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Analyst: Vendor proprietary ASICs lead metrocell baseband SoCs

Posted: 08 Apr 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:baseband processors? femtocell? metrocell?

According to the Small Cell and Femtocell Chipsets report of ABI Research, baseband processor sales for small cells is seen to follow two distinct roadmaps.

The baseband SoC for the consumer and enterprise femtocell small cell is becoming increasingly targeted at cost-effective, very high-volume equipment, while the baseband SoC for public access or metrocell equipment, which is targeted at a higher price and feature points, will sell in smaller volumes.

The difference in price points is explained by the fact that enterprise and consumer femtocells are, as the name implies, consumer grade and with performance levels much less than their metrocell cousins, less costly components can be used. Conversely, public access metrocells are ruggedized, often for outdoor use, and come with advanced features which allow them to handle many simultaneous subscribers often in simultaneous multi-mode 3G/LTE, and increasingly WiFi, at much higher RF power levels than a femtocell.

Other forecasts for the femtocell market
ABI Research has also predicted that femtocell as a Service will be is a new and upcoming wholesale model for deploying femtocells geared for mid-lower tier operators. More of the story here.
While Mobile Experts sees more than five million metrocells to be shipped by 2017 but expects slow growth for residential femtocells at only 12 per cent per year. Read the rest of the article here.

"We believe the differences between enterprise and consumer small cell equipment and public access small cell equipment are such that the definitions of the SoCs that equip them will diverge with the differing price and performance points bifurcating the market. We have arguably witnessed the first step in this with Broadcom announcing RF transceiver integration on its 3G BCM61630, an industry first for small cell SoCs," said Nick Marshall, principal analyst at ABI Research.

In the overall small cell market, ABI Research estimates that Mindspeed ranks number 1 in small cell baseband market share, followed by Texas Instruments, and Broadcom. However, when public access metrocells are analysed as a separate category vendor proprietary ASIC solutions attract the top market share, followed by Freescale and Texas Instruments. "This is because vendors such as Huawei, Ericsson, and Samsung and to some extent, Nokia Siemens Networks, all are using ASICs in their designs, particularly in their picocell and microcell products," Marshall continued.

Market share by protocol also splits the vendors with top ranked Mindspeed dominating 3G small cells closely followed by Broadcom. The picture changes for LTE with Freescale attracting over 50 per cent share followed by Texas Instruments in the number 2 position.

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