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Small cells

RadioFrame's Mystery Femto Buyer

A mystery buyer has snapped up RadioFrame Networks Inc. 's femtocell assets, Unstrung has learned.

It emerged early on Friday that RadioFrame has sold off its iDEN base station business to Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) for an undisclosed sum. (See Moto Snaps Up RadioFrame Assets.) This led Unstrung to wonder what the current status of RadioFrame's femtocell business is.

"That was an unannounced acquisition," RadioFrame spokesman Rick AppleGate says. He won't reveal the name of the buyer.

RadioFrame exited the consumer equipment side of femtocells in March. At the time, however, it had said it would keep making femtocell chips. (See RadioFrame Exits Femtocell Biz.)

Since then, there's been some speculation as to what happened to RadioFrame's femto business. One industry source told Unstrung recently that Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) had bought the RadioFrame femtocell assets.

RadioFrame wouldn't comment on that suggestion, and Broadcom hasn't yet returned our calls on the matter.

Nonetheless, a femto buyout would fit with the way that Broadcom is fitting its home gateway chips with more WiFi and wireless capabilities. Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR) and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) could be potential buyers as well.

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), however, has already started to lay out its own femto roadmap. Nick Karter, senior director of business development for Qualcomm Flarion Technologies, told Unstrung recently that the firm is on track to deliver femto silicon samples in the second half of 2010. (See Qualcomm Firms Up Femto Plans.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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