Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) and Sagem Communications (SAFRAN Group) today announced that the two companies are collaborating on the commercial development of a femto cell base station platform that enables mobile operators to provide consumers and enterprises with third-generation (3G) UMTS/HSPA network coverage in their homes or business locations. The Base Station Router (BSR) Femto can help mobile operators improve indoor coverage, reduce operating and capital expenditures by simplifying network architectures and easing installation, and noticeably improve subscribers' quality of experience for mobile broadband and voice services.
Based on Alcatel-Lucent's revolutionary "flat IP (Internet Protocol)" architecture, the UMTS/HSPA BSR Femto flattens the mobile network by integrating and collapsing the UMTS/HSPA radio access network elements, including the base station and radio network controller (RNC), into a single, small unit about the size of a TV set-top box. This innovative approach enables operators to deploy and optimize smaller form-factor, stand-alone base stations without creating an overwhelming network management challenge and overtaxing existing radio network controllers.
"The UMTS/HSPA BSR Femto offers significant advantages over competing solutions due to the fact that it combines all radio access functions into a single, compact device, eliminating the need to deploy additional RNCs," said Alain Biston, president of Alcatel-Lucent's W-CDMA activities. "The BSR Femto is an ideal solution to help mobile operators address the demand for high- quality mobile broadband and voice services in the home."
"By taking advantage of Sagem Communications' expertise in the development of consumer electronics products to help package and manufacture the BSR Femto for mass market consumption, we will realize significant time to market and cost benefits," Biston added.
As Europe's number one manufacturer of DSL residential gateways as well as digital terrestrial and IP TV set top boxes, Sagem Communications was perfectly positioned to design BSR Femto in collaboration with Alcatel-Lucent. Sagem Communications' extensive capabilities and experience in marketing DSL equipment for the home, which is supporting triple play services today, will contribute its expertise to transition the BSR Femto into a mass market device.
Through this collaboration, Alcatel-Lucent and Sagem Communications have already achieved significant milestones in the BSR Femto development effort, including the completion of voice and data calls, lab demonstrations with key customers and the establishment of a program of field trials (to be conducted in the fourth quarter of this year). These achievements have been made possible by leveraging the respective strengths of the two companies.
"The Alcatel-Lucent flat-IP architecture and the BSR Femto are a win-win for mobile operators and their subscribers," said Patrick Sevian, CEO of Sagem Communications. "Our consumer electronics expertise and experience with home- networking applications, combined with Alcatel-Lucent's deep knowledge of mobile networking, is an ideal combination."
Under the collaboration agreement, Alcatel-Lucent will provide its flat IP and UMTS/HSPA expertise, networking equipment and software and end-to-end integration and support for the development of the BSR Femto. Sagem Communications will lend its enhanced home networking capabilities and expertise in developing IP, VoIP and DSL solutions for the mass market.
The BSR Femto uses a DSL connection in a home or office building to backhaul voice and data traffic onto an operator's existing UMTS/HSPA network, enabling operators to offload traffic from the macro-network. It supports circuit-switched voice and data applications, packet-switched data applications, HSPA and IP-Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)-based networks. It also works with all 3GPP-compliant UMTS/HSPA handsets.
Two versions of the BSR Femto are planned for UMTS/HSPA networks -- a standalone 3G unit with Ethernet connectivity to a DSL modem and an integrated unit that supports UMTS/HSPA, DSL and WiFi. Alcatel-Lucent is also developing a CDMA/EV-DO based BSR Femto.