LONDON Wireless chip specialist picoChip Designs Ltd (Bath, England) has released three reference designs for femtocells that deals with one of the major problems and concerns surrounding the emerging technology.
The software designs are said to provide the first integrated 'network listen' (or 'sniffer') capabilities for femtocells.
"A femtocell needs to control itself and fit in with its network environment and ensure there is no interference. This diagnostics capability is hugely important for cell planning, synchronization and handover within networks, and these designs provide the algorithms needed for the necessary measurement and reporting information,", Rupert Baines, VP of marketing at picoChip told EE Times Europe .
The 'network listen' functionality also enables the implementation of the self-organizing network (SON) techniques that will underlay the operation of future networks, and can be used to support timing and synchronization.
Baines notes that currently, most of this diagnostics and interference management is supplied by the femtocell OEMs, often using proprietary algorithms and computational techniques.
"There is work within the industry to ensure all this works with the best performance and security, with Femto Forum supporting a major effort. What we will see is a minimum performance level specified that OEMs will still be able to improve on," said Baines.
He adds this plays to picoChip's strengths in this area, with the software reference designs, targeting the PC202 single chip device, replacing complete handset baseband chipset and radio, cutting design complexity and thus femtocell costs.
The software will enable femtocells based on the company's chips to run the manufacturer-specific code for SON or cognitive radio that automatically manages self-configuration and on-going self-optimization tasks.
Dubbed the PC8210, PC8211 and PC8810 Radio Environment Scanners (RESs), they enable femtocells to detect WCDMA, GSM and TD-SCDMA networks respectively.
The designs perform cell search and decode automatically to implement self-configuration and hence automate provisioning. In an all-3G context, they also enable handover between a femtocell and adjacent cells. And, as users move in and out of range in a mixed 2G/3G network, the PC8211 (GSM) reference design enables hand-off between a 3G femtocell and adjacent GSM basestations.
The WCDMA RES capability is integrated into the hardware of the next-generation PC3xx system-on-chip products. The PC8211 GSM RES reference design also targets the PC203, PC205 and PC302 picoChip devices.
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