Monday, 05 December 2011 20:59

UK innovator ip.access unveils future of small cells

By Liz Hartney

Stylish new concept 'AFC' adds portability, Wi-Fi backhaul and consumer appeal

San Diego December 5, 2011: UK-based small cell innovator and manufacturer, ip.access, today unveiled a new vision for the small cell market with a working concept design of the femtocell of the future.

About the size of an iPhone, the 'Advanced Femtocell Concept' (AFC) showcases a number of new features that add greatly to the usability, portability and desirability of a femtocell in the home, office or even on the move.

Uniquely featuring a Wi-Fi backhaul capability, as well as integrated GPS, the AFC can be positioned almost anywhere within a home or office. It can be attached directly to the broadband router, or placed in a compact docking station which provides both power and connectivity back to the router via Wi-Fi.

By untethering the femtocell from the broadband connection, the AFC can be placed freely in the optimal indoor location to provide the strongest signal and best coverage. Further, in those markets where network operators require the location of the femtocell to be verified via GPS, the portability of the AFC makes it easy to achieve a rapid and accurate location fix.

Unveiling the concept, ip.access founder and CTO, Dr Nick Johnson, highlighted that the standalone femtocell design has many benefits: "The industry has focused a lot of effort on integrating femtocells into home gateways and set-top boxes, but that approach tethers the femtocell to the location of the home broadband connection, and can be expensive because every box bears the cost irrespective of whether the subscriber uses the femtocell feature. The size, portability and functionality of the AFC provide greater flexibility without creating clutter in the home."

Subject to the operator's preferences and policy, there's even the prospect of the AFC being used on the move, anywhere that provides a Wi-Fi connection - in hotel rooms, holiday apartments, business clubs, or even in public locations such as coffee shops and railway stations.

'A battery powered variant of the AFC could use its GPS and self-configuration techniques to temporarily set up using a public Wi-Fi hotspot to provide the connection normally delivered by the broadband router in the home,' said Johnson. 'In an LTE world, this would be the ultimate in personal metro zone hot spots.'

The AFC, unveiled by ip.access at the Femtocells Americas event in San Diego, is compatible with ip.access' existing small cell gateways and management system, and unlike many concept products is fully working.

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