Intel and Ubiquisys to develop small base stations

More powerful products will speed up mobile networks using caching

On Wednesday, femtocell maker Ubiquisys announced an agreement with Intel to develop a new generation of small base stations that will allow operators to push content to the edge of their networks.

Demand for mobile data continues to grow, and the use of small base stations or cells in enterprises, public spaces and metro locations will help operators provide more capacity, according to Ubiquisys.

Ubiquisys is best known for its femtocells, which are small base stations that attach to a fixed broadband connection to help improve indoor mobile coverage. However, by equipping smaller base stations with more computing power, they will be able to take a bigger role in offloading an operator's backhaul by caching content, according to Ubiquisys' founder and CTO Will Franks.

Caching -- the technique of storing often-used content closer to users to speed up downloads -- is getting more attention, as operators and vendors look for different ways to handle growing amounts of mobile data. Caching is one of the technologies Vodafone is looking at to improve mobile network performance, Vodafone's CTO Steve Pusey said when the operator presented its financial results last week. Also, in February, Ericsson announced a deal with Akamai Technologies, a veteran in caching technology.

Depending on how much computing power the operators want, the base stations can be equipped with Atom, Core or Xeon processors, Franks said. They will also be able to communicate using any combination of LTE (Long Term Evolution), 3G and Wi-Fi.

Intel and Ubiquisys plan to showcase the potential of the jointly developed products late this year, and the resulting reference designs will be made available to equipment manufacturers in 2012.

Ubiquisys is also working with Texas Instruments on next-generation small base stations.

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