Airvana has announced a new 3G femtocell designed to improve in-building mobile network coverage for businesses and other organisations, which it said is the first enterprise-grade product for the UMTS market.
Due to ship sometime in 2010, the HubBub UMTS High-Capacity Femtocell supports up to 16 simultaneous users making voice calls within a range of up to 600m, or up to 40 simultaneous users using low-bandwidth applications such as push email.
According to Airvana, this combination makes the device well-suited to sites such as offices, where many smartphone users will be checking email regularly, while a few others might be holding voice calls or more intensive data sessions.
"It's not a consumer femtocell on steroids. This is purpose built for the enterprise market," said Paul Callahan, Airvana's vice president of business development.
As well as supporting over three times the bandwidth of femtocells aimed at the consumer market with a maximum throughput of 21.6Mbit/s downstream and up to 5.7Mbit/s upstream, the HubBub also has the power to penetrate through multiple floors in an office block, Callahan said.
A femtocell is basically a smaller version of a mobile network base station, which uses a standard internet connection for backhaul of voice and data traffic to the carrier's own network.
Airvana said that it is too early to name any carriers that might offer the device in the UK and Europe, but expects strong demand once it is available.
"We developed HubBub because of requests from the mobile operators for just such a product," said Callahan. "You find companies have employees on plans with different networks, and this is an opportunity for [a carrier] to convert the whole firm to one single plan."
The HubBub is likely to be offered as part of a managed service, whereby the carrier will perform a site survey and install and manage the femtocell for a business customer.
However, the process is likely to be much simpler than for picocells, which address the same market but typically need much closer management by the network operator.
"We learned a lot from the consumer picocell market. I think future products will be available at a much lower cost and will be plug-and-play," Callahan said.
The HubBub uses the industry-standard Iuh protocol to communicate back to the femtocell gateway on the carrier's network, so customers can be assured that they will not get locked in to a proprietary configuration, according to Callahan.
The HubBub sports a 10/100 Ethernet port and simply connects to any standard router or switch at the customer's site, Airvana said.
"There should not be any problems in terms of backhaul bandwidth. Any quality of service issues are handled between the femtocell and the femto gateway," said Callahan.
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