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March 18, 2010
By Charlene O'Hanlon
Advances in femtocell technology are being highlighted at CTIA Wireless 2010, including a version that manufacturer AirWalk Communications Inc. touts as the first to support both high-speed data and voice via a dual-mode platform.
The enterprise-class EdgePoint PRO combines both 1xRTT and 1xEV-DO Rev. A technologies, enabling higher capacity and simultaneous transmission of voice and data. Each unit can scale from a single enterprise installation to multiple unit clusters that can support large enterprises, public venues, or industrial compounds.
Femtocells traditionally have been marketed as a panacea for poor mobile coverage in residences and enterprises, with the technology installed as an add-on to the user’s broadband line to extend “five bars” service. The advantage of femtocells over other technologies such as Wi-Fi or DECT is the user doesn’t have to upgrade to a dual-band mobile phone to take advantage of the technology.
Femtocells slowly have been gaining acceptance in the marketplace in three short years. In 2007 only one operator – Sprint – deployed femtocell technology, but by 2013 In-Stat predicts they will make up 61 percent of small cellular base station revenue.
“As mobile operators migrate from larger base stations to smaller access points, the number of units deployed will explode dramatically,” said Allen Nogee, In-Stat analyst, in a report released in April 2009. “In-Stat expects the smaller and cheaper cells to be more immune to the recession, compared with more expensive macro and micro base station shipments.”
Like other femtocell units, AirWalk’s EdgePoint PRO acts as a cellular access point and plugs directly into an existing broadband enterprise connection to extend 3G wireless CDMA services while reducing capital expenditures and maximizing macro network efficiencies.
The new technology also addresses radio interference issues and ensures a “soft” – or seamless – handoff between femtocell clusters. The unit is available as a wall mount or rack mount with simple plug-and-play installation and advanced SIP/IMS interface.
The EdgePoint PRO is slated for availability by year’s end. Pricing varies according to sales channel and number of units purchased.
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