Where it's based: San Diego
When it was founded: 2007
Why it's Fierce: Fourth-generation networks represent a significant shift from what operators have seen to date in the circuit-switched world. The fundamental difference, of course, is an all-IP network infrastructure. AirHop Communications' eSON technology helps operators achieve that all-IP vision.
The network architecture of LTE will be characterized by many smaller cells, a network that will be dense with significant overlap and potential interference. As such, the Third Generation Partnership Project has come up with standards related to self-organizing network (SON) features. In general terms, SON refers to the ability of an LTE network to configure itself, operate itself and optimize itself through its lifecycle.
All major infrastructure vendors have SON strategies, but most are focusing initially on the cost of installation so that base stations in essence become plug-and-play by automatically detect neighboring cells when activated to reduce both the time and manpower required to install equipment.
SON, however, will dig deeper into the network, and this is where AirHop plays. The company's eSON technology is designed to extend SON well beyond the initial set-up phase to include distributed, real-time, inter-cell coordination capabilities that enable neighboring base stations to communicate with each other to dynamically manage interference, data throughput and QoS as well as optimize frequency reuse. The company is working with NetLogic Microsystems to develop reference designs for small-cell 3G and 4G/LTE mobile networks.
Femtocells need advanced SON technology too so they can avoid interference with other femtocells and enable consumers to plug in the unit and automatically configure. AirHop has been working with Continuous Computing to come up with a small-cell reference design based on picoChip's integrated picoXcel PC302 HSPA platform.
What's next: Look for AirHop's technology to be incorporated in femtocells and future 4G network deployments.