I was recently reading in EE Times about Broadcom’s recent purchase of Percello, a femtocell SoC company. As the author of the news describes, this purchase sends out three key messages: It validates the fledgling femtocell market; it presents a very plausible scenario for femtocell integrated in a broadband gateway box; and it shows the future of femtocells potentially priced on par with WiFi.

It is clear that, the fact that Broadcom is investing on a femtocell company shows that this will be one of the paths that the company from Irvine CA is going to follow. Despite the adversities – interference management, synchronization, etc -, femtocells seem to be here to stay and the demand for this kind of access points is real. It is a complicated deployment, but in my opinion, the key is to combine them with current wireless broadband access points with a common goal of offloading the operator’s mobile network. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and others are in big trouble with their networks saturated with an increasing demand of wide band traffic. Partnerships with broadband and cable providers seem to be necessary. In other words, I would expect the playground to increasingly present partnerships such as the one of FON and British Telecom.

It is not the modulation, technology, coding schemes or other fancy things we have to improve. It is not the bps/Hz the number that must increase to keep on with the increasing demands. Nowadays, the key number is the bps/(Hz*m2) and to increase it one needs to find new network structures, infrastructures and ways to access. Femtocells seem to be one of the bets of the industry’s leaders, Broadcom.

While Broadcom takes the long view on the evolving femtocell market, the fabless chip vendor appears well positioned to take advantage of the relationship Percello has already cultivated with Ubiquisys.

Will Strauss, president & principal analyst at Forward Concepts, said, “Percello’s biggest customer is Ubiquisys, which is probably the number one in femtocells, shipping in some volume to AT&T, SoftBank and SFR (in France).” Strauss believes Broadcom could “instantly become a leader in the femtocell market.”

Indeed, earlier this year, ABI Research named Ubiquisys the number one femtocell access point vendor. ABI, at that time, also noted the successful transformation of Ubiquisys from a box vendor to femtocell software supplier.

Broadcom’s Fischer made it clear that the initial opportunity for Broadcom is a standalone femtocell market. “Just like a WiFi access point, I see femtocell as a 3G access point,” said Fischer.

Given Broadcom’s strong presence in DSL, cable modem and cable boxes, coupled with the company’s corporate credo (“integration, integration, integration”), industry analysts agree that Broadcom is the most credible company to succeed in integrating a femtocell in another box.

The news at EE Times.

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