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The age of the femtocell?

Ubiquisys gets set to startle the market

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The reason it's essential is subtle. If 3G "killer applications" like video blogging actually took off on a large scale - something phone makers like Sony Ericsson are counting on! - the data traffic would explode - and the main macro cells simply couldn't carry all the bits. Prices would have to rise, killing the market.

By offloading the bulk of data traffic to the broadband network, the outdoor masts would be freed up to carry genuine mobile data to (and from) the outdoor users, at a reasonable cost.

"The ZoneGate solution addresses two key issues for consumers – cost and coverage," observes Ubiquisys. "It provides in-building GSM/UMTS coverage and capacity where existing network service is poor, congested or non-existent and enables operators to offer fixed telephony and VoIP rates within the home."

A spokesman for Ubiquisys today responded "off the record" to the rumours with a simple "there is no truth to this story" statement. But others in the femtocell market have agreed that the match would be a good one.

Sources inside Kineto Wireless, which is starting to focus closely on the Ubiquisys product line, have expressed interest in the possibility of the Avaya takeover but nobody was prepared to make a comment on events in America until the US offices open this afternoon.

At direct rivals IP Access, senior executives have been discussing the change in the market and expressed some scepticism about Avaya's ability to take the product range to market.

"You have to sell femtocells to the mobile operators," marketing manager Chris Cox said. "These things work on licensed spectrum, and you can't install them yourself - you need people with a licence. That applies even indoors."

This was recently confirmed at a conference where Cox specifically asked an Ofcom regulator to clarify the law: "Even indoors on private property, if it transmits on UMTS frequencies, a device needs a licence," said the Ofcom executive.

Avaya, however, doesn't have much track record on selling to the mobile operators, and is normally seen as one of the SIP VoIP specialists which the mobile telcos regard as close to being the Devil incarnate.

IP Access believes that its approach, which supports both 3GPP and IMS standards, will be competitive, even if it has to face Avaya in mobile markets. ®

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