Qualcomm Invests in Femtocell Tech

The chipmaker backs ip.access to improve home network capacity and backhaul support.

Qualcomm is the latest investor in ip.access, a British company that develops femtocell and picocell technology. With its unspecified investment, Qualcomm joins Cisco, Intel, Motorola and others as backers of the company.

Femtocells allow consumers to boost their existing broadband service to provide both higher quality and higher performance wireless voice and real-time data services inside the home. The ip.access home femtocell system uses a customer's broadband connection for backhaul and creates extra capacity in the home network.

"3G femtocells will have a very important role in future mobile network architecture," Frederic Rombaut, head of Qualcomm Ventures Europe, said in a May 21 statement. "Ip.access has an innovative approach to the 3G femtocell market that will enable our customers to enhance the delivery of 3G services to mobile users."

According to ip.access, more than 30 percent of all mobile calls and 35 percent of mobile television originate in the home. Walls, however, absorb the majority of radio frequency energy and signals that do make it through are scattered into multiple paths.

The power problem is attacked by ip.access by installing a base station in the home, taking traffic away from the macro network and routing it over the femtocell layer. The low-power solution minimizes the risk of interference from the macro network.

Stephen Mallinson, CEO of ip.access, said Qualcomm's investment would allow the company to "unleash the power of the mobile phone using indoor connectivity. We aim to facilitate new and exciting mobile-phone-based services that otherwise wouldn't or couldn't work indoors."

The ip.access system is compatible with standard 3G handsets, eliminating the need for dual-mode handsets.