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Interest in femtocells booming

23 июня 2008

Interest from telecom companies in femtocells, a technology that boosts mobile phone reception in buildings, is booming and may soon allow U.K.-based manufacturer ip.access to pursue a listing, the company's Chief Executive Officer said in an interview.

"We've never been busier than we are now," said Stephen Mallinson, chief executive officer of ip.access."There is a huge amount of interest in femtocells now. In the big world of telecoms it's (an issue) affecting bigger vendors. It's a new opportunity for mobile operators."

Femtocells are small indoor versions of external phone towers about the size of a paperback novel. They improve both coverage and network capacity, especially indoors.

"T-Mobile in the
U.S. has bought thousands and thousands of our base stations around the U.S., mainly in office buildings where there's poor coverage. High-rise buildings in particular have problems with coverage," he said.

The deal with Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA in 2003 was the first major contract for the Cambridge-based manufacturer, and T-Mobile USA is still ip.access' biggest customer.

"I've emphasized buildings but our products can make their way to other areas, in aircraft, ships and soon to be on trains. There's a whole raft of different applications for this type of technology."

According to analyst company ABT Research, the femtocell market could be worth as much as $4 billion by 2012.

"Some analysts say there'll be 100 million femtocell users by 2012. If you're a big vendor then you have to be in that market," Mallinson said.

Ip.access is privately held, but recently a number of large companies have take small minority stakes in the company.

mobile technology company Qualcomm Inc. bought a "strategic" stake in the company, as have U.S. computer networking giant Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp.'s venture capital unit and Motorola Inc. and Scottish Equity Partners. Neither ip.access nor the companies would elaborate on the size of their shareholdings except to say that they were minority stakes.

Mallinson said that for the moment the company is working towards making all parts of its business profitable and that once it starts generating profits it would consider an initial public offering.

"(A listing) won't be for the next 12 months, but then after that we'll see. It depends how

Источник: Total Telecom

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