Buying in to basestation development

PicoChip has launched a fully-featured LTE development system for small cells, designed to help OEMs accelerate time to market for small form factor LTE products optimised for metropolitan, enterprise and residential applications. The system integrates baseband, software stack and RF, reducing barriers to entry for new suppliers developing basestations and enabling carriers to test the deployment of these new network architectures.

Many analysts and operators believe that LTE will require a dense network of small cells optimized for high-capacity data services to deliver on its full potential. The PC9608/9 is optimized for this metrozone architecture (also called LTE femto).

LTE network trials using traditional macro-basestations are already under way in the US, Japan and Europe, said Aditya Kaul, senior analyst, mobile networks at ABI. While LTE will most likely be deployed from the macro layer first, operators realize that simply providing LTE coverage will not be enough. They will need to soon complement the macro network with targeted metro, enterprise and residential femtocell deployments. We forecast that by 2014 shipments for LTE femtocells will reach 20 million annually, with most LTE femtocells supporting 3G in multimode.

Recent news from the GSMA states that 12 carriers will have launched services by 2010, rising to 31 by end of 2011.

‘picoChip pioneered the concept of the femtocell and we are the industry leader here,’ commented Nigel Toon, CEO of picoChip. ‘What’s more, we already have a deep expertise in OFDMA / 4G, that comes from our world-leading position in WiMAX. Our OFDMA technology is now field-proven in WiMAX basestations used by over 100 operators. The PC9608 combines our experience and expertise in these two key areas to enable cost-effective LTE basestations that will accelerate the rolling out of the next generation of mobile networks.’

The PC9608 is the first full hardware and software development platform for LTE femtocells, delivering quick and simple development and prototyping to customers and bringing together full evaluation and prototyping capabilities. The core of the product is a carrier class software-defined LTE modem that is compliant with 3GPP standards and can be rapidly optimized and customized via an application programming interface (API).

Based on picoChips established PC203 picoArray silicon, the system supports both TDD and FDD versions of LTE, and a variety of 3GPP-defined frequencies and bandwidth specifications within the standard. The hardware is integrated into a single compact, robust chassis based on the industry-standard MicroTCA (TCA) architecture.

Demand for mobile data services is increasing at a high rate, putting considerable strain on many cellular networks: LTE provides a potential solution to this problem. However, in order to handle this increased traffic, LTE will need to be built using fine-grained networks of small cells (femtocells). Such femtocells dramatically change the economics of building, owning and running the next generation of cellular networks, and offer the opportunity to radically reduce the cost of launching LTE services.

picoChip is the industrys leading supplier of femtocell silicon. The companys 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.