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4G World: IP.Access unifying femto, small cell gateway


25/10/2011

IP.access is bridging its femtocell and small cell platforms, announcing today a new version of its nanoGateway platform that will manage any combination of miniature base station from 2G to 4G.

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“There is a big drive toward small cells in the network,” said Andy Tiller, senior vice president of product strategy and marketing for IP.access. “We’re anticipating that operators not wanting to have different gateways and different management platforms for different radio technologies.”

Tiller said that a converged management platform is key as femtocells evolve from private home and business coverage solutions to mobile offload points in congested networks. Operators that have deployed 2G femtocells will be able to migrate to 3G and eventually LTE small cells without deploying what amounts to a new end-to-end network, he said.

Operators can install new line cards into existing nanoGateways, allowing 2G gateways to support 3G femto and small cells and 3G gateways to support both 2G and LTE. The vendor’s legacy 2G gateways, though, don’t have the capacity to scale up to 4G, Tiller said.

The femtocell market hasn’t quite exploded the way its advocates had hoped, but according to Informa carriers have deployed 2.3 million of the personal base stations globally. IP.access is responsible for about a quarter of those global shipments, selling its Oyster technology to large vendors like Cisco, which in turn sell to the big carriers like AT&T (Unfiltered: IP.access is the femto industry’s big fish).

That gives IP.access a sizable base of customers to which to sell its new converged gateway especially as those operators start moving away from mere residential femtos to public access femtos and small cell deployments—a trend Tiller said is already happening, albeit behind the scenes.

Tilller added that the IP.access gateway incorporates the most recent 3GPP and industry network management and self-organizing network (SON) standards, allowing it to act as a controller for other vendors’ femtos and small cells as well as integrate with the Tier I operators SON platforms and end-to-end network management systems.

Alvarion is also making its way into small cell territory at 4G World, announcing a new distributed antenna system (DAS) kit, called BreezeCell, designed for indoor deployments. Alvarion is primarily a macro base station vendor specializing in WiMAX and more recently time-division LTE technologies. But as the WiMAX market wanes, Alvarion has been expanding its horizons with a new product initiative called Wireless Capacity and Coverage. BreezeCell is the first product to emerge from that program.



 

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