UK-based ip.access said its first LTE product, an integrated LTE and 3G small cell, will be ready for shipping to customer labs later this year and field trials by the first quarter of 2013.
The company's E-100 small cell access point is aimed at enterprises and public indoor environments, including shopping malls and hotels. The device will provide simultaneous LTE and 3G mobile phone signals with data speeds of up to 150 Mbps and 42 Mbps, respectively, ip.access said.
The E-100 is a quad-band device and will support the 700, 850, 1700 and 1900 MHz frequency bands in the United States and other bands elsewhere. "A large number of frequency bands are being used for LTE around the world, and the situation is made more complicated by the option of re-farming 3G spectrum. Fortunately, each region uses no more than four major bands for 3G and LTE, so we have designed a quad-band product which will come in regional variants. The variant for the Americas will support the 700, 850, 1700 and 1900 MHz bands, with any two frequencies being used simultaneously for either 3G or LTE. This makes the E-100 very flexible - the operator does not need to handle the logistics of separate products for different locations," said Andy Tiller, who is in charge of product strategy for ip.access, in an email to FierceBroadbandWireless.
The device also has space for a carrier-grade Wi-Fi radio if required by the operator.
The E-100 is the first device from ip.access to use the QorIQ Qonverge PSC9132 processor developed by U.S. chipmaker Freescale's Wireless Access Division. QorIQ Qonverge base station-on-chip products support multiple standards, including GSM, FDD and TDD versions of LTE, LTE-Advanced, HSPA+, TD-SCDMA and WiMAX.
"Small cells will have a vital role to play in delivering LTE's promise of high-speed data for large numbers of subscribers," said ip.access founder and CTO Nick Johnson. But he noted the 3G capability built into the E-100 small cell can have immediate impact by helping operators improve legacy 3G network performance and relieve traffic congestion. "There's an immediate return on investment for operators even before the mass-market take-up of LTE handsets," Johnson said.
The E-100 will be integrated into ip.access' nanoConverge end-to-end small cell architecture, allowing operators to deploy the E-100 alongside the company's existing 3G and 2G small cells using the same gateways and network management system.
Ip.access products are installed in more than 60 networks worldwide, including those operated by AT&T, T-Mobile, Telefonica O2, TeliaSonera and Bharti Airtel. On Feb. 3, 2012, ip.access confirmed it had signed a global agreement to supply small cell products to Telenor Group. The frame agreement covers all 11 operators in the Telenor Group, including its home network in Norway, networks in other Scandinavian countries, plus Telenor's operations in Eastern Europe, the Indian sub-continent and Asia Pacific.
Also this month, ip.access was listed as one of 17 vendors that agreed to adopt LTE small cell application programming interfaces (APIs) developed by the Femto Forum, which has since been renamed the Small Cell Forum. The forum said its LTE APIs enable interoperability between LTE femtocell semiconductors and protocol software from different vendors. Operator SK Telecom has also implemented the APIs in its LTE femtocell deployment.
According to a survey from Informa Telecoms & Media, 60 percent of operators believe small cells are more important than macrocells in LTE deployments.
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