This solution could be used to cost-effectively serve sparsely-populated rural areas that are conventionally thought of as uneconomic, or to quickly deploy cellular coverage, for example as ‘instant infrastructure’ to help emergency services after a natural disaster.
The new Wide Area Coverage Femtocell requires minimum infrastructure, and its small form factor significantly reduces power consumption, making it a cost effective option for network operators. It supports up to twelve simultaneous users, with Release 5 HSDPA, and a software upgrade to Release 6 HSUPA. Roke has also developed custom firmware enhancements to picoChip’s industry-standard PC8208 femtocell solution.
Prasid Shah, Business Sector Manager at Roke, said: “Previously the best range femtocell technology could deliver was two kilometres, 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. 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’.
Alternatively, 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.
“As a picoChip development partner, we are delighted that our outstanding team has successfully worked with picoChip to build on their femtocell platform and to develop a truly unique technology that enables wholly new types of cellular communications service,” concluded Shah.
Rupert Baines, VP Marketing, at picoChip, said: “There is a growing awareness of how femtocells can be used in a variety of ways, to cost-effectively address a range of different problems. Roke’s development of a low-cost long-range femtocell opens up many applications and deployment opportunities. picoChip’s focus is to provide technology that enables new types of cellular communications services cost-effectively. Building on our proven femtocell technology, Roke has achieved this and now offers network operators a genuine alternative to traditional base station deployment.”