Is Qualcomm planning to gatecrash the femtocell market?

Having tinkered with the femtocell sector during 2009, Qualcomm is rumoured to have ready a prototype chipset to be unveiled at MWC next month that could signal a step change in femtocell technology.

The company, according to Lightreading, will use Barcelona to demo a femto emulator that simulates the multi-standard 3G chipset. The new concept aims to deliver one of the first femtocell chipsets that integrates radio and baseband controller elements on to one piece of silicon. Femtocell silicon developers currently supply the RF element or the baseband but not both.

If shown to be correct and the chipset proves to be viable in production, the Qualcomm chipset could provoke an upheaval in femtocell design by providing a smaller and more efficient product for vendors looking to build a second wave of 3G femtocells late in 2010 and on into 2011 - the assumption being that this integrated chipset will help drive down the overall cost of femtocells to below the important US$100 retail price point.

The company, while having invested in femtocell developers, has previously suggested that these consumer devices will not be ready for large scale deployments until late this year or into 2011.

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