Femto developers boost connectivity, and cut network signaling overload

Two European-based developers of femtocell technology have both announced design enhancements that promise to enable femtocells to support many more simultaneous calls.

The two firms, UK-based picoChip and Germany-based Node-H, claim their new improvements can significantly increase the number of connected calls to move femtocells into the enterprise or even metro access points.

PicoChip says that its updated chipset architecture now enables a femtocell--which can support 64 users in active conversation or web browsing--to also manage 400 phones engaged in general network signalling or 'chatter.'

The company says it has been able to achieve this reduction in network chatter by supporting special handset 'sleep' modes--such as Cell_PCH, additional specialised channels for signalling information via Common E-DCH, and Enhanced Cell_FACH functionality--which allow many devices to share a base station efficiently.

PicoChip believes that this improvement will help operators justify the business case by proving femtocells are usable for large scale deployments, including outdoor metrozones, and could also address issues such as network offload.

Meanwhile, Node-H says that its new femtocell software has set performance benchmarks by supporting 24 simultaneous calls and the fastest uplink and downlink HSPA speeds, at 5.76 Mbs and 14.4 Mbps respectively.

"Operators understand that small cells will play a major role in future network topologies. By scaling from residential, through enterprise to public hot-spots the advantages offered by standards-compliant femtocells are compounding the benefits for operators", said Mike Cronin, CEO of Node-H.

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