Roke Manor develops wide area coverage 3G femtocell capability

Roke Manor Research claims to have developed the world's first 3G wide area coverage femtocell capability.

The reference design, which uses picoChip's technology as the development platform, has about a 25-mile range, which represents more than 40,000 times the area covered by traditional femtocells. The reference design also supports fully mobility at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour.

Such a solution could be used to serve rural areas or enhance coverage. The femtocell would support up to 12 simultaneous users, with Release 5 HSPA and a software upgrade to Release 6. Roke also developed custom firmware enhancements to picoChip's PC8208 femtocell solution.

"Previously the best range femtocell technology could deliver was two kilometers (less than a mile), useful for wireless services on a campus, but uneconomic for network operators that would have to deploy large numbers in order to fill signal black holes in the countryside," said Prasid Shah, business sector manager with Roke. "Roke's concept means that a reliable 3G mobile service in some of the most remote areas in the world is now a cost effective reality for network operators, which could be a solution to help address the 'digital divide.' Aternatively, the 'plug and play' nature of a femtocell allows carriers to quickly deploy a robust network, even if there is little infrastructure in place. This can be used by emergency services or aid workers to offer complete voice and data service even after an earthquake or natural disaster has destroyed conventional cellular facilities."

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