Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Femtocells: Portable personal base stations, will they lead to greater opportunity to hack data?

Portable, personal base stations represent a major push by the telecom industry to create a mini infrastructure that it hopes can help satisfy the seemingly insatiable demand for viewing large multimedia files (in particular, Web-based video) using handheld devices, a recurring theme at EmTech on Wednesday. "Wireless has been the fastest adopted technology in history," Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said during his keynote later in the day. "There are more cell phones in use today than TVs, PCs and cars combined."

Femtocells are designed to fill in "coverage holes" that often occur in homes and small businesses, Jonathan Segel, executive director of Alcatel-Lucent's CTO Group, noted during his EmTech presentation Wednesday about mobile apps. In addition, he pointed out that cities have begun to turn to "metro cells" (which provide a range of several kilometers) to offload data traffic in densely populated areas.

Research firm IDATE last week published a report about femtocells indicating that in 2014 about 23 million femtocell devices would be sold worldwide for a total market of nearly $1.25 billion. Each of the major carriers (AT&T, Sprint and Verizon) sells femtocells, with Sprint announcing last week that it has started giving away the devices for free to some subscribers with weak 3G coverage. Femtocells generally cost between $150 and $250.

The trend over time is for mobile phone cells to continue to shrink while providing better service to wireless users. "Because your phone isn't having to shout [to reach a cell tower], your battery life is better," according to Rupert Baines, vice president of marketing for picoChip, a maker of chips used in femtocells. "If the signal doesn't have to go too far you'll get better quality, you're covering less people with each base station and each person is getting more capacity." PicoChip recently introduced a new processor designed to boost even small portable base station signals so they can be used in a variety of public spaces, including shopping malls and airports.



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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