Nokia Siemens, Ubiquisys Join Forces on Femtocells

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Nokia Siemens Networks and Ubiquisys have joined forces to push femtocells, and will start selling a combined package in the beginning of next year, they said on Tuesday.

Nokia Siemens is supplying the network equipment and Ubiquisys the femtocells. By end of the year several mobile operators will have tested the combined products, and the integrated package will then become generally available in the first quarter of 2011.

Femtocells are small base stations that can improve voice quality and increase mobile broadband capacity, at home, in the office and in public areas. When a user is making calls and surfing the Web with a smartphone or laptop equipped with wireless broadband, signals are sent via the femtocell and a fixed broadband connection.

For carriers, they also provide a chance to offload users and data from the regular mobile network, and in the process save money.

What Nokia Siemens and Ubiquisys have done is to ensure that their respective equipment are compliant with standards that, on paper, will allow operators to use femtocells from different vendors.

The use of femtocells have started to take off, and the emergence of standards has helped increase operator confidence, according to Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femto Forum.

Other factors are also helping increase femtocell popularity, including the growing amounts of data operators have to handle and the fact that femtocells now cost less than US$100, according to Keith Day, vice president of marketing at Ubiquisys.

Today, about 20 operators are either testing or using Ubiquisys' femtocells, according to Day.

On Thursday, Alcatel-Lucent's CEO Ben Verwaayen highlighted the growing interest femtocells.

"When a major network provider CEO talks about the importance of femtocells, it's a signal that they have graduated from a niche innovation to take a central position in overall network strategy," said Day.

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