LONDON The ecosystem around the cellular basestations that improve indoor wireless coverage will experience explosive growth in 2010 and several years thereafter, according to market research company iSuppli Corp. (El Segundo, Calif.).
Unit shipments of femtocell basestations will more than triple this year, rising to 1.9 million, up from 571,000 in 2009, according to iSuppli projections. A period of phenomenal expansion then will follow, with shipments reaching 7.2 million units in 2011, up 289 percent from 2010. Shipments will rise by 232 percent to reach 23.9 million units in 2012 and by 657 percent to hit 39.6 million units in 2013, the company predicted.
In November 2009 a rival organization, ABI Research, said that about 350,000 femtocells would ship in 2009, a downward adjustment from a 790,000 figure ABI forecast for the year in April 2009.
"Throughout the wireless supply chain, companies are busy mobilizing to provide solutions for femtocells, which resemble Wi-Fi routers in appearance," said Francis Sideco, principal analyst for wireless research at iSuppli, in a statement. "Instead of enabling wireless local area networks, however, femtocell basestations improve 3G coverage inside buildings or homes—locations where wireless signals tend to be weak because of building materials blocking the signal or the site's distance from a cell tower."
Leading service providers in the United States and major global operators, such as Vodafone Group plc in the United Kingdom, have launched femtocell products. Commercial deployments also are being launched by an increasing number of carriers around the world.
PicoChip Designs Ltd. (Bath, England) has been selected to supply baseband chipsets for femtocell basestations for several device manufacturters iSuppli said. Meanwhile other chipset suppliers such as Qualcomm Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc. are looking to break into the market.
"Taking into account developments across the wireless communications ecosystem, iSuppli expects 2010 to be the year in which femtocell units become a key ingredient in the foundation for future radio access network topologies," said Jagdish Rebello, senior director and a principal analyst for wireless research at iSuppli.
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