Texas Instruments and Qualcomm are working on products that will power small mobile base stations, also known as small cells, and help improve indoor coverage and speeds for enterprises.
Small cells can be used in homes, public spaces and offices to offload traffic from mobile networks. Rolling them out in offices will open the door for dedicated voice capacity, mobile unified communications, local switching of voice traffic and other context-aware services, according to industry organization Small Cell Forum.
[ BACKGROUND: Small-cell chip, network rollouts point to a diverse future ]
Qualcomm's FSM99xx and Texas Instruments' TCI6630K2L chips have been developed to power small cells aimed at corporations. To make the products a good fit for companies, Qualcomm and TI have implemented power-over-Ethernet, for example.
Other similarities include support for both 3G and LTE, including carrier aggregation for the latter. The technology speeds up LTE networks by combining two or more swaths of bandwidth into one channel in the same or different frequency bands.
To expand the ways small cells based on FSM99xx can be used, Qualcomm has also integrated support for 802.11n and the new, faster 802.11ac specification. Allowing 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi to work at the same time is win-win situation, since operators can make the best use of all available spectrum and users get better connectivity, according to Qualcomm.
The two products are not only meant for enterprise small cells, but can also be used in small cells in outdoor environments.
Qualcomm expects to start releasing the FSM99xx in small volumes during the second half of the year, while TI expects to do the same with the TCI6630K2L during the fourth quarter. The companies didn't say when they expect the first small cells based on their respective designs will be installed by operators.
Both products were launched at the Small Cells World Summit trade show, which takes place this week in London. At the show, the Small Cell Forum detailed plans to publish a guide to help operators deploy enterprise small cells, to help the segment grow faster. The guide will include lessons learned from early deployments, according to Gordon Mansfield, chairman of the Small Cell Forum.
"We see it as very important to capture the necessary information and share that with the operator community to help them through the process and ultimately get to deployments," Mansfield said.
The guide, which will be called Release Two Enterprise, will be published in December.
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