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Femtocell base stations set for explosive growth

Posted: 31 Mar 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:femtocell? base station? Wi-Fi? 3G?

The ecosystem around cell base stations that improve indoor wireless coverage will experience explosive growth this year and several years thereafter.

This is according to an iSuppli Corp., which stated that unit shipments of femtocell base stations will more than triple this year, rising to 1.9 million, up from 571,000 in 2009. A period of phenomenal expansion then will follow, with shipments reaching 7.2 million units in 2011, up 289 percent from 2010. Shipments will rise by 232 percent to reach 23.9 million units in 2012 and by 657 percent to hit 39.6 million units in 2013, the firm predicted.

In November 2009 a rival organization, ABI Research, said that about 350,000 femtocells would ship in 2009, a downward adjustment from a 790,000 figure ABI forecast for the year in April 2009.

"Throughout the wireless supply chain, companies are busy mobilizing to provide solutions for femtocells, which resemble Wi-Fi routers in appearance," said Francis Sideco, principal analyst for wireless research at iSuppli, in a statement. "Instead of enabling wireless local area networks, however, femtocell base stations improve 3G coverage inside buildings or homeslocations where wireless signals tend to be weak because of building materials blocking the signal or the site's distance from a cell tower."

Leading service providers in the United States and major global operators, such as Vodafone Group plc in the United Kingdom, have launched femtocell products. Commercial deployments also are being launched by an increasing number of carriers around the world.

PicoChip Designs Ltd has been selected to supply baseband chipsets for femtocell base stations for several device manufacturers iSuppli said. Meanwhile other chipset suppliers such as Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc. are looking to break into the market.

"Taking into account developments across the wireless communications ecosystem, iSuppli expects 2010 to be the year in which femtocell units become a key ingredient in the foundation for future radio access network topologies," said Jagdish Rebello, senior director and a principal analyst for wireless research at iSuppli.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times

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