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Picochip develops first public access femtocell solution
14 September 2010
BATH, UK – 14 September 2010 – Picochip today unveiled the PC333, the first chip specifically designed to extend the femtocell into the realm of public access infrastructure such as metro femto, rural femto and strand-mounted systems. The PC333 System-on-Chip (SoC) device is the first femtocell chip to support 32 channels (scalable to 64) for simultaneous voice and HSPA+ data, the first to support MIMO, the first to support soft-handover and the first to conform to the Local Area Basestation (LABS) standard, enabling higher performance than any other femtocell solution. Building on the success of the industry-standard PC302 and PC312 products for cost-effective residential systems, this further extends Picochip’s leadership in the femtocell market. The PC333 enables small basestations for urban hot-spots, city-centers or public access to be made and deployed at a cost far lower than traditional approaches, radically changing the economics of network infrastructure.
The PC333 is the highest-specification femtocell available, and represents a significant step in bringing a complete 3GPP Release 8 Local Area 42Mbps HSPA+ basestation onto a single-chip. LABS is the 3GPP definition for systems with higher performance than home-basestations, allowing higher capacity, 120km/h mobility and +24dBm output power for greater than 2km range. The PC333 supports 32 channels, each with both voice and HSPA+ data and, with Picochip’s smartSignaling™ technology, in excess of 400 simultaneous smartphone users. Two of the devices can also be cascaded to support 64 active channels. Sampling in 4Q2010 to lead customers, the PC333 builds upon the feature set of Picochip’s industry-leading picoXcell PC3xx family of products and offers customers a seamless migration path with full pin and code-compatibility. With the launch of the PC333, Picochip offers the industry’s most complete femtocell product line-up, ranging from the most cost-effective residential and enterprise to now support metro, rural and public access systems.
“Someday, all basestations will be made like this,” asserted Doug Pulley, CTO of Picochip. “The success of our other devices, shipping in high-volumes to carriers around the world, demonstrates the robustness of our modems. With the PC333 we have extended the parameters of femtocell performance to levels that would traditionally have been considered as ‘picocell’ or even ‘microcell’. This high performance coupled with zero-touch provisioning means carriers can routinely deploy femtocells as part of their wide-area network rollouts. We are already seeing the emergence of femtocells into rural and metropolitan-area basestations; the PC333 redefines the way femtocells are used and networks themselves are architected, leading to the dramatic growth of the basestation market.”
“As data traffic rises inexorably, it is evident that conventional macrocell architectures cannot cope both from a cost and capability point of view. Service providers are going to be deploying different, innovative basestation architectures to address this challenge effectively,” stated Simon Saunders, Chairman of The Femto Forum. "Femtocells are the natural solution for data offload, and an essential part of the network of the future. This is true not just in the home or office, but as part of the wider area network, delivering capacity and coverage exactly where required. As such, public access femtocells represent an important evolution of the application of femtocell technology.”
“Residential femtocell femtocell applications have captured the bulk of the market’s attention,” notes Peter Jarich, Service Director with Current Analysis. “This is logical given early deployments and the volumes implied. Yet, while operators still struggle with the role of Wi-Fi in the home, there can be no doubt that enterprise and public femtocell applications are just as – if not more – important to the small cell business. As we’ve been saying for the past few years, these technologies could radically reduce both the CapEx and OpEx of infrastructure, and will have a major impact on the way carriers and vendors operate. Until now an HSPA-capable basestation with 32 or 64 channel Release 8 LABS specification would have been called a ‘microcell’ – a market segment that’s largely been ignored by most major 3G basestation vendors. Supporting this type of infrastructure development, Picochip’s PC333 could shake up the 3GPP RAN space – helping to extend the life of 3G as LTE matures.”
The PC333 has a higher specification than any other femtocell today with 32 channels, and two devices can be cascaded to make a 64-channel system, while smartSignaling™ technology allows the PC333 to support a dramatically larger number of connected smartphones. The product runs on a 700MHz ARM chip with TrustZone® and variety of specialized hardware features for security. As well as LABS conformance and release 8 HSPA+ (42Mbps downlink, 11 Mpbps uplink), the PC333 supports soft handover, receive diversity and MIMO. It samples to lead customers in 4Q2010.
The new device is part of the industry’s most complete range of devices for femtocell access points, ranging from the industry-leading low-cost PC302 used for residential systems, the PC312 & PC313 for SMEs and high-end consumers, and the enterprise grade PC323.
Picochip is the industry’s leading supplier of femtocell technology and silicon, shipping in volume for use on multiple carriers’ networks. The company’s picoXcell SoCs crystallize five years’ experience in the field; its picoArray™ programmable wireless processors are class-leading flexible, programmable solutions for any wireless standard, including GSM, HSPA, TD-SCDMA, WiMAX, cdma2000, LTE and LTE-Advanced. Over the last 18 months the company has grown into the leading provider of femtocell technology with its chips in the majority of today's commercially available femtocells. Picochip is the only femtocell chip company shipping to multiple carrier deployments in high volume, and announced in June it had passed the milestone of one-million chips shipped.
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