The Femto Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide, has announced strong uptake of its small cell LTE APIs (Application Platform Interfaces), including the first deployment, showing that the vendor community is rapidly preparing the technology to meet the operator demand.
Seventeen manufacturers have so far adopted the APIs for their upcoming LTE products including Airvana, AirWalk Communications, Broadcom, Cisco, Freescale, ip.access, mimoOn , Mindspeed, Picochip, Radisys, Tata Elxsi, Texas Instruments and Ubiquisys amongst others. Additionally, SK Telecom has also implemented the APIs in its LTE femtocell deployment. The LTE APIs enable interoperability between LTE femtocell semiconductors and protocol software from different vendors.
This rapid adoption is being driven by widespread LTE small cell commitments from operators around the world including China Mobile, Vodafone, SK Telecom and NTT DoCoMo. According to a survey from Informa Telecoms & Media, 60% of operators believe small cells are more important than macrocells in LTE deployments. Small cells were also the comfortable winner in a Rethink Research survey of the most important features for LTE-Advanced.
‘As operators plan LTE networks, small cells, including femtocells, could play a critical role in enabling the fastest possible data services in metropolitan and rural public spaces, as well as in private homes and offices,’ said Alan Law, chairman of the Femto Forum’s LTE SIG. ‘This positive uptake of the Forum’s LTE API is one more sign of the growing importance of small cells.’
‘Where small cells once comprised a telecoms niche, they are now at the epicenter of mobile broadband thinking. The quick uptake of the Forum’s LTE API is further testament to this fact – vendors up and down the value chain are adopting the API to give themselves a time-to-market advantage and the ability to select best-in-class software and hardware – which don’t always come from the same source,’ said Nick Johnson, CTO of ip.access and chair of the Femto Forum’s Radio and Physical Layer Working Group, whose members originated the LTE API.
By enabling interoperability between different products, the Forum’s LTE APIs help create a more competitive marketplace by ensuring that small cell device manufacturers can cost-effectively source these critical components from multiple suppliers while also maximizing the market for semiconductor manufacturers.
The APIs address three fundamental functions: physical layer control (to generate LTE radio signals), scheduling (to accurately assign packets to frequency and time slots) and network monitoring (to minimize interference with the macro network and optimize femtocell coverage). Crucially, the APIs support vendors’ unique approaches to these three key areas, which essentially differentiate their products, while helping ensure their solutions are compatible with all other femtocell components.
The LTE API specifications are freely available from the Femto Forum’s website here.