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NXTcomm08: NEC to sell Genband femto gateway
By Kevin Fitchard

Jun 16, 2008 2:07 PM

Partnership is second femtocell deal for Genband, expanding its global reach


NEC has selected Genband’s G9 Converged Media Gateway for its femtocell portfolio, giving Genband key exposure to NEC’s customers Asia and South America. Genband also announced a new carrier win for its gateway and signaling platform: Integra Telecom, a business services carrier selling voice, data and multimedia services in the Northwest.

Femtocells essentially function as miniature home base stations, giving customers expanded coverage and dedicated capacity, while sparring operators the cost of expanding their macro-cellular network and acquiring new spectrum. The femtocell itself contains the radio and base station controller functions of the radio access network, but it connects back to the carrier through a home broadband line. A gateway is necessary to aggregate those thousands—if not millions—connections to the carrier core as well as manage the millions of calls and signaling sessions from the public Internet.

NEC is continuing its femtocell line, but it is contracting with Genband to supply the gateway itself. It isn’t the first operator to do so. Alcatel-Lucent signed a similar agreement with Genband before CTIA Wireless, giving Genband’s gateway exposure to the vendor’s extensive global markets. The NEC deal now brings similar exposure to Asia and also areas of the Americas where NEC has a strong presence, said Mehmet Balos, Genband executive vice president and chief marketing officer. The partnership, though, goes both ways, Balos said. Genband is one of the world’s largest wireline and wireless gateway vendors, leading the industry in wireless media gateway. According to research firm Synergy, Genband holds a 24% market share. Many of its current customers are upgrading to Genband’s new G9 platform, which handles both media gateway and signaling functionality. That gives NEC and Alcatel-Lucent a ready pool of potential customers for their femtocell platforms.

According to Balos, the G9 can support a 400,000 subscriber footprint, making it the most scalable femtocell platform with four times to the customer capacity of its nearest competitors. That robustness has led to a lot of initial interest from vendors and operators alike, he said.

Integra is one of those existing customers upgrading to Genband’s next-generation gateway. It will not only deploy the G9 media gateway but Genband’s C3 Signaling Controller to add Class 4 and Class 5 capacity to growing network. Integra offers business voice, data and multimedia services in 11 states, focusing particularly on Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

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