide the systems integration and core network equipment, and Airvana will supply the femtocells, which support CDMA 1xRTT and EV-DO. Airvana will also supply a femto service manager for device management and automated network planning as well as the femto network gateway.

KDDI, Japan's second-largest mobile operator, follows rivals NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) and SoftBank Corp. down the femto path. Softbank launched a commercial 3G HSDPA femto service in February 2009 with equipment from NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) and Ubiquisys Ltd. . Meanwhile, DoCoMo launched its 3G HSDPA femto service, called MyArea, in November 2009, with femtocells from Mitsubishi Corp. (See DoCoMo to Upgrade Its Femtos, NEC, Ubiquisys Win Softbank Femto Deal, Who Makes What: Femtocells, and Japanese Femto Rules.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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