3G Femto cell now available

3Way Networks, the 3G niche infrastructure developer has launched the 3Way HBS, the World's first commercially available 3G Femto cell. The UMTS HBS (Home Base Station) is designed to enable mobile operators to provide a bubble of coverage and capacity in customer's homes and offer low cost mobile voice, video and data services.

The fixed mobile convergence market (FMC) is starting to gain significant momentum with BT launching its BT Fusion service in the UK and a number of manufacturers recently launching dual mode wireless LAN handsets. But unlike Fusion-type technologies which use Bluetooth or Wifi to create the home network, the femto-cells will use standard 2G or 3G radio technologies.

The HBS connects to the end user's DSL or cable modem and securely routes voice and data traffic to and from the mobile operator's network via the existing broadband link. When users of the HBS arrive home their handset automatically camps on the HBS giving them the advantages of better coverage, higher data rates and lower call costs while they are at home.

Simon Albury, managing director 3Way Networks said: "Our offering is targeted at the mobile operator, it allows them to offer converged services that work with any existing and future 3G handset rather than just dual-mode GSM/Wifi handsets, which are likely to be limited in type and number for some time to come. So it is expected that Femto cell services will prove more popular than BT Fusion-type services as this eliminates the need to deploy expensive dual mode technologies."

ABI Research predicts that Femto cell deployments will reach 19 million per annum by 2011.

3Way's main route to market is via existing system integrators and the company is currently in negotiations with a number of parties. Simon Albury added: "We have a very integrator friendly business model ranging from OEM options up to full reference designs. This gives operators the comfort of being able to buy equipment from vendors with whom they already have strong commercial relationships."

3Way was founded in 2004 and has been shipping UMTS picocell and Femto cell products since 2005. Last year the company shipped over $2m worth of equipment and is expecting a four fold increase in sales this year.